Once and now; a walk in the Buda Castle

The Buda Castle is our emblematic building. During its stirring history, it was under siege at least as many years as it was left abandoned and ruined. Renovations and reconstructions, enlargements and breakdowns formed it to its present shape, which is owing to the reconstruction from the 1960s to 1985. We do not want to make judgements or answer architectural historic questions. This week’s ‘once and now’ selection is about the demolished, transformed or miraculously saved parts of the palace complex. Have a nice browsing!

Reconstructed Middle Ages

VF_12_714.jpgBuda was made a royal seat first by Béla IV of Hungary, thus the Castle quarter functioned primarily as a fortress after the Mongol invasion. The medieval palace was almost totally destroyed after the Ottoman invasion and the reconquest 150 years later. The exploration and restoration of the fortress system that you can see today started after the World War II. Characteristically of the period, the restoration of medieval parts was done to the detriment of historic forms, as you can see in the case of Buzogánytorony (Mace Tower).

The tower that was built under King Sigismund (1387-1437) is medieval, but the claviform roof is a typical twenty-century idea. The bastion that was probably higher and slimmer became vulnerable when cannons appeared, thus it was widened and shortened in order to be able to function as a rampart, and it remained so until the 1950s. When the excavations started, they found the original core of the tower building, and they completed it with the roof that can be seen today. Therefore, we got a medieval fortress again.

The dome; the divisive

VF_38_558_2.jpgDuring the period of Compromise, the palace was extended, first based on Miklós Ybl’s plans and after his death Alajos Hauszmann’s plans. The dome is Hauszmann’s merit, finished by 1904, and it wished to be the counterpoint of the dome on the Parliament. The style definition of Hauszmann’s dome is not easy, as it has both baroque and historicist marks. In fact, it was decorated by groups of sculpts; windows were put on its four sides and its top was crowned by the copy of the Holy Crown of Hungary.

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The siege of Budapest caused huge damages to the palace and the dome, half of which was destroyed. The draft, whose result can be seen presently, was finished by 1961. The Hauszmann dome was pulled down; the new, higher dome – lacking any artistic decorations – was constructed by 1963. Most critics are cross with the supervisors not only because of the puritan solutions. It is true that the present dome is mightier, but many people think that the old, smaller dome was more suitable to the Castle Hill, because the new one almost overlies the hill.

A miraculous near escape

2015_44570_AdfBM.jpgThe story of the chapel began with the history of the relic from Ragusa, owing to Maria Theresa. How could it remain intact? During the siege in 1944, the upper level of the palace crashed down on its vault and covered the little chapel with its ruins. Thus, Károly Lotz’s and Miksa Róth’s mosaics slumbered under the debris for almost 12 years, until the 1950s. It was to be feared that the decoration of the intact shrine would be perished by the restoration work, but fortunately the news of the miraculous survival of the chapel spread around. Pastor Dr. Sándor Pintér from Balatonalmádi managed to organise a truck from Budapest, loaded with gilded mosaics, marble blocks, candlesticks and wrought-iron gates, to the direction of Lake Balaton, where the chapel was rebuilt and can be admired still today.


Translated by Zita Aknai

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