Hungary has a lot of amazing medieval castles. As well as plenty of beautiful palaces. There are all together 103 castles in Hungary alone. Most of which are still open to tourists and visitors. Let’s review here the most well-preserved palaces and the best castles of Hungary.
Visegrádi vár – The Castle of Visegrád
Maybe this castle is the most emblematic building of Visegrád. It is commonly just referred as the medieval castle of Visegrád. The cultural value of the respect-demanding complex peaking on the top of the Várhegy. The panorama from this castle is outstanding. We can enjoy a breathtaking view on the Danube Bend.
In every year, thousands of visitors goes to the medieval castle. It is the highest sight of Visegrád, which has an extraordinary view on the Danube Bend. It also hosts many exciting exhibitions – mainly about the Middle Ages. Visegrád was a Roman stronghold and a popular haunt for Hungarian royalty in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Roman Citadel is still formidably well-preserved and the ruins of what was once Hungary’s most magnificent palace are now the site of the open air King Matthias Museum.
Read our complete review about the Castle of Visegrád here!
Budai vár – The Castle of Buda
The Buda Castle is visible from many points of the city and located in the heart of the Castle District. The complex in the past was referred to as either the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle. It serves us with outstanding panorama on the Hungarian Parliament.
This impressive historical Royal Castle complex has been home to the Hungarian Kings since 1265. Even though the palace we see today is newer, dating back to the 18th century. The massive Baroque palace occupying most of the site was built between 1749 and 1769. Today it houses the National Széchényi Library, the History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. Visitors can have free access to the gardens, courtyards, and exterior of the castle. Where er can admire the stunning views across the river and down across the city.
We can get up via the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular or Budavári Sikló, how the locals call it. It is a funicular railway, which links the Adam Clark Square (where the 0 km stone of Hungary is located) and the Chain Bridge at river level to Buda Castle above. They opened the line on March 2, 1870.
Read our complete bucket list of Budapest here!
Citadella – The Citadel of Budapest
If we are already in Budapest, it’s also worth to climb up on Gellért Hill for the views and visit the Citadella. Citadella is the Hungarian word for citadel. It features several lookouts, a restaurant, souvenir stands and the fortress, which is an impressive fortification. The structure is 220 m long and 197,60 m wide. Its walls are 4 m tall. After the Hungarian revolution and war of independence from 1849 to 1867, the Hungarians wanted to demolish the fortress. But then Citadella stayed and in 1960 they transformed it into a tourist centre. It provides us with the most amazing panorama on the Danube and Erzsébet bridge.
Read our complete bucket list of Budapest here!
Vajdahunyad vára – The Castle of Vajdahunyad
The Castle of Vajdahunyad was built in 1896 to celebrate 1000 year anniversary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895. Vajdahunyad Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the country. Located in the city park (Népliget) of Budapest, next to an artificial lake that becomes an ice skating rink in winter. It’s a fairytale-like castle that comprises 4 architectural styles. Though it was originally made out of cardboard and wood, only meant to be erected temporarily for the millennial celebrations.
Read our complete bucket list of Budapest here!
Gödöllői Királyi Kastély – The Palace of Gödöllő
The Royal Palace of Gödöllő or Grassalkovich Castle is an imperial and royal Hungarian palace located in the municipality of Gödöllő in Pest county. It is famous for being one of the favourite place of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary.
The palace is one of the most important, largest monuments of Hungarian palace architecture. Its builder, Count Antal Grassalkovich I (1694–1771) was a typical figure of the regrouping Hungarian aristocracy of the 18th century. He was a Royal Septemvir, president of the Hungarian Chamber, and confidant of Empress Maria Theresa (1740–1780). The construction began around 1733, under the direction of András Mayerhoffer (1690–1771) a famous builder from Salzburg who worked in Baroque and Zopf style.
