“What strikes me most about walking through the Castle District is the phenomenon of being lost amid a hodgepodge of time.”—Nick Robertson, editor, Where Budapest. This is the oldest part of Budapest, having been established on Buda Castle Hill in medieval times. Repeated wars and sieges, however, mean that while there is a definite medieval feel about the area, much of that is a result of repeated excavation, rebuilding, and renovation.
The walk begins at the noted (1) Matthias Church (www.matyas-templom.hu) in Szentháromság tér. “Half-girdled by the Fisherman's Bastion, and watched over by the apostolic King Stephen on his bronze horse, the Matthias Church with its graceful spire exercises its gentle sway over the Buda skyline.”—Nick Parsons, author, Worth the Detour: A History of the Guidebook. Originally medieval, what you see today is primarily the result of late-19th century renovation. Inside, unusual Byzantine decoration mixes with art nouveau.
Strolling north, pass the Hilton Hotel and along Táncsics Mihály utca, brings you, at No. 7, to the (2) Music History Museum (www.zti.hu). Housed in an 18th-century baroque mansion, the exhibition displays old violins, hurdy-gurdies, zithers, bagpipes (a traditional Hungarian folk instrument), horns, and cimbaloms.
The street was the center of Jewish life in medieval times, and the remains of an originally 14th-century (3) Jewish Prayer House can be visited at No. 26. Beyond is Bécsi kapu tér (Vienna Gate Square) and a small, single-steeple (4) Lutheran Church, dating from the end of the 19th century. Climbing by the side of the stone gate, you reach (5) Babits Mihály sétány, a rampart from which one of many fine views can be had. “The sprawling panoramas of both Buda and Pest encompass everything from art nouveau monuments to communist block buildings.”—Nick Robertson.
Proceeding westwards, through Kapisztrán tér, past the (6) Mary Magdalene Tower (the only remains of an originally 13th-century church, severely damaged in World War II), you reach the rear of the (7) Military History Museum (Tóth Árpád sétány 40; www.militaria.hu). Among its several exhibitions is one covering the 1956 Uprising. The view across Buda from the main facade is breathtaking. “Just imagine it without the buildings 150 years ago, when the hills were the holiday resort of the city.”—László Lugosi Lugo, photographer.
Returning to the tower and proceeding south along Úri utca, you pass, at No. 49, the (8) Telephone Museum. Among its curiosities is a set of telephones that belonged to Emperor Franz Joseph.
Reaching Szentháromság utca, turning right brings you to steps descending to an entrance to Castle Hill’s underground cave network, partly used as a hospital during World War II. A (9) Cave Hospital Museum has been recently established here (Lovas út 4/c; www.sziklakorhaz.hu).
Turning back to Szentháromság utca, toward the Matthias Church, you pass the tiny (10) Ruszwurm Confectionery ( 36 1 375 5284) at No. 7. There has been a pastry shop and café here since 1827, which makes it one of the oldest in the city. “Jump back nearly 200 years and have the sweetest tastes of the time.”—Anna Nagy, travel journalist.
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