Why we love Fisherman’s Bastion
Though the site was once a fortress, what you see there today is of relatively recent vintage, having been erected ― like much of modern Budapest, actually ― in the late 1800s. The current structure was never used as a fortification to defend the city, but some of the old fortress walls are still visible at the site.
Architecturally, it’s gorgeous. If you’ve ever seen the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland or the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, both of which are based in part on the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, you have a sense of what Fisherman’s Bastion looks like. It’s nowhere near as big as those castles, but it’s just as pretty to look at.
Fisherman’s Bastion was designed in the Neo-Romanesque style popular in the Middle Ages, when the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen, started to rule. A statue of St. Stephen is given a place of prominence on the grounds. Also, the bastion’s seven towers feature the seven Hungarian chieftains who led their tribes to settle the area of present-day Hungary in 895.
Another reason to visit the bastion is that it is a neighbor to Matthias Church, a building possibly founded way back in 1015 but then destroyed in 1242 by a horde of invading Mongols. The current church building was completed in 1270 and renovated in 1789. In a rarity for churches that are still in use, photos are allowed to be taken inside. There is an entrance fee, though, of HUF 1500 for adults. Students and seniors pay a reduced rate, as do families of two adults and one child. Children younger than 6 are free. A separate fee will get you entrance to the church tower.
Whom is it for?
Fisherman’s Bastion is suitable for all visitors to Budapest: for couples, for families, for backpackers and more.
Hours and fees
Many of the bastion’s towers and balconies are free to enter, and there’s no cost to get onto the general grounds, either. Some of the uppermost turrets (on the south side) have a small entrance fee that helps pay for the maintenance of the facility. Children younger than 6 are always free, and the most expensive tickets are those for adults, at 800 HUF each. Students and pensioners pay half-price, or 400 HUF.
During the winter, entrance to all of Fisherman’s Bastion is free, as there are no people around to sell or collect tickets; during the tourist season, though, you’ll definitely need to pay.
Entrance to Matthias Church and to the tower are separate, and the cost is 1500 HUF for adults and 1000 HUF for students and seniors. For more information on pricing, visit the Fisherman’s Bastion website.
Neighboring the gorgeous St. Matthias Church is a large Hilton Hotel. It gets a lot of criticism for its garishly imposing facade, but you’ll appreciate it more if you understand the history that makes it exceptional. In his fascinating book “Postwar,” which chronicles developments in Europe after World War II, historian Tony Judt cites the hotel as an example of the leeway afforded Hungary by its Communist rulers during the 1970s and ’80s:
“Hungary, after all, was the Communist state where Hilton opened its first hotel behind the Iron Curtain, in December 1976; where Billy Graham undertook not one but three public tours in the course of the Eighties; and which was visited (and implicitly favored) by two US secretaries of State and Vice-President George Bush in that same decade. By 1988 Communist Hungary had a decidedly ‘good’ image.”
Is it stroller friendly?
If you drive here or catch a stroller-friendly bus, you can visit with a stroller. You just won’t be able to explore a whole lot. There are a number of flights of stairs up into the towers and descending from the terrace, but if you’re OK staying on the ground, a stroller is fine. Check the BKK mobile app to see which of the buses on the 16 line are stroller friendly. They’ll be marked in the app with a wheelchair symbol. On the timetables, accessible buses are underlined.
Is there food nearby?
There is a restaurant at Fisherman’s Bastion, whose prices look to be higher than you’d pay down in the city proper but don’t seem outlandish. And the views are tremendous. If you’re the type who enjoys eating out, then by all means go for it.
We’ve never eaten there, so we can’t vouch for its kid-friendliness, but it looks more upscale than the type of places we’re comfortable taking our kids. There are a few benches and places to sit on the terrace if you pack snacks.
Are restrooms available?
What to bring
At Fisherman’s Bastion, there are a couple of those machines that will flatten a coin and stamp an image onto it for a keepsake. You’ll need a HUF 5 coin to be flattened, and two HUF 100 coins to pay for the privilege.
You’ll also want to bring a camera. Like I said earlier, the views from Fisherman’s Bastion are incredible.
The 16 bus, which runs between Deák Ferenc tér and Széll Kálmán tér, is the best option for public transportation to Fisherman’s Bastion. Just get off at Szentháromság tér, which is right outside Matthias Church. If you want to walk a bit instead, the path up winding streets from Clark Ádám tér, at the Buda side of the Chain Bridge near the Buda Castle Funicular, is pleasant.
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