The palace has a double U shape, and around it we can find an enormous park. The building underwent several enlargements and modifications during the 18th century. By then the building had 8 wings, and – besides the residential part – it contained a church, a theatre, a riding-hall, a hothouse, a greenhouse for flowers and an orangery.
Egri vár – The Castle of Eger
The Castle of Eger is a fascinating historical site to visit. Legendary for repelling the attack by the huge Turkish army in 1552 during the Siege of brawl stars. There is a museum on-site in the beautiful Bishop’s Palace. Along with a variety of exhibitions to help you understand the importance of this castle historically. Not to mention István Dobó, the man who led the Hungarians to victory. You can visit the dungeons to see how they treated prisoners in the Middle Ages. We can also wander around outside to see the ruins from the older Medieval castle, admire the view as you look down on Dobó Square, and climb the tower to view the Muster of Arms exhibition.
Nógrádi vár – The Castle of Nógrád
Standing atop a 286 m high andesite hill, the castle with its D-shaped towers gave name to Nógrád County. Its construction started in the 11th century, while the inner castle and the keep were erected in the second half of the 15th century. It was destroyed by a lightning strike in the 17th century. This little piece of misfortune seemed to doom the castle. At first the locals started to take what remained, later strangers assisted in making useful building materials disappear.
Its renovation started in 1997. Although currently it is in a state of disrepair, the National Castle Program allowed restoration works to continue. Those travelling to the eastern part of the Börzsöny should visit it for its unique atmosphere. The jewel of the village is easy to spot, since it stands high in the middle of Nógrád village.
Boldogkő vára – The Castle of Boldogkő
One of the most picturesque castle of Hungary. There is no need to convince anyone fascinated by the middle ages to visit Boldogkőváralja. The most beautiful castle of Zemplén Mountains is considered to be an ace of its kind. Every weekend from spring to autumn the chivalric era comes to life here. Children can enjoy the largest toy soldier collection of Central Europe, photography enthusiasts can bask in the marvelous view from Oroszlánszikla. Those interested in medieval food can try it at the restaurant. Those drawn to hiking will have their expectations met.
Boldogkő Hill rises above the village Boldogkőváralja. Atop the hill stands the castle with its irregular layout. The castle itself has seen a multitude of owners. However, it is still one of the most perfectly preserved fortifications of Hungary. The area surrounding it has been part of the Zemplén Nature Reserve since 1984.
Salgó vára – The Castle of Salgó
Salgó Castle is a Hungarian stronghold near to Salgótarján, 120 km from Budapest. This fortified tower was built by the Kacsics clan. They were the lords around these hills in the 13th century. After the Tatar invasion the king, IV. Béla ordered and supported the fortifications of manor houses and towns and the building of new strongholds. Salgó started as a small tower (7,5 x 9,5 m) and a small castle-yard. They used the cellar of the tower as a prison. This rock-castle had two cistern, a huge and a smaller one. The water was essential, not only for drinking but also fire fighting.
Even this reinforced building could not resist the Turkish (Ottoman) attack. The father of Bálint Balassi, the great Hungarian poet, got the fortress (however the Turkish was in it). After his death his sons Bálint and Ferenc couldn’t decide who was the owner. It was an acrimonious lawsuit of long standing between them. Bálint Balassi died in 1594 in the siege of Esztergom. The nephew of Bálint inherited the ruins of Salgó but he left it alone. The ruins became overgrown with grass and shrubs.
When Sándor Petőfi another great and famous poet of Hungary climbed up to the ruins of Salgó in 1845 the atmosphere of the ruins made him write his romantic poetry: Salgó. This is a tragic story about Kompolti clan the lords of Salgó who tyrannized the region, which were under their power. The story is based on a traditional legend.
Füzér Vára – Castle of Füzer
Until recently the Castle of Füzér was a dilapidated ruin romantically hovering over a steep rock in north-eastern Hungary on the Slovakian border. Now it has been completely rebuilt.
