Today we will travel to the Carpathian Basin, all the way to Hungary, where we will unravel the mystery surrounding another highly valuable monument, the Fisherman’s Bastion.
While the construction in itself is imposing and appears to be a grand fortification of Buda that used to protect the city, it should be mentioned from the start that this was definitely not the purpose of the bastion. Tourists have the opportunity to ascend on the high walls of the construction and admire the panoramic view of Budapest. For this precise reason, several towers have been added in the most recent years in order to give tourists the opportunity to appreciate Budapest in all its glory. But this should not be the reason for which you want to visit the bastion. Yes, it offers a mesmerizing image of the city, but you should also acknowledge the beauty of the construction itself.
The Fisherman’s Bastion was constructed at the turn of the 19th century (from 1895 until 1902) and it includes in its structure 7 turrets which symbolize the 7 Hungarian tribes that have put the basis of this country.
Its development was part of a sequence of events which were meant to mark the day when Hungary celebrated 1000 years since its foundation. So naturally it included elements relevant from that ancient time. For once, there were the 7 turrets mentioned previously, and their inclusion in the architectural design was actually a way to eulogize the communities which have settled in this region and thus instituted the present state. Another important element which emphasizes the historical past of that time is the Statue of St. Stephan, who was the first king of the newly emergent state.
The Fisherman’s Bastion was constructed as a terrace where each member of the community could come and enjoy the beautiful scenery. If we were to give this an extra thought, maybe the structure chosen was actually a statement of freedom and of a united community. We can easily follow this stream of thought and consider that different tribes with different ways of life have come together and have managed to live in harmony, thus forming a society. And this idea of unity is further enhanced after centuries by the bastion which was constructed as an open space where anyone can come.
The architect behind this project, Frigyes Schulek, has developed a neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style edifice. World War II took no mercy on the monument, the Bastion being severely damaged in these times of warfare. However, the restoration work did not take too much time to come into effect, – this time around, it was the son of Schulek who supervised the renovation. Time is unforgiving and by 1980s, the bastion was again on the verge of ruin. The smog lifting from the city was detrimental to the walls of the edifice which seemed to age and slowly die under the negative impacts of urbanization. Even the sculptures sprinkled all over the bastion felt the immense weight of time, especially since no one tended to them.
But the situation changed after the municipality took notice of the constant deterioration of the Bastion and restored it to the fullest. Nowadays, it seems that the edifice is quite new due to these renovations which have kept an important piece of history alive.
There is one aspect which we have failed to tackle so far: the name of the construction. Why does it bear the name Fisherman’s Bastion? Well, there is no trustworthy source which can give an accurate answer to this question. So far, we have come across three theories. The first says that it was named this way in order to bring homage to the fishermen who lived right below the walls of the bastion and who protected the edifice in times of perils. Another theory is that the name comes after the fishermen that lived near the Danube, in Watertown, while the third one suggests that the name was given after the fish market that existed in that time close by.