Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699


Buda castle

Now, let me restrict the history of Buda for the age of Ottoman rule.

The city was first pillaged by Sultan Suleiman in 1526, right after the Battle of Mohács. When he left for home, he took away the Jewish burghers to his empire because they were afraid of the Christians’ revenge.

Later, Buda became the most important western frontier castle of the Ottoman Empire.

The Pasha or Begler Bey of Buda had been the second-highest ranked person after the Sultan, usually after the Grand Vizier. He was in charge of the Elayet of Buda, and he was the first military commander and the first leader in the civil administration at the same time.

Besides, he was authorized to conduct the diplomatic negotiations with the Habsburg powers. In the absence of the Sultan or the Grand Vizier, the Pasha of Buda was the leader of the entire Turkish army in Occupied Hungary.

All the other Elayets belonged under his rule. The Pasha of Buda automatically received the rank of a Vizier from 1623 on.

The Ottomans were carefully building out a strong belt of castles around Buda (like Esztergom or Székesfehérvár) and established a chain of forts towards Vienna. In peaceful times, the garrison of Buda numbered two thousand soldiers, mostly Janissaries.

When the Turks finally seized the old royal city of Buda in 1541, they robbed the European famous library of King Matthias and systematically destroyed the frescoes and sculptures of the most beautiful gothic cathedral in the center.

There was a traveler who worked for the Fuggers, Hans Dernschwam, who described the poor conditions in 1555. He wrote of it as:

“The houses are collapsing one by one. There is no trace of new construction, except some shads where one could take shelter from rain and snow. There had been great halls and stalls that now are divided into hundreds of makeshift cells made of stone, wood, and clay.”

“The Turks don’t need wine-cellars so they had filled them with garbage. The houses look as they had no owner…they made a mosque from the Catholic church and threw the altar and the tombstones out . . . many rooms are walled in. The houses look like pigsties and they are so much built around that you couldn’t recognize the wagon-entrances because they fabricated stalls and a bazaar in front of the houses where the Turkish craftsmen sit and work according to their habits.”

The castle suffered many sieges, one of them caused major destruction in it in 1578. The local Jewish population was always fighting on the Ottoman side so as to defend their privileges. It led to a serious pogrom when Buda was retaken in 1686.

During the siege, the original palace of King Matthias was utterly destroyed by an explosion. The castle also suffered great damage during WWII.

Look at a video of the castle: you can see pictures how it had looked like before 1945. 

Unfortunately, they had pulled down several beautiful parts in the 1950s and 1960s which could have been saved. Now, the castle is being renovated again, amid great political scandals.

You can find 120 pictures in my FB albums here:

Here are a few of them, including black-and-white pictures taken before WWII:



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