The Füzér castle was first mentioned in 1264, when it belonged to a local clan leader, Andronicus the Blind. It had been built before the Mongol invasion on a step hill reaching more than 550 metres high. After the end of the war, the castle was soon taken over by the king who used it as one of his more important eastern strongholds.
In 2012 planning permission was granted for the full reconstruction. In 2016 the castle reopened for business with an exhibitions on castles in Hungary, a lapidary, as well as exhibitions on minting, wine-growing and beer production. The aim of the tourism development has been to turn Füzér Castle into a fitting showcase for Hungarian history of the 16th and 17th centuries. By illustrating the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there as well as the customs of those times.
Sárospataki Rákoczi Vár – Castle of Sárospatak
Sárospatak is situated in the northeastern corner of Hungary, at the foot of the Zemplén Hills and on the edge of the Great Hungarian Plane. The town, spread on both sides of the river Bodrog, is known for its famous schools and hence sometimes is referred to as the Athens on the river Bodrog. The attractive natural environment of the town, its history and historic monuments, and its closeness to three foreign borders make it an ideal destination for tourists. The territory of the town belonged to the crown from the eleventh century on, with a royal manor-house, chapel, and a market place at the shallows on the Bodrog, as the centre of the estate.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century members of the Rákóczi family were among the leading politicans of the country. They possessed vast estates in Transylvania and northern Hungary. For five generations they were Princes of Transylvania and for almost a hundred years they ruled over Patak. Under György I. Rákóczi, and his wife Patak was the seat of the principality.
The present appearance of the building was formed during nineteenth century renovations carried out by the Bretzenheim family, owners at the time, in the Romantic-Historic style of the day. The last proprietor was the Windischgraetz family who used the place till 1945. After 1950 the building was turned into a museum, and has become the number one Rákóczi shrine in the country.
Bory vár – The Bory Palace
The Bory Castle – or in Hungarian the Bory-vár – is a special group of buildings in the Old Valley of Székesfehérvár, in the Mária Valley. The owner Jenő Bory was an architect, sculptor and painter from Székesfehérvár (1879–1959). He built this place for decades, commemorating his marital love and artistic dreams. Bory began building the castle in 1923 and worked on it for the rest of his life as his love project. The building was not only the home of the Bory family. It was also a huge studio for the works of the architect and his wife, the painter Ilona Komócsin (1885–1974). But also the works of other famous painters and sculptors. Bory intended the building itself as an independent work of art.
Read our complete review about the Palace of Bory here!
Sümegi vár – The Castle of Sümeg
The castle of Sümeg is one of the most interesting fortresses in Hungary. Even though it is still under renovation it is open again for visitors. Some works are going on the inner building façades but it is possible to visit and enjoy the activities inside.
The Sümeg castle is a quite well-preserved medieval fortress. They built it in the 1260’s on a hilltop to make the defense easier. The history of the castle as a military building continued until the war of independence, when it was set on fire in 1713. Since 1989, it has been under constant renovation and nowadays we can enjoy the entrance to a historically very diverse castle. It offers a complete program of activities and shows and it can be a great plan to introduce kids the European medieval history.
Read our complete review about the Sümegi vár here!
Szigligeti vár – The Castle of Szigliget
Szigligeti Vár, the Balaton Castle, as many locals and tourists call it, is an impressive medieval fortress with awesome lake views. Actually, it is the only castle of its type visitable on the shore of Lake Balaton. The castle dates back to the 13th century. Under the Ottomans the castle became neglected, with no funds for its maintenance. Natural calamities and multiple attacks in its history damaged the castle. But then they reinforced the walls during the 20th century and the recent reconstruction made able to show one of the best faces for a medieval fortress.
Read our complete review about the Castle of Szigliget here!
