Medieval Royal Palace (Buda Castle) - The Palace Wing

The Palace Wing

Architect László Gerő in 1958-1962 partially recreated the façades of the Gothic castle facing the narrow southern, western and eastern courts. Only the ground and first floors were reconstructed although the castle was originally much higher. The unfinished state of the façade is indicated by the fact that roof is flat – the castle is simply cut in the line of the Baroque terrace above it. There are two windows opening towards the southern and another two opening towards the eastern court. The four windows are almost identical and all belong to the Gothic Hall behind them. They are square, four-panel stone windows of very fine Gothic craftmanship. Their outer frame is decorated with small columns. One window which had been walled up was discovered in situ during the archeological research, and the others were reconstructed from fragments by sculptor Ernő Szakál by means of anastylosis. The ground floor openings are more simple. An arched stone doorway gives access to the southern court from the cellar under the Gothic Hall.

The façade was originally plastered. The whitewashed surface was decorated with a painted pattern in rusty hue, resembling to rustication. Painted geometrical decoration was common feature on the medieval buildings of Buda. Fragments of the decoration were discovered on the eastern façade but the it wasn't restored.

There is a Gothic balcony tower projecting from the wall at the end of the eastern façade. It is the only second floor part of the medieval palace which was recreated in 1958-62. Its reconstruction was a much debated issue because the balcony tower goes above the level of the Baroque terrace, disturbing the harmonious panorama of the palace. On the other hand it clearly indicates the existence of the missing higher floors.

The balcony tower is a two-storey high structure which stands on a wide stone basement. The first floor is made up of a solid stone wall without any openings. The niche behind it belongs to the Gothic Hall. The second floor is a closed balcony with three windows. Originally it must have been part of an important ceremonial room. Now there is no room behind the façade, which was closed off with a glass wall from behind. The ground plan of the balcony shows the half of an octagon. The three Gothic double lancet windows are the most important architectural elements of the tower. The profiles, frames and mullions were restored in a simplified form but many original stones were also built in. The tower is covered with a flat metal roof.

The building of the Gothic Hall is connected to the Stephen's Castle (István vár) on the western side. It is the oldest part of the medieval royal palace which was built in the 1340s-1370s. It was named after Prince Stephen, Duke of Slavonia, the younger brother of King Louis I of Hungary. Only the foundation of the so-called Stephen's Tower and three interconnected, barrel-vaulted rooms survived from the original castle.

The Stephen's Tower (István torony) was the keep of Stephen's Castle. It was a huge building which was shown in every old picture of Buda Castle with its typical turreted spire. It was destroyed by an explosion in 1686. Only the ground floor walls were discovered after 1946. It was a square building (11,7 x 11,1 m), built upon the natural rock surface of Castle Hill. The walls are 2,31-2,7 m thick. There are narrow loopholes on the southern, western and northern sides. The original doorway on the eastern side was walled up after the Gothic Hall was built in the 15th century.

The siting of the tower was different from the later buildings and the triangle in front of it was walled up to create a continuous southern façade for the palace. During the post-war reconstruction this part of the façade (with a broken stone doorway) was not reconstructed to make it obvious that the Stephen's Tower was originally a free-standing structure. On the ground floor of the tower there was a vaulted room (6,2 x 6,3 m) which was still intact in 1820 according to a contemporary drawing. Although the ribs, corbels and the key stone was discovered during the archeological research, this room wasn't reconstructed. A spiral stairway had connected the room with the missing higher floors.

The remaining part of the Stephen's Castle (with the barrel-vaulted rooms behind) has a simple stone façade with a Gothic doorway. The pointed arch was restored.

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