is one of my favorite spots in Budapest
. While loosely modelled after a Transylvania
of the same name, the building is not really a castle at all:
it's a (very large) scale model built for Hungary's 1896
celebrations. The structure has three distinct wings, one Gothic
and one Baroque
, making it quite a bizarre sight when
seen from a distance! But sneak up closer and its magic will be
revealed: thanks to the moat, the trees and the carefully laid footpaths,
you can usually only see one section at a time. The attention to detail
(all copied from real sites around the country)
has been painstaking, so it's like seeing three extraordinarily pretty
castles rolled into one.
The structure was originally supposed to be only a temporary one,
but Budapest's people liked it so much that it was rebuilt to last.
The baroque wing is the only part open to the public, and it now
houses the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, featuring exhibits
on breathtaking topics like cattle breeding and fishing.
But at 50 Ft a throw for students it's worth seeing just
for the architecture. The castle itself is set on a little island
in a lake within Városliget
(City Park), the leafiest spot in Pest, and is easily accessible
with the yellow subway line (nearest station Hősök tere).
Entry into the park, including the castle grounds, is free.
There are two additional spots of interest in the castle grounds.
First is the Ják Chapel (Jáki kápolna), another creatively
borrowed building, this time based on the Abbey Church of Ják
in Western Transdanubia. The outstanding part of the chapel is
the portal around the doorway, an amazingly ornate multilayered
sculpture of geometric patterns, apostles and lions. Next to the
chapel is the statue of Anonymus, a hooded monk representing
the unknown historian who recorded the annals of the early Magyars
in the time of the mighty King Béla. (He is unknown partly
because the King Béla he dedicated his work to
could be any of 3 or 4 during the 12 and 13th centuries.) Hungarian
writers still trek to the statue to touch his quill for inspiration.