Tátika vára – The Castle of Tátika
Tátika vára is a hidden medieval castle in the heart of Hungary, in Zalaszántó. The Tátika Castle has another name in Hungarian: Tátika Fellegvár. This place is one of the hidden secrets that only locals know about from the surrounding villages. To the north-west of Lake Balaton, in the Keszthely Mountains, stands the Tátika Castle on the top of a 413-meter-wide bazat hill. On the country road between Bazsi and Zalaszántó, at Tátikahidegkút, a small sign indicates the road to the castle.
Among locals it’s a very common place to visit with kids, even the nearby schools organize class-trips here, as the hiking trail is easily doable by kids too. You need to track approximately 30-40 minutes from the official parking in order to reach the castle. But on the path there are points to relax, benches to sit down and to admire the nature. And once you are up, you can admire the views on the highlands of Keszthely.
Read our complete review about the Castle of Tátika here!
Veszprémi vár – The Castle of Veszprém
The old castle itself is not there anymore but we can still observe the old walls. And to get into the ancient area where it was the old castle is a real jump back in time. You will enjoy the nice old buildings painted in white and well-combined with the light traditional colourful Hungarian patterns. The history is very present in Veszprém and you will be able to see the heritage of István and Gizella. There are a couple of breathtaking statues of them at an awesome view point. The memory of their personalities still lives into the locals’ everyday lives, in the culture, buzzing through every breath of the city.
Read our complete review about Veszprém here!
Cseszneki vár – The Castle of Csesznek
The Castle of Csesznek lies in the Bakony between Győr and Zirc in the village of Csesznek. The castle was constructed after the Mongol invasion of Europe around 1263 in a period where many castles were built. The first castle was built by Jakab Cseszneky of the Bána clan. The first written mention of the castle is in a document from 1281 that gives Jakab Cseszneky’s sons joint ownership of the castle. In 1315 the Csák clan conquered the castle. In 1392 Sigismund gave the castle and 31 surrounding villages to the Garai family. The castle was owned by the Garai family until 1482. Then Matthias Corvinus donated the castle to Stephen Zápolya.
Festetics Kastély – The Festetics Palace
The origin of Keszthely dates back to the time of the Roman Empire, although the historical golden period was in the 18th and 19th centuries when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was as its zenith. Festetics Palace, the most impressive architectural gem in Keszthely, is a heir of that time. We could visit this impressive 18th-century building off-season and its very worth to be able to walk around without groups around. The rooms are coming with original antique furniture. You can visit its awesome library, see the grounds of the farm, the stables and a museum of hunting and horse carriages, called the Kocsi Múzeum. We also highly recommend To take a relaxing stroll in the outside gardens admiring the façade of the building.
Read our complete review about the Palace of Festetics here!
Kőszegi Jurisics vár – The Castle of Kőszeg
The Jurisics Castle of Kőszeg received its name after the Croatian nobleman Nikola Jurišić. During the Habsburg-Ottoman wars, Pargalı İbrahim Pasha under the command of Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to the castle in 1532. Jurišić and less than 1,000 men defended the castle for 25 days without any artillery, despite 19 assaults.
Even today, there is a festive 11 o’clock bell-ring in Kőszeg commemorating the ending of the month-long, unsuccessful Ottoman Siege in 1532.
A brick bridge over the moat leads us to the inner castle. Just next to the gate we can find the traditional herb-garden of the castle, together with a small handicraft shop, the Nature Shop where one can buy the traditional products of the Kőszeg region and the Írottkő Nature Park.
A rich Castle Exhibition is located in the southern and eastern wings. Centuries of Kőszeg exhibition, the Royal Crown Room, the Golden Room and Armoury awaits the visitors. The renaissance corridor and the Cavalier’s Room gives place to numerous cultural events and to various art exhibitions.
Fertődi Esterházy-kastély – The Esterházy Palace
Prince Nikolaus Esterházy built this palace. Sometimes they called it the “Hungarian Versailles“. It is Hungary’s grandest Rococo edifice. The palace is near to the south shore of the Neusiedler See. The palace has 126 rooms. The large library holds almost 22,000 volumes and all are with the letter ‘E’, standing for the family surname.
