The History of Buda Castle after 1686

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The Heyday of Religious Life

The representation of franciscans on an 18th century wall picture in the church of St Francis's wounds in Buda (Víziváros), Batthány squareIn the Middle Ages there were numerous religious buildings in Buda. During the Turkish occupation they became either Islamic mosques or djamis, or they were used for profane purposes. After the reoccupation of the town the various religious orders started to compete for these buildings and estates.

In the religious life of the town - until its dissolution in 1773 - the Jesuit order had the greatest influence. Their activities included converting people of different faiths, the founding of "pious associations" and the organization of various religious events. Among these the most spectacular ones were the processions. Besides the usual four annual processions of the Catholic Church a further nine were introduced, in which - apart from the religious and secular dignitaries of the town - the guilds marched corporately under their own flags. A very special procession was that of the 2nd of September, which was held in the honour of the reoccupation of Buda. During this they commemorated the liberators together with the people of Pest. Until the dissolution of the order, the privilege of teaching was the exclusive right of the Jesuits in Buda.

Franz Weiss: The Franciscan convent, then the building of the Council of the Royal Governor in the Castle - coloured lithographyThe Franciscans, who were driven out of the Church of Our Lady by the Jesuits, received the Church of Mary Magdalene at the end of Úri utca. They continued to build their convents on the neighbouring estates for nearly half a century. The Carmelites settling in the town was similarly slow. In 1693 they received the Church of Szent János near Szent György tér, which had been abandoned by the Jesuits. The Convent of Szent János was finished only in 1734.

The Clarissan Order of Sisters was the fourth to establish itself in the castle. They had a huge landed property. In 1714 eight sisters moved into the rented building from Pozsony. As they did not find any free estates, they bought their property between Úri utca and Országház utca, where they built their church and convent. The latter was completed when Joseph II dissolved the order.


The building of the former Carmelite convent, and that of the Várszínház, 1787In the 18th century the presence of religious orders endowed the castle with a religious character in regard to both its dwellers and the townscape. This faded in the time of enlightened absolute monarchy, especially after Joseph II's measures concerning religious policy. The Jesuit order - which was the most active in organising religious life and ran the most schools in the castle - was dissolved during the reign of Maria Theresa, in 1773. The other orders in the castle were only able to survive the Jesuits by a decade, since Joseph II dissolved all the religious orders in his country, except for those that dealt with education and nursing. Between 1782 and 1786 the orders in Buda shared the same fate. Their buildings were given over to the government offices that moved here from Bratislava. Out of the four churches only two - the Church of Our Lady and the Church of Mary Magdalene - were allowed to retain their original function. The church of the Carmelite order became a theatre (Várszínház) and their convent was turned into a casino, which wans't a place for gambling but rather a social club. The spire of the church of the Clarissans was demolished, and the interior was divided into levels for offices.
A minor change in the Catholic character of the castle came about in 1844 when the Lutheran congregation of Buda was formed. The Protestants first appeared when government offices were moved to the castle and Joseph II issued his Patent of Toleration, but Palatine Joseph's Protestant wives also played an important role in the strengthening of their positions. The first small Lutheran church was built in Szent György tér as Maria-Dorothy's "home chapel", which was replaced by the Lutheran church at Bécsi kapu tér at the end of the 19th century.

Procession of St Stephen's day at the Millennium