Fisherman’s Bastion

The Fisherman’s Bastion is the favourite attraction of locals and tourists alike when it comes to seeing the Budapest panorama, or to feel the romance of the city. On the other hand, to put it bluntly and shortly, the Fisherman’s Bastion in itself is less historical, and is more like a Disney castle fantasy, sort of a fairy tale Bastion, where you can take the best photos in Budapest – many of its balconies and cloisters are free of charge.

Fisherman's Bastion and the Matthias Church from Pest

Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church from Pest (photo by Flavio Spugna)

On top of the Castle Hill, close to, but not at the river Danube, so don’t get misled by the name. At night, there is a special flood light around the Fisherman’s Bastion making the sight even more dramatic.

No wonder Frommer’s travel guide picked it as one of the best places to enjoy the sunset from in Budapest, Hungary.

The Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya) is probably the best place to go to if you want to see the nicest UNESCO World Heritage site in Hungary, namely the river Danube with its promenade, views, the (Szechenyi) Chain Bridge, the Hungarian Parliament, the Castle Hill, the Gresham Palace, etc. all in one fascinating romantic panoramic view.

The breathtaking beauty makes you realize why Budapest is often mentioned as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’.

The view from the Fisherman’s Bastion is indeed like a miniature jewel box: slim towers and turrets, elegant 19th century mansions, ships cruising the Danube, the gentle slopes of the Castle Hill, the fresh green of the Margaret Island, and more. Its grandeur is touching and intimate.

Cloisters in the Fisherman's Bastion (photo by J. A. Alcaide)

Cloisters in the Fisherman’s Bastion (photo by J. A. Alcaide)

The Fisherman’s Bastion was built from 1895 to 1902 (so it is indisputably older than the Walt Disney logo). It was built around the neo-gothic Matthias Church, one of the oldest churches in Budapest, and, as the name suggests, Fisherman’s Bastion used to function as the protective walls manned by the fishermen of Buda. Or did it? Unfortunately, it didn’t.

While it sounds good, it was never a real historic bastion, especially not in its current form. But Frigyes Schulek, the architect who basically renovated and re-designed not only the Fisherman’s Bastion, but the whole complex, including the Matthias Church, the statue of St Stephen King of Hungary, etc. thought it would be a nice addition to have an impressive entrance to the medieval Castle district, and an outstanding place to enjoy the spectacular view of the nicest sights in Budapest from.

Opening Times of Fisherman’s Bastion

open day and night, 24/7 (basically, Halaszbastya is like a public monument, you can come and go as you wish)

Tickets & Prices Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest at night

Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest at Night – Christopher Schoenbohm Photography

Admission fee: free to walk around the ramparts and cloisters. There is a slightly elevated tower if you want to get even higher (not needed for a better panoramic view to be honest), and there is a small charge for entering the lookout tower through turnstiles (about 1.6 euro). “Our sources tell us that should you happen to arrive outside of open hours (i.e., when the ticket office is closed), chances are no one will mind if you step over the modest barrier and wander around for free. Don’t say we told you so!” (Fodor’s travel guide)

How to Get to Fisherman’s Bastion

Getting there: Varbusz (castle shuttle bus) from Szell Kalman square (metro station on red line), bus 16A from Szell Kalman square, or bus 16 from Deak square. For a short fun ride (a bit expensive though) you can go up (or down) in the funicular railway from Clark Adam square to the Castle Hill. Alternatively, if you like walking, you can get off at Szell Kalman square metro station and take a 15-25 minute walk up to the Castle district. Just follow the towers.

History of the Fisherman’s Bastion / Halaszbastya

Halaszbastya was built in neo-Romanesque style at the end of the 19th century, in the heydays of the millennial urban redesign of Budapest, around the same time when the Heroes’ Square, the Vajdahunyad Castle etc. were built to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state. Most of the top places to see in Budapest today are the fruits of the Millennial projects. The works started in 1895, just 1 year before the millennium, and finished in 1902.

