The town of Visegrád is located on the no.11 main road, 43 km north of Budapest. It can be accessed by car or bus using this main road, or by boat on the Danube.
At MAHART boat station a scheduled boat service and pleasure boat service is operating. From Nagymaros direction the ferry connection provides the passanger and vehicle transport, which runs at least once an hour.
In the Visegrád area the earliest traces of a human presence lead us to the New Stone Age, and from the Bronze Age this area has been continuously populated. After the Celtics, the Romans settled here, and they built the castrum on the Sibrik Hill (north of the current town, close to the Danube) called the Pons Navatus at the beginning of the 4th century. Later the Slavic groups moved to the area, and they gave the name ’Visegrád’ to the castrum, which expression was later adopted by the Hungarians.
The first Latin language document mentioned the Visegrád fortress and its county in 1009. Bela IV built the current fortress system in the 1250s.
Charles Robert relocated his royal court from Temesvár to Visegrád in 1323. Visegrád became the centre of the country in 1323. The famous Royal Summit of Kings took place here in the autumn of 1335 (the location of the summit for the four Central-European kings). His descendant, Louis the Great temporary relocated his headquarters to Buda, but he continued the constructions.
In 1370 he was welcoming the delegation of the Polish Orders, who offered him the Polish crown. The current plan of the palace was established in the reign of King Sigismund. The next days of glory for Visegrád came under the reign of King Matthias, who erected magnificent buildings in the fortress and renovated the palace of King Sigismund and was residing in Visegrád until 1408.
During the Turkish times only destruction followed, the frequent fights completely destroyed the once flourishing town. After the expulsion of the Turkish (1686) the severely ruined fortress was doomed to destruction.
The excavation of the fortress and the restoration of the remnant parts started in 1870, and with various stoppages through out the years, it is still underway nowdays.
The Citadel is the widest-known element of the Visegrád fortress system (water fortress, lower fortress and upper fortress), as the building is erected on the top of the Castle Hill, which can be seen from the distance from every direction, and it is a popular destination for Visegrád excursions and hiking tours.
The irregular-shaped fortress can be accessed through the pentagon-shaped external eastern gate tower, which is located behind the car park.
Once we proceed, we enter the external castle courtyard, presenting a magnificent view, then we continue to the lower castle courtyard and through the strong southern gate tower we reach the inner castle courtyard. The inner castle’s lower courtyard served as the residency of the castle-guards.
The stone-rimmed well was also located here, which supplied plenty of water for the castle-guards. The triangle-shaped upper courtyard was hosting the most important buildings, such as the gothic palace on the west (beautifully carved door and window frames are exhibited); on the north the knights’ hall erected by Matthias nearly completely devastated, and the northern palace; on the east the eastern palace, the treasury of the queens and the chapel.
At the meeting point of the Eastern and Western side there was an old tower constructed (nowdays only the wall ends can be seen), where the royal jewels and the Holy Crown was guarded. In 1440 a real thriller took place here, when the mother of the tragic-fated King Laszlo V had the crown stolen for his son, which was later mortgaged together with the town of Sopron by his uncle, Frederic III German Emperor. King Matthias managed to regain the crown only in 1463, by paying an extraordinary 80 000 golden coins for it.
After that the crown was guarded in Visegrád again until 1529, when Sultan Sulejman conquered the fortress and sent the crown to Buda, to King John Szapolyai, who was the acknowledged king of country by the Sultan.
Visegrád cannot only be accessed through the no. 11 main road, but also through the Pilis Mountain, from the direction of Pilisszentlászló, where the winding road meanders through our beautiful forests.
If we arrive from the Budapest direction after leaving the Szentgyörgypuszta area, we are passing underneath the pretty arch of the Town gate and heading towards the MAHART boat station, where the pleasure boats are continuously arriving.
On the left side of the road the Renaissance Restaurant (inf.: tel.: 26/398-081 , fax: 26/397-820, e-mail: email@example.com) is located, renovated in renaissance style. The waiters and waitresses of the restaurant are dressed in costumes and serving on earthenware dishes the specialities, which are made according to the contemporary recipes.
Just right next door is the Castle Hotel, situated at the bottom part of the Solomon Tower (inf.: tel./fax: 26/397-522 397-572, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), which is offering 20 rooms with shower, a restaurant and a bar for its customers.