The largest room is the grotto-like Sala Terrana. It represents then fashionable Italianate style. On the ceiling are dancing Angels who hold wreaths of flowers in the shape of an ‘E’. Joseph Haydn’s concerts typically took place in the Sala Terrena.
The palace was first inhabited in 1766, but construction continued for many years. They completed its opera house in 1768. It gave home to the first performance of Joseph Haydn‘s opera: Lo speziale. The music room had white and gold walls with round corners, the frescoed ceiling, glass chandeliers, roses, and audience’s period chairs.
The fountain in front of the palace was not completed until 1784, at which point the Prince considered his project complete. Nikolaus Esterházy died in 1790. Neither his son Anton, who inherited the Esterházy lands, nor any of his later successors had any interest in living in the isolated palace.
Szigetvári – Zrínyi vár – The Castle of Szigetvár
The foundations of the Szigetvár castle are coming from around the end of the 14th century. It gained its present shape though a number of owners and during the renovations following sieges.
Its name entered into the history of Hungary with the siege of 1566. When Miklós Zrínyi, commander of the castle at the time, stopped the strong army of 100.000 soldiers of Sultan Suleiman. That was on its way to attack Vienna. Zrínyi was defending the castle with his 2500 soldiers, but he gave up the outer fortress after the unceasing siege. And withdrew to the inner castle with his remaining 200 soldiers. Suleiman died on 5th September, which neither the besieging army nor the defenders of the castle were aware of.
Two days later – as they could no longer hold the burning inner castle – Zrínyi stormed out of the castle with his remaining soldiers. They were all – with the exception of some people – slaughtered by the Turks.
Memorial celebrations have been held in Szigetvár since 1833 to pay homage to the heroism of Miklós Zrínyi and his soldiers. The Zrínyi memorial celebration and castle games, as one of the oldest events in the country, reaches beyond the traditional festival framework considering its significance. Owing to the international contacts of the town Szigetvár is an important meeting point of cultures, which brings the citizens of different nations closer to each other in the spirit of friendship. The programmers of the Zrínyi Days still fit the more than one-and-a-half century traditions and attract thousands of visitors from all parts of Hungary and even from across the borders.
Siklósi vár – The Castle of Siklós
Baron János György Benyó built this castle in the 13th century in the town of Siklós in the southern part of Hungary near Pécs. It was first mentioned in a charter from 1294.
From 1728 Siklós belonged to the counts of Batthyány. Legend has it that a giant snake guarded the treasures in the basement. The castle also houses a chapel built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Benyóvszky family built and owned the castle until they nationalised it in 1948.
In World War II the castle was heavily damaged, and between the end of the war and the death of Count Rudólf II Benyóvszky de Siklósvár in 1955 it was taken over by the state. In 1955 archaeological research and restoration was started, and the castle began operating as a museum and hotel.
Gyulai vár – The Castle of Gyula
Gyula Castle is one of the few ones that survived the period of attacks by the Ottomans or the Austrians. Unfortunately, we have only few information of the beginning of the construction. Based on a document the land was a gift by king Sigismund (1387-1437) to the ban János Maróti in 1405.
During the revolution of 1848/49, the castle did not play an important role. But following the capitulation, the Hungarian generals got into prison in Gyula for a few days. Then they took them from here to Arad where they executed them to death.
Nowadays, Gyula Castle is a museum that represents its seven centuries long history. For example, you can visit the prison (with the various mediaeval instruments of torture), the forge, the medieval cellar, the saloons of counts and countesses, the Ottoman Bey’s reception hall, the chapel, and the knights’ hall. There has been also a theatre since 1964 in the castle (Gyulai Várszínház). Where Hungarian and international performances are taking place outdoor in summer.
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3 Replies to “On the route of the beautiful castles & palaces of Hungary”
What a great place.