The colossal Vajdahunyad Castle sits next to the boating lake amid the greenery of City Park (Városliget) and displays a joyous clash of Hungarian architectural styles. It was designed by Ignác Alpár to be a gigantic folly for the Hungarian millennium celebrations in 1896, but it was such a hit with the citizens of Budapest that it was granted a reprieve and its makeshift construction was rebuilt in stone.
Running the gamut of Romanesque to Renaissance architecture, the palace is gaily encrusted with towers, turrets, Gothic flying buttresses, portcullises, bridges and courtyards, happily borrowing features from other castles around Hungary and there are scores of neo-classical statues scattered in the grounds.
Today Budapest’s Agricultural Museum is housed among the marble stairs, ornate décor, stained glass and vast chandeliers of the palace interior. The eight permanent exhibitions include a terrifying collection of taxidermy and a vaulted gallery stuffed full of antlers. Other highlights are the informative exhibit on Hungarian wine production and the whistle-stop tour through Hungarian agriculture, but that comes to an abrupt halt in 1945 without addressing the effects of enforced Communist collectivization after WWII.
The castle courtyard is open 24 hours a day and is free to wander and admire the eclectic architecture. Church services are held on Sunday at 12 noon in the Romanesque Jak Chapel from April to September.
Opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Entrance tickets are discounted with the Budapest Card. Metro Line 1 to Széchenyi Fürdő.