St Stephen's Statue at the Fisherman's Bastion, Castle Hill, Budapest

St Stephen’s Statue at the Fisherman’s Bastion, Castle Hill, Budapest- Lyn Gateley Photography

If you count the towers of Halaszbastya, it will add up to 7. The seven towers of the Fisherman’s Bastion represent the seven Magyar tribes led by Arpad that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 895.

As mentioned above, there was no medieval bastion that would have been restored, but there was a simple stretch of the Castle Hill walls that was in fact protected by the guild of the fishermen on the Buda side of Budapest (Buda and Pest – and Obuda – only united in 1873). Hence the name.

There was a little gate in the wall, where the fishermen could come and go to the Buda fish market. The district of Budapest right under the bastion and next to the river Danube is still called Watertown (Vizivaros).

Until 1874 the walls on the Castle hill were resembling more of fortifications. However, the city council decided to change the design at the end of the 19th century, and there were many plans how the walls should be re-interpreted.

Fisherman's Bastion - Halaszbastya Budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion – Halaszbastya Budapest – Marciofleury Photography

Schulek’s neo-Romanesque design was the winner, which broke through the walls of the former defensible and military  fortification to turn the place into a lookout terrace with an impressive series of white cloisters, white cupolas, white ramparts, white stone steps, all white white and white fairy tale like towers.

Budapest Attractions nearby (on the Castle Hill):

  • Matthias Church (aka the Church of Our Lady) coronation cathedral
  • St Stephen’s Statue by the Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Buda Castle Royal Palace, Budapest
  • National Gallery, Hungary
  • Funicular Railway Budapest
  • Faust Wine Cellar located in the Hotel Hilton Castle District
  • Hospital in the Rock (undergound nuclear shelter and emergency cave hospital)
  • Budapest History Museum, and its castle gardens
  • Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum, Alchemy Sets, etc.
  • Jewish Prayer House
  • St Michael Chapel in the Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Matthias Fountain on the courts of the Buda Castle
  • Lots of Statues and Monuments on the grounds, courts and terraces of the Royal Palace and all over the Buda Castle Hill: Holy Trinity Statue, Andras Hadik Statue (hussar statue with “lucky balls”), Hussar Cleaning his Sword statue, the equestrian statue of Eugene of Savoya, the Hungarian Wrangler with his horse, the Fishing Boy statue, etc.
  • Hungarian National Library (Szechenyi Konyvtar) and its temporary exhibitions
  • Labyrinth under the Castle Hill (note: it is not the same fun labyrinth that became popular, so we do not recommend visiting the current maze)

Cafes near the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle Hill:

  • Cafe Ruszwurm, the 18th century historical confectionery and cafe within 3 min walk
  • Cafe Miro, a funky and colorful cafe within 5 min walk
  • Cafe CBA Shop, a budget cafe within the corner shop, grocery store on the upper floor (cheap snacks and drinks)

Restaurants near the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle Hill:

More Fisherman in Budapest, Hungary

Fish Soup in Hungary

Fisherman’s Soup (halaszle) is one of the top choices of tourists to try a traditional Hungarian dish in Budapest. Note: Hungarians either love or hate Hungarian fish soup, so do not be disappointed if you do not like what you get. It is a risky choice as the flavours of the fish feels slightly muddy, mixed with lots of paprika. Fisherman’s soup is made from river fish in Hungary, mostly carp caught from the river Danube or Tisza. If you order it to try it, you may want to split one bowl. Mostly eaten with hot paprika. There are two sorts of traditional fish soups in Hungary, one in Danube river style (Baja) and one in Tisza river style (Szeged).

Fish Restaurants in Budapest

If you want to try more fish dishes in Budapest, either visit the more traditional Bajai Halaszcsarda in Budapest (District XII, off the touristy places, in the Buda Hills on Svabhegy), or take a visit to the funky and youthful Halkakas Fish Restaurant, where fish dishes are nice, nice!

Last updated info about Fishermans Bastion Budapest: February 2013