Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
The Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest (Halászbástya) is an architectural complex located on the Castle Hill in Buda. A fabulously beautiful structure is considered to be a part of the Buda Castle complex, and occupies the Northern tip of the Gellért Hill. The bastion is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited places in Budapest.
History of the bastion
Strangely enough, the construction was never used for defensive purposes. But, we will talk about everything in order. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the place where this attraction is situated now, was the area near the fortress walls that protected the Royal Palace. And on this square there was a fish market. Accordingly, the guild of fishermen was obliged to carry the defense of the fortress walls in case of an enemy attack. And the name of the modern bastion pays homage to the fishermen who defended the fortress. But, together with the construction of a new palace in the late 19th century, the reconstruction of all its structures was completed. All these events were dedicated to the Millennium of the founding of Hungary.
In 1873, the Hungarian architect Frigyes Schulek undertook restoration of the nearby St Matthias church. And during the work he decided to create an architectural ensemble in which the Fishermen's Bastion served as a kind of background for the church. The main works were conducted from 1895 to 1902, and were completed by 1905. As a result, a very beautiful structure turned out, blending in itself Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles with a little bit of Classicism.
During the military operations of 1939-1945, the complex suffered considerable damage, and soon it was restored by János Schulek, the son of the creator of this masterpiece. In 1970-1980, the bastion was again restored, now from the harmful industrial influence.
In 1987, together with the entire complex of Buda Castle, the bastion was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most recently, in 2013, a restored St Michael’s chapel was opened under the castle.
Architectural complex of the bastion
These fortifications were originally created with a decorative purpose. Seeing their unreal beauty creates a feeling of some kind of fairy-tale. With a kind of horseshoe shape, white stone walls frame a small area behind the church. In the center of the square stands a Statue of St Stephen, the first ruler of the Hungarian kingdom. The walls themselves, in fact, are multi-level galleries with a lot of towers, stairs, crossings, arches and terraces. The total length of all the galleries is 140 m, the width is 8 m. The galleries connect 7 conical towers among themselves. They symbolize the seven chiefs of the Hungarian tribes who united in the kingdom. The largest and pompous tower is called Hiradas. The whole complex is generously and tastefully decorated with many bas-reliefs and ornaments.
A café is situated at the top level. And the reason for it is simple: it is a kind of observation deck. From the upper terraces you can observe a breathtaking panoramic view of the Danube and Budapest, in particular its plain part. The building of the Hungarian Parliament on the opposite bank of the Danube is especially beautiful. It is for this incredible spectacle that many tourists visit the Fishermen's Bastion.
Also, the bastion looks gorgeous at night, when the back-light is on. At the lower levels of the galleries there is an atmospheric medieval chapel, built in the 15th century. And under the bastion there are tunnels, where the people were evacuated when defending the fortress, and also the garrison soldiers moved through them. According to rumors, their length is about 4 km.
How to get there
The Fishermen's Bastion is located near the Royal Palace and Széchenyi Chain Bridge, on the Holy Trinity Square. On the same square, just a few steps away, there are the Holy Trinity Column and the House of Hungarian Wines. You can get here on foot, strolling from the Royal Castle or the Chain Bridge. You can also take a bus, routes 16, 16a, 116, 916. You need to get out at the stop Szentháromság tér.
Opening hours: round the clock and all year-round. But you need to take into account that admission to the upper towers is by ticket, at a certain time: from March 15 to April 30 from 9:00 to 19:00, from May 1 to October 15 from 9:00 to 20:00.
Entrance fee: at the time indicated above, the entrance to the upper towers is chargeable, at the rest of the time, and also to the lower levels, the entrance is free. The cost of the full ticket is 800 Hungarian forints, for children, students and pensioners – 400 forints. Admission is free for children under 6.