Continuing our journey on the main road, we pass the MOL petrol station and we reach the central car park of the town on the left side, from where we can take nice walks on the main street of the town, or if we stay on the main road we reach the ferry station.
The ferry station is located opposite the Rév Street, on the no. 11 main road (inf.: tel.: 26/398-344 , fax: 597-065) offering an hourly crossing to the neighbouring Nagymaros. It is also possible to take short or longer excursions on the Danube with pleasure boats accomodating 70 to 120 passangers. On the Danube embankment all along the town a grovy promenade was established offering great opportunities for relaxation and refreshment.
If we take the Rév Street towards the town two catering establishments invites us to stop. On the left side the popular Black Raven Restaurant and B&B (inf.: tel.:26/397-289 , fax: 398-158), and on the right side the Visegrád Hotel and Sea-gull Restaurant (inf.: tel.:26/398-160 , fax: 397-597, e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) with its modern, but still assimilating building to the landscape, it offers high standards and delicious dishes for its customers.
The Grill Garden is mainly a popular spot for the warm summer evenings, and the little shops of the Rév Street offer all sorts of souvenirs for the tourists.
At the crossing, on the corner the 17th century Roman Catholic Church in late Baroque style is located, next to it the beautiful sculpture of Saint Margaret of the House of Arpad is situated in a well-maintained park. After that we reach the exciting building of Don Vito Restaurant and Pizzeria (inf.: 26/397-230 , web: www.donvitovisegrad.hu), reminding us of the 1920-30s atmosphere. It offers colourful programs and excellent cuisine, which became famous very quickly in this area.
The next building is the Town Hall, which due to its recent reconstruction adapts very well to the street image. There are Information boards about the famous houses and former residents of the Main Street (Fő utca). The most famous building complex is the former royal palace, which buildings were erected in the reign of Charles Robert, Louis the Great, King Sigismund and King Matthias. From the splendid fountain of the Matthias Palace Gala Courtyard red and white wine was flowing out during the celebrations to the amazement and satisfaction of the guests.
During the Turkish times the palace got ruined and at the beginning of the 17th century the colonized German population used the stones of the palace for their constructions. After that nobody mentioned the palace, as if it would have been buried underground. Well, nearly this is what happened. The heavy rainfalls washed down the soil of the steep mountainside and completely covered the remnants. Though the archaeologists were looking for these in the 19th century, but only found them on New Year’s Eve 1934 by János Schulek architect (the son of Frigyes Schulek who built the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church). By the next year Schulek had the remnants of the chapel dug out. Ever since excavations have been taking place here. The surface of the built-in area was 600 m x 300 m (approx. one-third of this area has been excavated), and it was located on the hillside with 5 terraces.
The King Matthias Museum introducing the history of the palace is situated in the building next to the entrance of the garden (Fő u. 29.), which was built from the stones of the palace.
(Opening hours: V. 1–X. 31. Tu–Su 9–16.30, XI. 1–IV. 30. Tu–Su 8–15.30.)
Most famous things to see:
the original pieces of the red marble from the Hercules Well and its restored model, and the model of the Lion Well (the original one is located in the Solomon Tower).
If we continue our walk on the Main Street (Fő utca) we pass the house 5 Fő utca, where Artúr Görgey (1818–1916) the General of the 1848/49 revolution lived his last 30 years in complete seclusion, he also died in here. Located at the end of the street, on a small square is the bronze bust of King Matthias, the composition of János Fadrusz, which is a copy of one part of the famous Matthias Monument in Kolozsvár erected in 1903.
On the right side, if we take the Salamontorony Street we can reach the lower castle tower, which got its name ’the Solomon Tower’ after a false story about Solomon’s captivity, as Solomon was not kept in this tower, but on the Sibrik Hill. The 31 m high, five-storey tower with its 3,5-8 m thick walls was the country’s strongest construction. It served as the earliest part of the protection system to control the route crossing through its gates and continuing on the Danube embankment.
The five-stories were used as bedrooms, kitchens and storage areas (sometimes as prison). The building is currently a museum, where the most valuable findings from the palace are exhibited among others (e.g. the previously mentioned Lion Well).
If we walk back down the Salamontorony Street towards the embankment, and we continue our walk to the right, we can find a square-shaped tower remnant. This is the round bastion or water bastion. It was erected at the same time as the fortress system, representing its lowest part.
