For several days now I have been thinking about the two sisters – Buda and Pest, separated right in the middle by their brother Danube! And I decided that have to go back there, being it just imaginary. The first thing that comes to my mind are the beautiful white towers standing on one of the hills, from where incredible views are revealed and while standing there you can feel how your love for this amazing city starts flowing through your veins!
Yes, you’ve guessed it right! These are the Fisherman’s Towers of Budapest, which I want to tell you about today.
Fairy tales always tell us about a castle on a hill, which can be reached by climbing many stairs. And when you are in Budapest, it is as if the fairy tale comes to life before your eyes, when you look down from any of the hill’s tops, located in the former Pest. Right there rise the beautiful white towers, which are one of the most-frequently visited places in the capital of Hungary!
This is one of those places that are like a magnet for tourists! Fisherman’s Towers are one of the most visited places in Budapest. Not only tourists but also locals come here to enjoy the breathtaking views. You may wonder what the history of these fairy towers is and whether a fairytale character lived here or if they used to be a setting for a Disney movie? Ор they were used for a protection from something? Unfortunately, no. The towers are only a decorative in nature. But let’s not torture you anymore – we’ll go back to history a bit. 😊
The Fishermen’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 as part of events which were organized to honor Hungary’s 1,000th birthday.
The whole complex is inspired by the architectural style of the early Middle Ages, when it was modern and relevant to build buildings in neo-Romanesque style. Interestingly, there is a lot of symbolism here from Hungary’s past. Exactly 1,000 years ago, the first Hungarian king began his reign, and this complex was built for this anniversary. The bastion has 7 towers, symbolizing the 7 Hungarian chiefs who settled their tribes there in 895. A statue of St. Stephen, who was also the first Hungarian King and ruled in the period between 1000-1038, was built in 1906. 1,000 years of history, collected and presented in an elegant and impressive way!
The architect of the Bastion is Frigyes Schulek, who restored and redesigned the church of Matthias (Church of the Virgin Mary). The construction of the Fisherman’s Towers coincides with the restoration of the church, both of which are built by the same architectural style. The T-shape of the bastion was to encompass the church, while enhancing its beauty, and also to connect the top of the castle hill with the fishing village spanning on the coast on the Danube river.
The bastion was built as an observation terrace with observation towers at a section of the castle walls (from the 17th to the 18th century, built after the siege of the Buda Castle). Instead of building strong and thick stone walls, the idea was to present the panoramic terrace to the locals to be freely visited, as Buda Castle was no longer considered a military site. A romantic idea has been introduced with which the residents can remember the old times and feel like being part of a fairy tale. The main goal was to feel the story, to go back in time and be able to imagine everything as it is very real.
The ceremonial, wide staircase leading to the Fisherman’s Bastion provides a dramatic entrance to the sights of Buda Castle and views of the side sights of Budaest. The staircase includes additional historical statues – the Statue of John Hunyadi, the statue of St. George the Victorious and other many soldiers who guard the gate (at the top of the stairs, under the arch itself).
The bastion was damaged during World War II, but was quickly rebuilt by the architect’s son. By the 1980s, the walls of the Bastion became gray due to domestic fumes and city’s air pollution. Also, many of the statues were left to fend for themselves – some lost their limbs, others had their faces disintegrated, and so on. Thanks to the residents of the area, insisting that the country and the capital had to contribute to the huge costs of restoration – the Fisherman’s Towers were completely restored.
During the construction of the Fisherman’s Bastion, the medieval underground chapel of St. Michael was discovered. You can descend to the chapel from the Fishing Bastion.
The biggest change around the Fishermen’s Bastion came in the 1970s, when the second five-star Hilton hotel was built in Budapest, right behind the bastion towers.
The Hilton Hotel opened in 1976 in a dazzling new building, in the true style of the American dream, with many sleek windows, modern technology that was rarely seen in what was then Hungary. Many do not like the new hotel, as the modern building with its light-reflecting windows is quite in contrast with the historic image of the castle.
From here you can enjoy the wonderful panoramic view of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Budapest, the Danube River, as well as its historical sights. You can sit on the benches, hide in the arcades when it is snowing or raining, and also when the sun is hot in the summer you can hide in the shade created by them. You can sit on the balconies and enjoy the view – this is probably one of the most romantic places in Budapest. Here you can do everything – even you can imagine that you are the king and this is your castle, and wherever you look around you see only your lands and servants.. The place is magical! If you get tired of dreaming and fantasizing, you can also visit the Marzipan Museum to eat some sweets. 😊
There are several theories about the origin of the name Fisherman’s Towers or Bastion. One says the walls were protected by fishermen who lived down in the village, also known as Budapest’s Fishermen’s Quarter, and who also protected the walls during the war.
Others say the name was used simply in memory of the fishermen who lived along the Danube.
And the third theory is that the fish market of the castle next to the church Matthias gave its name to the Fisherman’s Bastion. But whatever the reason for this, everyone loves the name and the terrace and admires the views and atmosphere. No matter how long your holiday in Budapest is, take a few minutes to visit the Bastion because of the wonderful scenery and the enchanting views.
This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)