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Day 10: Tuesday, July 19, 2022 – Buda Castle et al.

Buda Castle stands on the east side of the Danube River across the river from our hotel which is located in Pest. It was originally completed in 1265, although the massive Baroque palace today occupying most of the site was built between 1749 and 1769.

Many of the dwellings inside the castle have a UNESCO distinction. There are specific requirements. The UNESCO artifact must be on display for the public to view. Additionally, no modifications are allowed such as enlarging the kitchen or putting air conditioning units in the front of the building.

The Buda castle has a natural cave system on multiple layers that totals around seven miles. The castle is like a time capsule. The inner part is older with each layer becoming younger as it extends outward.

In the year 896 pagan tribes were present in Hungary and, as all nomadic pagans, they would take what they wanted. With time, they stopped traveling and assimilated.

The pagans believed in one God and an endless sky (heaven). There were many similarities to Christian beliefs.

Stephen I became a Christian after an encounter with a monk. He married the sister of the Holy Roman Emperor named Gisela. He was crowned King of Hungary in 1000. Matthias Church in the Buda Castle complex has been rebuilt to reflect that time period since it was the coronation church. Today there is a wedding in the coronation chapel every 30 minutes on the weekends.

This was interesting as one can see the stained glass window behind Mary.

Stephen I died without an heir since his children had all died before him. He was afraid that the country would revert to paganism. So he gave his kingdom in perpetuity to the Virgin Mary. Every king rules in her name. The Pope is involved in the coronation. Hungary was once 80% Catholic. Now it is 39%.

The first capital was 40 miles away from Budapest. The first invaders were the Mongols and they killed 1.5 million people in one year. The country needed to repopulate and repair. They moved the capital to Buda which was more protected.

An important document in Hungarian history called The Golden Bull was written in 1222. It limited the power of the king … a little. The law established the rights of the Hungarian nobility, including the right to disobey the King when he acted contrary to law. The nobles and the church were freed from all taxes, could not be forced to go to war outside of Hungary, and were not obligated to finance it. This was also a historically important document because it set down the principles of equality for all of the nation’s nobility. After 1222 all Hungarian kings had to swear to uphold the Golden Bull. This constitution was written about the same time as the Magna Carta. There is no evidence that each knew about the other.

St. Margaret was born in Hungary, and was the eighth daughter of ten children to the Ruler of Croatia. Her parents vowed that if Hungary was liberated from the Mongol Invasion of Hungary (1241–42) they would dedicate the child to religion. The three-year-old Margaret was entrusted by her parents to the nuns. Her father built a monastery on what is now called Margaret Island which is in the Danube at Budapest.

Hungary was occupied by the Mongols, then Ottomans, then Austrians, then Germans, and then Russians.

In 1526 the entire Hungarian army was eliminated by the Ottomans in the Battle of Mohács. The Ottomans remained for 145 years.

In 1541, the Ottomans under Suleiman II invaded the castle. On their way to Vienna, Suleiman invited the queen and her infant son to come out to meet with him. At the same time Ottoman troops came to the entrance of Buda Castle. They began to slowly infiltrate into the castle as “tourists” seemingly in admiration of the architecture of the buildings. Soon there were thousands of soldiers inside so the Ottomans took it over without a fight. They told the rulers to pack their bags so they went to Bratislava.

The Ottomans kept the Jews around because they paid their taxes. Austrians repopulate in order to collect taxes. During the Industrial Revolution Jews became the engine for Hungarian development. The largest Jewish home in the Buda Castle became the SS headquarters.

Christians and Jews were allowed to stay. Ottomans changed the churches by removing Christian symbols.

This is the only part of a Christian building that remains.

Napoleon was often warring with the Habsburgs. He defeated the Habsburgs in  1809 and they fled to Buda. Later, he married a Habsburg. Weddings were a best way of combining empires.

In 1848 there was a Hungarian Revolution against the Habsbergs. Hungarians came through the same location to the castle that other invaders had used. Cannonballs are still embedded in the walls.

Saturday Gate was the gate of the Jews. Wednesday Gate was for the Germans. There was also Vienna Gate. Roads were named for the direction to the next capital.

Fisherman’s Bastion on the castle grounds was built between 1895 and 1902 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the Hungarian state. The Halaszbastya or Fisherman’s Bastion features seven towers. Each one of these towers features one of the seven Hungarian chieftains who led their peoples to present-day Hungary to settle around 895. It offers spectacular views of Pest across the river.

Much of the Buda Castle was damaged or destroyed during WWII. After leaving the castle, we hiked to an interesting stop called the Hospital In The Rock. It was a hospital during WWII and then a bomb shelter. They worked under dire conditions, the worse being when the water supply had been cut off. They were even reusing bandages!!

I took the opportunity to have an ice cream bar. Magnum Classic sure does beat the heat.
Look closely at this chess board. Only one of each piece. He asked me to play but I didn’t have the time.

We went to a place called Freedom Square. It is near the American Embassy. We saw a statue of George HW Bush. We then noticed that there was also a statue of Reagan.

Hmmm. Is this a political statement? It turns out that a French crew was making a film here and Reagan was not in that time period so they had to cover him up for a few days.

The Hungarian language is quite unique and has its roots in Finland, Estonia, and North Central Asia. Our guide told us that Chinese find it easy to learn Hungarian because of similarities. I couldn’t confirm this from any other sources.

This map from Britannica shows Uralic languages related to Hungarian.

Hungary is one of only a few countries that say the name with the last name first and the first name last. My name would be Street Brenda. I bet it is hard to fill out forms when they travel to other countries.

Szia pronounced “see ya” is hello and goodbye in Hungarian like Ciao in Italian or Aloha in Hawaiian.

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