Insider's Guide: Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest

  • 7 Jun 2023 7:53 AM
Insider's Guide: Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest
This captivating capital is home to a wide array of architectural wonders, and in this series of guides we explore the fascinating stories and key facts worth knowing about these remarkable landmarks. Our focus here is on the enchanting Halászbástya, as it's know to Hungarians.

This panoramic icon on Castle Hill overlooking the Danube and Pest stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.

So let’s delve into the intriguing story of this architectural confection and discover why Fishermen’s Bastion attracts so many visitors every day, and why it's worth visiting now and again.

What is Fishermen’s Bastion?

Fishermen’s Bastion has somewhat romantic feel to it, with its striking neo-Gothic terrace that offers stunning views over Budapest.

It was built as a symbolic tribute to the medieval fishermen who worked in this part of the city, bringing fish up from the river immediately below.

This ornamental structure serves as a remarkable viewing platform and complements the beauty of the nearby magnificent Matthias Church.

The bastion’s awe-inspiring architecture and intricate details make it a captivating sight, attracting hordes of visitors every day – so go early to get photos without many tourists around.

Each of its seven towers offers a unique perspective and adds to the charm of this architectural gem.

As you ascend the stairs and venture into the towers, you'll be rewarded with panoramic city views, the Danube backdropped by the iconic landmarks that dot the Budapest skyline.

Why was Fishermen’s Bastion created?

History suggests it owes its name to a medieval fishermen’s guild, who lived under the castle walls in Vizivaros, the district of Watertown. They were the ones responsible for preserving this part of the city.

The creation of Fishermen’s Bastion was driven by a desire to honour those who safeguarded the then separate city of Buda during medieval times.

It therefore serves as a reminder of their bravery and dedication.

When was Fishermen’s Bastion built?

Despite appearances, Fishermen’s Bastion isn’t actually all that ancient. Construction began in 1895 and was completed in 1902.

The bastion was designed by the renowned Hungarian architect Frigyes Schulek, who had been responsible for the complete makeover of nearby Matthias Church.

With enough budget and the same team in place, Schulek duly erected Fishermen’s Bastion, almost as an afterthought. He took his inspiration from various architectural styles, including Neo-Gothic and Neo- Romanesque, resulting in the unique and visually striking structure you see today.

What else should I know?

It was created as part of a series of urban developments to celebrate the 1,000th birthday of the Hungarian state that took place in the mid 1890s.

There is a lower terrace, which is free, and an upper terrace that requires paid admission. One of the intriguing aspects of Fishermen's Bastion is that it was purely ornamental and not used for defensive purposes.

The towers symbolise the seven chieftains of Hungary, who founded the nation in 895. At the bottom of the stairs leading up to Fishermen’s Bastion, you can see a statue of St. George with a dragon.

At the top of the stairs under the arches are statues of medieval soldiers standing sentry. Dominating the square immediately in front of Fishermen’s Bastion, is a statue of St Stephen, the first king of Hungary from 1000 to 1038.

Where is Fishermen’s Bastion exactly?

Fishermen's Bastion is nestled on Castle Hill, amid the cobbled streets of Buda’s historic First District on Szentháromság tér, deep in tourist central.

This is invariably the first port of call for all new visitors, riding the funicular from the Buda side of Chain Bridge to take in Buda Castle, Matthias Church and this ornate architectural creation alongside. Its amazing location offers breathtaking views over the Danube, the Parliament building and the landmark-rich Pest side of the city.

Visiting Fishermen’s Bastion provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Budapest’s rich history and take in some of the best views that the capital has to offer.

You can then take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts, exploring the seven towers, or just bask in its enchanting atmosphere.

To sum up, why visit Fishermen’s Bastion (again)?

This architectural wonder is sure to leave an indelible mark on your stay in Hungary, whether you're a history enthusiast, a selfie junkie, or simply looking for a walk with a truly awesome view over the main bridges of Budapest, Gellért Hill, Margaret Island and much more.

The magic of exploring the fairy-tale style Fishermen's Bastion not only allows you to connect with Budapest’s labyrinthine history, it also provides you with an opportunity to create lasting memories with friends and family in a truly remarkable setting, time and time again.

Words by Peterjon Cresswell for
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website

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