Medieval Royal Palace (Buda Castle) - Historical Background

Historical Background

The oldest part of the present-day palace was built in the 14th century by Prince Stephen, Duke of Slavonia, the younger brother of King Louis I of Hungary. The Gothic palace of King Louis I was arranged around a narrow courtyard next to the Stephen's Tower.

King Sigismund Luxemburg of Hungary greatly enlarged the palace. During his long reign it became probably the largest Gothic palace of the late Middle Ages. Buda was also an important artistic centre of the International Gothic style.

The last phase of grand-scale building activity happened under King Matthias Corvinus when Italian artists and craftsmen arrived at Buda. The Hungarian capital became the first centre of Renaissance north of the Alps.

On 29 August 1541 Buda was occupied by the Ottomans without any resistance. It became part of Ottoman Empire as the seat of the Eyalet of Budin.

The Ottoman government left the palace decaying. It was partially used as barracks, storage place and stables, otherwise it stood empty.

The medieval palace was destroyed in the great siege of 1686 when Buda was captured by the allied Christian forces. In the heavy artillery bombardment many buildings collapsed and burned out.

In 1715 King Charles III ordered the demolition of the ruins. Luckily the southern fortifications, zwingers and rooms were only buried under tons of rubbish and earth.

After the Baroque and turn of the 19th to 20th century Royal Palace of the Habsburgs was destroyed in World War II archeological research was begun to unearth the remains of the medieval castle. It came out that important parts of the former Sigismund and Matthias palace survived under the thick level of earth fill.

The medieval rooms were reconstructed after 1952 according to the plans of László Gerő and they were converted into museum space. The most important archeological finds from the palace are displayed in the Budapest History Museum.

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