Buda Castle, Budapest
The Buda Castle, a World Heritage Site, is part of the Castle District. Once a palace of the kings, today it is a symbol of Buda and its main touristic sight. Its importance is not only architectural but it is also the location of cultural institutions such as the National Gallery, the National Széchényi Library and the Budapest History Museum.
The current outlook of the castle is the result of many renovations and expansions. If we would see the original Gothic palace today we would be hardly able to recognise it. What we know for sure is that building of the castle was already in progress by the mid-14th century. After many expansions, it became a famous Renaissance palace during the reign of King Matthias. This luxurious era ended with the Ottoman Wars and the castle was almost completely destroyed after the Battle of Buda in 1686.
The reconstruction began in 1715, most of the original building was removed and a smaller Baroque palace was built. An expansion by the architect Miklós Ybl and Alajos Hauszmann took place between 1890 and 1904 when a new wing was added to the building. This is the time when the Lions Court with its stone lion guardians and the Matthias Fountain were built.
During the Siege of Budapest at the end of World War II, the castle was bombed by the Germans and it was burning for days. Though horrible, this made possible the excavation of the remains of the original palace and many objects from that era. The building was rebuilt only in the 1960's. Instead of the original luxury of the castle, a more modern and puritan approach was used as it was found more fitting for the national institutions that would be placed there.