Interiors of Buda Castle - Central Wing

Central Wing

  • Diplomat's Staircase (Diplomata-lépcső) - The Baroque main staircase of the central (originally northern) wing gave access to the private apartments of Maria Theresa. In the 18th century there was an officer's dining room and a smaller kitchen on the ground floor and another dining room with a cafe kitchen on the first floor. The southern and northern (later central) wings had the same ground plan: all the rooms opened from a passageway running along the sides of a rectangular central court. The two monumental stairways were rebuilt by Hauszmann in Neo-Baroque style.
  • St. Sigismund Chapel or Castle Church (Szent Zsigmond-kápolna, Vártemplom) - The palace chapel in the western end of this wing had no façades, only a door opening onto Lions Court (through an antechamber). Its construction was finished in 1768 and the church was consecrated in 1769. The ground plan was drawn by Nicolaus Pacassi but the interior was designed by his follower, Franz Anton Hillebrandt. The ground plan followed a typical "violin" form, favoured in the Baroque church architecture of Central Europe that time. It had a rectangular chancel and a nave with four bays for side altars. On the first and the second floors two oratories opened into the chancel and a two-storey high gallery was situated above the entrance. In 1777-78 a new door was opened in the first side bay to give access to the new Chapel of the Holy Right. An engraving from 1771-80 shows the original interior design in its completed form: double pilasters, windows with segmental arches, stucco and false marble decoration, double oratory windows and an interesting doorway with a stucco veil drawn aside by flying putti. The church was slightly rebuilt by Hauszmann who demolished the Chapel of the Holy Right in 1899 and built a new chapel for the relic behind the chancel (converting a small recess). This chapel was decorated with the golden Venetian mosaics of Károly Lotz. A new Neo-Baroque main altar was built in the church in 1899. 20th century photos testify that the church survived in its Baroque form until the war. During the siege the vaults of the church partially collapsed and the furniture was plundered. The Castle Church was left decaying for more than a decade. In 1957 the remaining two vaults collapsed, and the church was totally destroyed and converted to exhibition spaces. The altar table was rescued and re-erected in Pilisvörösvár in 1957. The Lotz mosaics from the Chapel of the Holy Right were also rescued and re-assembled in Balatonalmádi.
  • Palatinal Crypt (Nádori kripta) - The Palatinal Crypt under the former palace chapel is now the only surviving room of the whole Royal Castle. The underground crypt was first used as a burial place between 1770–1777. In August 1820 Elisabeth Karoline, Palatine Joseph's infant daughter was buried in the crypt. Seventeen years later, the Palatine's 13-year-old son Alexander Leopold followed. This time Palatine Joseph decided to convert the crypt into a family mausoleum, and commissioned Franz Hüppmann with the task. The work was finished in 1838 and other members of the Palatine's family were reburied here. Palatine Joseph himself was interred on 13 January 1847. The crypt was continuously used by the Hungarian branch of the Habsburg family. It was repeatedly restored and enriched with new works of art, frescoes, statues and ornate stone sarcophagi, made by the best artists of the 19th century. The last member of the family buried here was Archduchess Klotild in 1927. The crypt survived the war unscathed and was spared during the post-war reconstruction. The crypt was robbed in 1966 and 1973 (during the construction works). Even the corpses were thrown out of the sarcophagi by the robbers. The human remains were later identified and reburied. The crypt was restored in 1985-1987. Since then the Palatinal Crypt is part of the exhibition of the Hungarian National Gallery.

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