Fisherman's Bastion

Guide to Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion is the most instagramable site of Budapest. I can prove it.

First, let’s start with a challenge

Go to Instagram, search for #Fishermansbastion and see it for yourself. Instagram influencers and wannabes flock to this monument in droves during dawn (* we will get back to its reason, so read on).

If I guess right, surfing through the Insta posts had another effect on you: pretty sure that you fell in love with Fisherman’s Bastion and its panorama.

The Bastion with its turrets that seem to be medieval at first sight, with its staircases and panorama balconies is a perfect backdrop.

What is the history of this monument? Why is it so decorative? With its fancy terraces, arcades and lots of windows, its structure makes it unfit for defensive purposes.

If you are interested, this post will answer these questions, and will also give you information about its opening hours and entrance fees.

But first, let start with its history to create the context.

So, Fisherman’s Bastion isn’t historic; this is what you know already.

But why was it built?

Did the city planners think to themselves that they should erect a monument that in a hundred years will attract thousands and thousands of tourists who will share their photographs taken with strange beeping-glowing devices?

Well, of course, not. But honestly, it is not that far from the truth.

The castle of Buda was founded by Hungarian kings in the 13th century, later in the 16th century it was conquered by the Turks, which was followed by its retake by the Austrians, then attacked by the Nazi and Russian troops in the 20th century. All in all, there were not many peaceful years in the history of the Buda Castle Hill.

During the sieges, the castle building, including its walls, were often destroyed and rebuilt.

The various sections of the walls were protected by the residents of the castle, too. The walls where the current Bastion stands were protected by the guild of fishermen, who lived under the walls between the river Danube and the Castle walls.

 

Fisherman's Bastion - what NOT to do

A change in the role of the castle walls

Understandably until the 19th century there were thick castle walls on the place of the current bastion.

By the end of the 19th century, Hungary was in peace for decades and was developing to a major European metropolis.

The Buda Castle Quarter officially lost its military function in 1874, so the Castle Hill was turned into a communal area.

The Fisherman’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 and it was one of the developments that were to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state.

The bastion was built to provide a panorama terrace for the locals where they can hang around. It was intentionally made to be this fairy tale-ish. It was intended to feel like history, not be history.

Unfortunately, during WW2 the Fisherman’s Bastion was seriously damaged, but it was soon restored.

During the Communist decades, a huge Soviet red star hung on the walls of the Bastion to humiliate and remind people of Budapest that they rule us.

The architecture of Fisherman’s Bastion

The architect of the Halaszbastya (as we call the bastion in Hungarian) was Frigyes Schulek, who also restored and redesigned the Matthias Church.

The wide stairs leading up to the Fishermen’s Bastion gives a dramatic entrance to the Castle Hill.

The grand staircase of Fisherman's Bastion photographed from it bottom

Today, most of the visitors arrive to the Bastion from the direction of Matthias Church but I recommend walking down these stairs to get a great view of the Bastion.

The stairway features further historical statues such as the Statue of John Hunyadi and the statue of St George Piercing the Dragon. 

There are also 10th-century soldiers guarding the gate of the Bastion at the top of the stairs.

The 7 towers of the Halaszbastya features the 7 Hungarian leaders who had led their tribes to the present day Hungary to settle down in 895, as they saw that the Carpatian Basin a cool place.

During the construction of the Fisherman Bastion, a medieval Chapel was found and a part of it was incorporated into the Bastion. This chapel (St Michael Chapel) can be visited, a sometimes there are exhibitions in its inside.

Currently, you can enjoy one of the best panoramic views of Budapest from its terraces, just sit on its benches, or hide in its arcades when it rains, snows or when it is burning hot during summer.

Parliament building from Fisherman's Bastion

(Unfortunately, some part of the arcade is occupied by a restaurant during summer.)

Coffee with a view

Fisherman’s Bastion opening hours

If you can’t wait to visit the Bastion, it is good to know a few things before arriving.

So, if you did what I told you at the beginning of the post, you have already seen a couple of dreamy images of the Bastion. Maybe you want to recreate some or at least take some great pictures by yourself.

Here is my warning! Actually, the Bastion and its surroundings look like this or worse:

Tourists in front of Fisherman's Bastion

How is this possible? Well, it is one of the most visited attractions of Budapest, located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Castle District. Of course, it is almost always crowded with tourist.

How could I make photos without tourist? Do I have incredible Photoshop skills? Well, I wish I had. But no.

My secret: I went early. I took my photos before 8 am – during a very cold, winter day! And honestly, I had to literally run between the arcades to complete my photo series as the first tourist group was already right on the corner. As I snapped the photos, a couple of tourists were already there, right in my frame in a matter of seconds.

So I run up to the upper terrace and quickly took pictures there. By the time I got from one part of the terrace to the other and turned back, half of the terrace was already full of people. 😊 

So this is the reason why instagramers visit the Bastion during the very early morning.

Honestly, if you really want to take great shots, the best time to be there during summer is between 5 – 6 am. The sun rises at 5 am, so this way you have a chance to take photos during sunrise which is extraordinary from here since the sun comes up from the direction of the Pest side. This is how those yellow-orange-pink pictures are made. Or, with Photoshop and/or Lightroom but they really are too manipulated for my taste most of the times.

So, the opening times:

from the 16th of March to 30th of April: 9 am – 7 pm

from 1st of May to the 15th of October: 9 am – 8 pm

But bear in mind that you can visit the Fisherman’s Bastion any time! These are just those timeframes when you need to pay for a ticket to visit the upper terrace. If you go any other times, it is completely free (and it is much less crowded).

If you can not get up early, but would like to take photos without the mass of people, go there later! Visit it at sunset (around 8-9 pm summer time).  This way you will be able to see not only the sunset but also the illuminated sight of the whole Pest underneath.

You don’t need to worry, the area is completely safe. If you are in the mood, you can visit it during the night, without any problems.

How much is the entrance fee?

If you can’t or do not want to visit the Bastion during off-hours, the ticket for the upper terrace costs 1000 HUF (about 3.4 USD) for adults.

How to get to Fisherman’s Bastion

  • use the metro: get off at Batthány Square and zigzag up the hill or get off at Széll Kálmán Square and walk up in 15-20 minutes
  • take Bus no 16 from downtown Pest and get off at Dísz Square
  • stroll through Chain Bridge and use the Funicular or the stairs to climb up the hill

Attractions near Fisherman’s Bastion

So, as I mentioned before, the Bastion is situated in the Castle District that is full of history and attractions.

Right next to the Bastion stands Matthias Church.

Hopital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum is just a few minutes walk from here, while Ruswurm confectionery is just about 120 m away.

Right between the Bastion and Matthias Church stands the statue of King Stephen I, the first king of Hungary (1000-1038), who introduced Christianity to Hungary.

Equestrian Statue of St Stephen

The pedestal features episodes of his life:

his coronation, lawmaking, church building efforts, the homage of Vienna.

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Guide to Fisherman's Bastion

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