Since 1987, Buda Castle has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Buda Castle Quarter. Its area encompasses a wide variety of structures ranging from mediaeval architectural monuments to residential and public buildings from the nineteenth century.
The construction of the Castle was part of the defensive measures taken by King Béla IV after the Mongol invasion of 1241–1242. Like the previous capital, the less protected Óbuda (a thriving city even in ancient times) – the new stronghold was also situated near the Danube River and was intended to provide much more security for its residents. To avert any future – and supposedly imminent – Mongol offensives, the scarcely populated highland area atop the steep Castle Hill was selected as the location for the stronghold city surrounded by massive walls and towers. Construction commenced in 1243. Due to its geography, the relocated capital was perfectly suitable for withstanding sieges and still remained an important center for trade in the Kingdom of Hungary.
The walled city – a present-day district of Budapest – consisted of three main sections: the Royal Palace, St George Square, and the historical residential quarter.
In his 1255 charter Béla IV noted he had raised a “castle on Pest Hill filled with a multitude of people” (“in monte Pestiensi castrum quoddam exstrui fecimus refertum multitudine hominum numerosa “).
In the 1330s, Hungary’s Anjou kings began construction on the Southern part of Castle Hill. In 1354, King Louis the Great moved his court from Visegrád to Buda (Andrew III (András) had already used Buda Castle as his permanent seat). Afterwards, the development of both the castle and the palace was uninterrupted up until the time of the Ottoman occupation (as of the 16th century). King Sigismund had the Fresh Palace built between 1410 and 1430. (The palace was destroyed as a result of gunpowder explosions in 1578 and 1686). The construction of the medieval palace, the throne room, the royal suite, the observatory, the library, and the Southern Great Rondella was completed by King Matthias (Mátyás).
The Ottoman army seized the castle in 1541 and it remained under Turkish control until it was recaptured by an allied Christian army on 2 September 1686. During these battles, the walls sustained extensive damage as the armies led by Charles of Lotharingia /-rin dji: e/ had to unleash heavy cannon fire in order to retake the stronghold. Reconstruction began immediately after the siege. However, only 150 years later, Buda Castle was once again seriously damaged. After Hungary’s War of Independence of 1848–49 was crushed by combined Austrian and Russian forces, efforts were made to restore the ruined castle. As part of the reconstruction between 1875 and 1882, the Royal Garden Pavilion was built, while one of the bastions and the connecting wall section along the side of the Danube was pulled down. During World War II, a large portion of the Royal Palace and the Castle Quarter was destroyed. However, most of the buildings have been restored close to their original state or rebuilt with newer and simpler facades.
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