image of budapest cityline

A Brief History of Castle Hill Budapest


Castle Hill offers remarkable heritage in the heart of Budapest.

Situated on the left bank of the Danube River in the center of beautiful Budapest, Castle Hill is among the finest historic districts in Europe. A meander through its ancient streets reveals a city rich in heritage, with traces of lost civilizations and treasured architectural gems lining each and every boulevard and civic square.

In 1987, Castle Hill, along with other sites in Budapest including Andrássy Avenue and the Banks of the Danube, were designated UNESCO World Heritage Site status – such is the historic showcase on display here. The Castle Quarter can, in itself, fill a whole day of your Budapest itinerary, with countless attractions to admire across the hill.

Whichever route you take through this iconic district, inspiring sights and intriguing pockets of history are never far away. Marvel at Matthias Church and its majestic spire, take in the magical city views from Fisherman’s Bastion, and stand in the shadow of the imposing Buda Castle – one of the greatest Baroque wonders on the continent.

To introduce the highlights of Budapest in greater depth, here we explore the history of Castle Hill and its must-see sights – giving you a taste for what awaits on your Danube river cruise.

A Timeline of Castle Hill

Occupied, destroyed, but never beaten – Budapest’s Castle Hill has seen its share of conflict over the centuries, gifting the area a fascinating story to tell. Explore the illustrious history of Buda Hill and its prized heritage buildings in our interactive timeline below.

Heritage Highlights on the Hill

Prestigious heritage and monumental architecture combine on Castle Hill, making this historic quarter one of the must-see attractions of the Danube. Explore a handful of the highlights you can expect below.

Buda Castle

royal palace of buda
With its beautiful Baroque design and sprawling position at the very top of the hill, Buda Castle is the piece de resistance of the left bank, and an unmissable stop-off on your tour of the district. Such is the scale of Buda Castle – also known as the Royal Palace – that the structure hosts several museums and government institutions, including the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. Whether you choose to enter the castle or not is up to you, as even from the exterior, there is plenty of heritage to see. Look out for special features like the Matthias Fountain and the lions of the great Buda Gate as you explore the castle.

Matthias Church

matthias church and statue
Built and rebuilt on several occasions, Matthias Church stands today as one of the foremost architectural wonders of Castle Hill. It’s believed a church has existed on the site since 1015, and throughout the Middle Ages, it was used as a place of coronation for the kings of Hungary. Destroyed by the Mongols, transformed by the Ottomans and raised to the ground again during the Siege of Budapest, the church was remodeled in a classic Neo-Gothic style in the 19th century, with architect Frigyes Schulek tasked with restoring the church to its former glory.

Fisherman's Bastion

funicular railway
Budapest’s charming Funicular Railway is by far the best and most authentic way to reach the summit of Castle Hill. Erected in the 19th century, this beautiful old railway has been transporting visitors to the castle quarter for over 150 years, and has retained its original design to grant a fun and nostalgic way to access Budapest’s historic hillside. The journey to the top takes around ten minutes, and you can enjoy arresting views of the Danube riverbank, Chain Bridge and Hungarian Parliament Building as you take the ride to the summit.

Fisherman's Bastion

fisherman's bastion
Owing to its fairytale good looks and majestic panorama, Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most unique structures of Castle Hill. Perhaps the structure which attracts the most tourist footfall, Fisherman’s Bastion was designed and built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in a Neo-Romanesque style that sets it apart from other buildings on the hill. The structure is set around Matthias Church, and it too was the brainchild of Frigyes Schulek. Aside from its majestic architecture, Fisherman’s Bastion is revered for the views it provides over Budapest – it’s the perfect place to discover just why the city is known as the queen of the Danube.

Featured Tours

The wonders of Castle Hill and Budapest are yours to discover on a Danube river cruise from Emerald Waterways. Transporting you to the heart of the city on our boutique Star-Ships, you’ll experience all that Budapest has to offer thanks to our immersive EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE events. Click here for our collection of Danube river cruises or call our team today on 855 222 3214.