Buda Castle - the historic edifice for which kings have waged for centuries

Vivi Bencze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

It’s more than 700 years old. Kings, sultans and emperors have waged for it for long and eventful centuries in the past, starting from the 13th century. It has such a rich history, that it’s almost impossible to tell the whole flawlessly, given the fact that it also has a bunch of secrets buried under the ground. Buda Castle’s historic edifice is one of the Hungarian capital city’s most famous and most visited tourist attractions, just like the City Park, but more importantly one of the most emblematic places of this Central European country’s bloody and glorious history. Since only going through every milestone would take an eternity, I’m going to highlight only the most interesting facts, that I reckon, you definitely need to know about.

The Mongol Invasion

uda Castle is an existing messenger of the past eight centuries, during which it has been expanded and rebuilt for thousands of times. First, it was started to be built in 1243, and the origin of its history is related to the Mongol Invasion back to the 13th century, when their army conquered half of Asia and half of Europe within 75 years. This aggressive expansion reached Hungary in 1241 and lasted for one brutal and deadly year, in which 40-50% of the Hungarians, about 1,500,000 people lost their lives. Still, the Mongols retreated in the second year of their constant massacre in Hungary (the reason of it is still uncertain to this very day), and Bela IV, Hungary’s king at that time, ordered the constructions of a series of stone castles all over the country. The works got paced up in 1246, after the news of a possible reattack by the Mongols. In 1255, it was already mentioned as a finished fort on the certificate of Bela IV, who suffered serious defeats against the Mongolian army’s khan. However, after their retreat, he rebuilt the whole country again. For this, he got the reputation of the second state-founder of Hungary – after Saint Stephen I. The Mongols got back and attempted a newer siege 43 years later, but they failed, and the new king Leslie IV expelled them from the country for good.

Bibliotheca Corviniana

The Castle was also a home to the legendary library, so-called Bibliotheca Corviniana, which was the book collection of Matthias Corvinus, former king of Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria of that age among others. Matthias Corvinus is the most successful and most prestigious Hungarian emperor of all time, whose collection of books was considered the second biggest library of its era. Only the Vatican Apostolic Library was ahead in terms of size and the variety of the works. The pieces of the collection are called corvinas, out of which there are only 216 left scattered worldwide, but most of them (53) are being in the property of Hungary – 35 just in Buda Castle.

The supremacy of the Turks

After the death of Matthias Corvinus in 1490, and with the intensifying power of the Ottoman Empire, the Hungarian Kingdom got in real danger, what eventually resulted in the Turks' occupation in the middle of the 16th century. At first, in 1526, Suleiman I, also known as Suleiman the Magnificent, “only” burned down and raided the city of Buda and the Castle, then went on driven by his constant instinct of conquering. But 15 years later, the Ottomans came back acting as if they would have liked to side with the Hungarians against the Habsburg army, but eventually they occupied the Castle with a ruse. After the reigning Hungarian king Janos I passed away in the previous year, his widow Izabella Jagello and the remained leaders of the Hungarian power had to negotiate with Suleiman I, in his tent. While collating, the Turks’ elite unit took the castle in secrecy. This act had such a tremendous significance that it meant the first step of the Ottomans’ supremacy over Hungary for not less than 145 years. It was returned to the Hungarians only in 1686, but it’s another story.

The present days

Today Buda Castle gives a home to cultural institutes as follows:

Budapest History Museum – One of Budapest’s most significant museums, which collects all the material memories of the capital city’s history.

Hungarian National Gallery – It is the largest public collection, documenting and presenting the fine art of Hungary from the past to the present days.

National Széchenyi Library – This is the national library of Hungary. Its task is to collect, process, preserve and to make available the Hungarian written cultural heritage and those issues that have Hungarian relevance.

Even though there are countless stories yet to tell, related to this magnificent, historic edifice for which kings have waged for centuries, while reading my article, you already have a pile of knowledge to possess, which will make your visit much more sentimental and tangible. Come to Hungary and admire this royal and mesmerizing building in person – I promise, you won’t be disappointed! Neither during the day nor after dark.

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