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Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle’s official name is Historial Architectural Premises, it is located at the edge of the Városliget Lake, in the huge City Park, more exactly in the 14th district of Budapest. Built by Ignác Alpár, this monument is part of a series of major works celebrating the thousand years of the arrival of the Magyars (896 A.D.) in the Carpathian Basin. The building consists of a series of pavilions built in different architectural styles having marked Hungary since its creation. The designer had a great talent to illustrate the characteristics of the four main architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. The name of the monument is inspired by Hunedoara Castle (Vajdahunyad in Hungarian), located in Transylvania. It is one of the central sight-seeing destinations of hundred thousand tourists visiting Budapest.

History of Vajdahunyad Castle

The original Hunyad or Vajdahunyad castle used to be the eagle-nest of General Hunyadi János and his family in Transylvania, and it has become an emblematic building of Hungarian architecture by the 19th century. By the end of the 19th century, Hungary underwent a swift development, not just in the industrial sector, but in agriculture as well. Budapest had become one of the most significant metropolises in Europe. As part of the Millennial celebration of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin, officials organized the festivities which lasted for several months and celebrated the history, culture, and economic achievements of the country.

The Millennial Celebrations took place in 1896 and it was the main reason for the building this castle in the heart of Budapest. It represents the Hungarian and European characteristics of the architecture in 3D, to illustrate the Hungarians’ architectural achievements during different periods. Thus, the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque parts are in separate sections that still manage to form an exceptionally organic complex of 21 buildings. (more in the History section)

What can we see in the castle?

The castle is situated in the enormous city Park of Budapest, on the Széchenyi Island that is in the middle of the Park’s artificial lake. Four bridges are connecting the castle with the Park. The main entrance of Vajdahunyad Castle can be approached through a stone bridge with lion statues. The so-called Bridge Gate (Nyilaskapu) is 10.5 meters wide and it is reminiscent of a typical medieval castle gate, flanked by the Romanesque wing to the left and the Gothic wing to the right. The inner courtyard unfolds in a style reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral. The dominating component of the cathedral facade is the imposing rose window made in the workshop of Miksa Róth.

Opposite the front courtyard, we can see the Romanesque cloister. Its pillars, corbels, and column capitals recreate the details of medieval Hungarian monuments. The chapel is a consecrated sanctuary of the Roman Catholic Church where Holy Masses are told each Sunday but weddings and concerts are often held in it, too. Arriving at the main entrance of the museum we enter the Baroque period, facing a palace facade from the period of Empress Maria Theresa. If we take a look at the building from the ice skating rink, we can observe the closing façade of the Gothic wing and the Renaissance wing of the museum. The courtyard has a Renaissance loggia where we can see the relief of King Matthias Corvinus and his Queen Beatrix of Aragon. From time to time, concerts are organized on the stages built before the loggia.

The Gatehouse is a particularly nice section of Vajdahunyad Castle.

Atop the typical castle gate, walking along the battlements you can take delight in the views of the City Park and the courtyard from above. Before stepping out at the end of the narrow passage to the battlements, also known as the parapet walk inspired by the Fortress of Dakovo (Diakovár), do not miss the photo exhibition in the 37-meter tall Gatehouse, which explains the history of Vajdahunyad Castle with archive photos.

You can observe the architectural curiosities of the castle from the battlements, like the above-mentioned rose window, the armored knights from the black army of King Matthias, or the raven holding a ring in its beak. The next thing to be discovered is the Apostles’ Tower. Climbing the 150 steps of the Apostles’ Tower, inspired by the Clock Tower of Sighisoara (Segesvár), will provide a 360-degree panorama of Budapest.

Sights to see are Gellért Hill, Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and also parts of Vajdahunyad Castle that are otherwise hidden from the sight of visitors.

In place of the clock of the Bastion Tower of Sighisoara the Apostles’ Tower features a beautiful, wood-carved Hungarian coat of arms with angels.

The Agricultural Museum can be found in the Baroque palace of the castle.

The facade of this palace which overlooks the lake was built in the German Renaissance style. Its so-called German Tower is 50 meters tall. The French Tower is not so tall, it was built in early Renaissance style.

We can find several statues in the castle: the bronze statue of Ignác Alpár (made by Ede Telcs in 1931) is standing at the entrance. The statue of Sándor Károlyi (by Alajos Strobl) can be seen on the Hunyadi Courtyard, not far from the bronze statue of the Hungarian medieval chronicler, Anonymus (by Miklós Ligeti).

If you walk along the southeastern Promenade, you can find the busts of other famous Hungarian people like Lajos Mitterpacher, Sámuel Tessedik, János Nagyváthy, Ferenc Pethe, and at least but not at last, the bust of Béla Lugosi.

Entrance fees:
Adult 1600 HUF
Student, senior 800 HUF
(The entrance ticket is including the ticket to the Gatehouse Tower.)
Gatehouse Tower 300 HUF
Tower tour to the Apostles' Tower 600 HUF
Tower tour for groups (over 10 visitors) 500 HUF/person
Combined Ticket:
Museum visit with tower tour:
Adult 2100 HUF
Student, senior 1300 HUF
Additional charges may apply for the temporary exhibitions and special events!
Guided Visit:
Hour-long guided visit in one permanent exhibition of the Museum (up to 25 persons): 8000HUF
Groups over 25 persons: 8000 HUF + 300 HUF/ person
Free Entry: children (under 6), teachers holding international pedagogue ID
senior citizens over the age of 70, disabled visitors with one attendant, holders of valid ICOM or press card
Opening hours:
Mon: closed
Tue-Sun 10 am to 5 pm
Gatehouse Tower:
Mon-Sun: 9 am to 5 pm
Guided tours start every hour in English and Hungarian.

Text by Gábor Szántai