Visegrád is one of the smallest towns in Hungary, situated on the picturesque Danube Bend, yet it has an enormous amount of beauty and sight.
Perfect place for a good outing, it is also popular with medieval castle enthusiasts and is not a last resort either for those who want to relax. The proximity of the Danube and nature which is surrounding the city gives an atmosphere that is unmatched in the area.
The city, which is not far from Budapest, is popular not only with people living in the neighborhood but also the whole country. Indeed, this has always been the case: the name of the city is mentioned as early as 1009, but there were fortresses there during the Roman era too, and it used to be the residence of Hungarian kings in the Middle Ages.
Due to its favorable location, Visegrád has always played a key role in the life of the country. The earliest traces of man, however, date back to the New Stone Age, but we can even find artifacts here from the Bronze Age. However, Celts, Germans, Romans, and Avars also turned up here. Here, the Sibrik Hill was once the most important fortress of the Danube limes, which was erected during the time of the Great Constantine.
When we think of Visegrád, it is primarily the castle that comes to our mind. Only a few know that there was once a castle that was destroyed during the Tartar invasion. The known castle system was at the instance of Mary, wife of King Bela IV. The city became very important during the Anjouk when the construction of the royal palace on the city’s main street began. Soon after, it became the king’s main site.
The famous royal meeting can also be linked to Visegrád: in 1335 the Czech and Polish kings, the Moravian guard and the Saxon prince gathered together at the invitation of the Hungarian king. To commemorate the significant convention, the Visegrad Four meet to this day since, in every year.
However, as almost all the settlements in the country, Visegrad was not spared by the Turkish troops and it was almost completely destroyed. It had to wait for his next golden age until the 19th century when the Danube steamboat was launched and the potential of his tourist destinations was realized again.
Sights in Visegrád
The most visited point of the city is definitely the Citadel, which is located above Solomon’s Tower and can be reached with a pleasant -or for those who haven’t used to sports- less pleasant walk.
As I have already mentioned, the construction of the castle began by the wife of King Béla IV and expanded during the Anjouk era, and finally, the palace wings were completely renovated during King Matthias’s reign. If you are a little lazy, you can, of course, get close to the castle by car, but it can be an even bigger experience on foot or by bike. Of course, it takes time.
Of course, the iron tooth of the time, and the not-so-gracious history, left marks on the Castle. When we arrive at the summit, a building will be waiting for us in a non perfect state. However, the atmosphere of the castle will still be felt. The Citadel is home to several exhibitions about the Middle Ages, the castle and its history, so in the end, it won’t be difficult to imagine what life was like here once. Another important aspect that is worth climbing up to here is the view. We have an unparalleled panoramic view: we can see almost the entire Danube Bend and nearby towns.
Another unmissable sight is the Royal Palace, which was built during the reign of King Sigismund. It was a royal residence for a long time, and later on, it was still an important resting place among the kings. It was destroyed during the Turkish occupation and can be viewed as a museum since the 1934’s excavations.
Here, we can catch a glimpse of the palace chapel, as well as the magnificent palace garden: once upon a time, there were beautiful flowers and an orchard and a winding path. During the excavation of the garden, several plant remains were found. Thanks to the exhibition, we can get a true picture of the former building and life here. Here, we finally find out how a real king relaxed, what he and his people ate, and where they slept.
And while we are here, we shouldn’t miss out on the Palace House, which seeks to bring medieval Hungary closer to the visitor. From the middle of April in the Crafts Court, we can get acquainted with the crafts and trades of that time and even try ourselves as a blacksmith, ceramicist, or we can also learn the technique of paper-making.
The Solomon’s Tower, which is 10 minutes walk from the Royal Palace, is still part of the castle. Contrary to popular belief, nobody in the tower, especially King Solomon, was enslaved. Maybe it would be luckier to call it Lower Castle, but it’s more exciting, so let’s stay with the original name. The magnificent view is given from here too, and we can see the knight’s tournament or drum procession at almost any time of the year, but the tower is also a venue for many weddings.
Where to go in Visegrád
If Visegrád, than is a tour! Sights not to be missed, not too long small tours while you can really relax in nature.
With a short round tour of Visegrád, we can crown the sights: the Visegrád lookout, the Great Lightning (Nagy-Villám) and the Citadel. The trip is about 2.5 hours, if we exclude sightseeing, and is about 7 km long. We need to be prepared with hiking clothes and shoes.
Heading up on Calvary Hill, our first stop may be the Rock Chapel, which is overgrown with vegetation but has small white walls, so it’s a beautiful sight in many greenery. From here, a not-so-friendly cape starts up, which’s top – like the light at the end of the tunnel – the Citadel waiting for us. If we want to see it,- and why we wouldn’t want to, especially if we’ve come this far-, we need to be prepared for a longer staircase, but I guarantee it’s worth it.
Continuing our journey through a beautiful beech forest, we reach the highest point of the area and Visegrád, the Great Lightning, where we can enjoy the view from the top of the Zsitvay lookout tower. On the south side, there is even a bobsleigh track if we didn’t have enough excitement and in winter we can ski here too.
On the way back, we can touch Solomon’s Tower and the Royal Palace which is not far from here and we shouldn’t miss it. At a glance, or rather at a hike, we can see the main sights in Visegrád while we are still having a good time.
Very close to Visegrád, just a short ferry ride we can find Nagymaros, where we can take a nice stroll, or sit down for a delicious cake in the peaceful Édeske or eat a hake on the Danube. It can be a wonderful crowning for a trip in Visegrád.
Visegrád is one of the most popular spots on the Danube Bend and this is no accident. For what the kings have been observing for over a thousand years is the inimitable atmosphere of the wonderful environment, can be thanked for the forests, and the Danube.
When we come here, it seems like the time has always stopped a little. Although it is popular, it is not even crowded, so we can enjoy the wonders of nature as we explore the past of the city. Here we are sure that all residents are kind and helpful and we can’t sit down in the wrong place to have lunch or even to have a coffee. A real refuge in the Danube Bend.