Bucket List: Fisherman's Bastion
Welcome back to the Bucket List section of our blog! This week we have the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest on our list in honor of our upcoming Oktoberfest trip. If you’ve never heard of the Bastion, that’s ok! Hopefully, this blog will make visiting Budapest and this unique site a priority for you in the near future.
As it is, Budapest is one of my FAVORITE cities and offers a real glimpse into some of Eastern Europe’s darkest history. While Budapest is centuries old (and I mean literally over a thousand years) walking the city streets really brings you back to a different way of life. From the communist-era, to the dark days of WW2, Budapest has slowly been coming out of its shell and being primed to be a burgeoning tourist town over the next 1-2 decades. Not to mention, they have a plethora of geothermal pools to wade in, as well as some ‘Spa parties’ that are not to be missed….I digress though (perhaps for another blog).
The Fisherman’s Bastion is on the BUDA side of Budapest, and if you are unfamiliar, Budapest was actually two different cities at one point. Buda, and you guessed it, Pest, were split by the Danube River and eventually conjoined together on the 17th of November, 1873, following 150 years of Ottoman Empire rule. Ironically, it was actually named Pest-Buda, but later changed to, ‘Budapest.’ Now, go on and hit your friends with a little bit of that knowledge….
Anyways, the Bastion. What you need to know….world famous for its spires and adjacent placing next to the Buda Castle, The Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most well-known attractions of the area and provides the most beautiful panorama of the city from the Buda side, into the Pest side. Overlooking the Danube river, it is the most quaint area for photos of the city and features a prominent placement next to St. Mattias Church, which is also world renowned.
According to its architectural style, the Fisherman’s Bastion in the Buda Castle may seem to be a very old building, but the truth is it was built on the turn of the century (finished in 1902), to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state (among a lot of other buildings across Budapest).
Not to be overdone, but you can get a PICTURE-PERFECT view of the Hungarian Parliament building (looks like something out of Star Wars) from the Bastion as well. You can see the building in the photo above. But, damn….these Eastern European’s love their spires, eh?
As it is, the Fisherman’s Bastion is open 24/7 and is free of charge, which makes it a prime attraction for tourists. You can also do a tour of the Buda Castle and St. Mattias Church as well, which are both 1-2 minutes away from the Bastion itself.
There are two ways to approach the Fisherman’s Bastion in the Buda Castle. The first is by the dedicated Buda Castle bus (free with Budapest Card) which will take you right up to Holy Trinity Square or by Funicular.
The other way is a bit sportier….and somewhat of a challenge, but you can walk up from the Danube river bank through hundreds of steps and finally be rewarded by the sights of the historical Fisherman’s Bastion and the beautiful scenery of Budapest. On our Oktoberfest tour, we will be doing the latter there and trekking upwards, but the views WILL be worth it.
Once you are up there at the Bastion, If you look to the left from the terraces of the Fisherman’s Bastion, you can see the Margaret Island behind the yellow Margaret Bridge. The next one is the Chain Bridge, a historical Classicist bridge spanning the river Danube in Budapest, which ends on the Pest side by the Four Seasons Hotel (Gresham Palace). Behind Gresham Palace, you can also see the top of the St Stephen’s Basilica.
Also, if you feel like getting after it and wanting to learn a bit of Hungarian, you can call the Fisherman’s Bastion by its real name of: Halaszbastya
Yea….I can’t pronounce that either.
Short History of The Bastion
Built between 1895 and 1902 to commemorate the 1000 years of the Hungarian State, the Bastion was inspired by the architectural style of the early medieval times (Neo-Roman). More over, the 7 towers of the Bastion feature the seven Hungarian Chieftans who had led their tribes to present day Hungary to settle here in the year 895 AD. The statue of St. Stephen, built in 1906, is to commemorate him as the first Hungarian King who ruled from 1000-1038 AD. In short, the Bastion itself is a historical monument for the millennial country of Hungary.
The Bastion was originally built as a viewing terrace with lookout towers on the base to help defend Buda Castle during the 17th and 18th century against potential invading armies. After Buda Castle was no longer considered to be a military place, a communal panorama terrace was assembled for viewing pleasures.
Soon after the Bastion was built, the adjacent St. Mattias Church was also renovated due to the its neglect over the years and steady maintenance and upkeep has been required. Bonus - if you go to the Bastion, make sure you peek your head inside St. Mattias Church!
Where did the name come from?
There is actually no recorded history of where the name came from, but the guess was that it was adopted from the nearby fishing ports along the Danube river. With Bastion simply meaning, ‘Fortification',’ legend has it that the Fishermen simply named it after themselves during the times of war because they would take refuge here, and the name eventually came on as commonplace.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of a kind. With the best views in Budapest, you simply cannot overlook this area. You should also visit the Church behind the Bastion itself, but with unobstructed views of St. Stephen’s Basilica, The Parliament Building, Buda Castle and more, you will remember this place for a long time to come. It’s quite an amazing spot to see at sunset, but truly, there is no bad time of day (or year) to go and visit the Bastion.
If you’ve been and have something to add, please let us know down below, but those of you going to the Oktoberfest trip coming up, have a blast and make the most of Budapest!
P.S. I cracked up watching the video down below….just skim through it, but he has some great info and context about the Bastion as well.