This was an observation point for the Danube’s traffic and with the help of hoisting apparatus they were sending water to the lower castle. The top of the multi-storey building was ruined; János Schulek created the current form of the lower part in the 1930s. On the steps of the round bastion the fortress builder King Bela IV’s statue, and on the iron banisters the arms of Arpad-, Anjou-, Luxembourg- and Hunyadi-families are exhibited.
The round bastion is connected with the lower castle and then to the upper castle through an outer wall built in the 13th century and it is still there today. The gate was cut in the wall around 1820, under which the road goes towards Budapest.
The old route was located in the Lower Castle, next to the Solomon Tower and crossing the northern tower gate built in the 13th century. Today this is the Panoráma Street northern part, and if we continue along approx. 300 m we get to the Sibrik Hill. If by the church we turn right (i.e. towards Esztergom direction) we can take a pleasant walk in the typical street of this small town. During our walk we can find two tourist agencies (the Bauer Reisen Travel Agency - Fő u. 46, tel: 26/397-127 www.bauerreisen.hu and then the Hungaro Reisen Travel and Hunting Organizer Agency – Fő u. 68. tel: 26/398-112 . www.hungaroreisen.hu) where the staff is more than happy to assist us, and it is also possible to purchase some souvenirs.
Next to the well-kept bed of the Apátkúti Brook on a small walkway we can also make our way to the Visegrád Mountain. We can find the Honti Hotel and B&B on the Main Street (inf.: tel.:26/398-120 , fax:26/397-274 e-mail: email@example.com), which is very popular among visitors with its quiet, romantic and pretty surroundings, pleasant rooms and delicious cuisine. The Caravan Camping is accessible from the no. 11 main road by the hotel’s entrance.
If we carry on straight from the church we reach the well-kept King Matthias Street. The Goulash Country Tavern (inf.:tel.-fax:26/398-329 ) attracts its customers with its geranium covered windows and garden. We may continue our walk next to a pleasant park with a fountain, or we decide to turn to the Széchenyi Street, where the Community Centre and Library is situated in the old mansion house.
The Library awaits people who would like to read or use the internet, and in the exhibition halls of the Community Centre temporary exhibitions are organized. If we carry on along King Matthias Street we pass the Pilisi Parkerdő Rt. central building and then we reach the crossing with a lay-by where two buildings are of special interest. The excellent Brook Inn (inf.: tel.:26/397-486 , fax: 26/397-102, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) is located in the bend towards the town, and across the little wooden bridge over the brook towards the forest we can see the friendly buildings of the Forest School.
If we carry on the path of the Forest School we may take pleasant forest walks and excursions. After the Devil’s Mill Waterfall and the Magda Spring we can reach the park located on the Telgárthy Meadow and the Miklós Bertényi Botanical Garden. If we turn left at the crossing we reach the Nagy-Villám (Big Lightning) facility. The SilvanusConference & Sport Hotel**** (inf.:tel.: 26/398-311 , 597-511, fax: 26/597-516, e-mail: email@example.com web: www.hotelsilvanus.hu) is located on the 325 m high Black Hill, offering 106 panoramic view rooms and a conference centre. Wellness- services, squash courts are providing full relaxation and recreation. For those interested in the gastronomy national and international specialities are offered.
The Nagy-villám Entertainment Centre offers various programs for those who are looking for an active relaxation: canopy-, bob-, mini golf- and during wintertime a ski slope is awaiting its customers. The Visitor Centre and tourist spot in Mogyoróhegy is very popular among those who prefer the fresh air and pleasant surroundings; also the Danube Bend Forest School and Jurta Campsite are popular.
Visegrád’s latest treasure is its thermal and mineral water, which are brought to the surface from 1400 m depth with the help of the wells of the Lepence Valley. This 39 °C thermal water supplies the swimming pool of Lepence, which was opened in 1977, where the Lepencei Brook reaches the Danube. From the terraced pools of the complex there is a beautiful view of the Danube Bend’s Dömös area.
The most beautiful and highest-level hotel of the Danube Bend, the Thermal Hotel Visegrád**** opened its gates in 2003. The thermal-, wellness- and conference hotel offers 174 rooms, an excellent restaurant and many entertainment activities, therapies, fitness, wellness and spa services to its visitors. (Info.: tel.: 26/ 801-900, fax: 26/801-914, web: www.thv.hu, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Visegrád: boat station, car ferry, post office, doctors, pharmacy, restaurant, hotel, B&B, campsite, yurt camp, hunting lodge Lepence: thermal pool