On our first full day in Budapest, we crossed the Chain Bridge and took the funicular (which is a type of railway that goes up the side of a mountain) to the top of the hill in order to walk around the Castle District. The Royal Palace, also referred to as Buda Castle, is certainly one of the most dominant features in Budapest. Whether during the day or at night, when it is lit up, the palace can be seen from almost everyplace in Pest. There are definitely many wonderful things to see within the Castle District, but the Royal Palace is the most important site to visit. As we’ve mentioned before, Budapest is really two cities, Buda and Pest, that were combined when the first permanent bridge was created, so Buda Castle is the main site to visit on the Buda side of the river.
Unlike a lot of other palaces, the inside of the Royal Palace is not a representation of what life would have been like hundreds of years ago when the aristocrats lived there that can be toured. Instead it houses both the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum as well as the Hungarian National Library. One of the most interesting features of the Royal Palace is the fountain depicting a hunting scene that is in the main courtyard. Like many palaces, the Royal Palace is really a complex of buildings with the main residence being the main focal point. This makes for an interesting mix of architectural styles as you walk amongst the complex.
We decided to take the stairs along the castle wall back down to the river, which gave us wonderful views of the city. No surprisingly considering the size of the Royal Palace, many of our photographs of the palace were actually taken from across the Danube River, the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica, and even from the Citadel, which is also on the Buda side of the river. Seeing the Royal Palace lit up at night with its reflection in the water is probably one of the most iconic images of the castle and is even the main picture on the castle’s website. It is pretty much impossible not to see the Royal Palace during a visit to Budapest, but it is certainly worth taking the time to go to the Castle District and walking around the grounds.