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Bory Castle – A Perfect Day Trip from Budapest (2024 Guide)!

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One of Hungary’s hidden gems has to be the magical Bory Castle locally known as Bory-Var.

It looks like it’s been plucked from the pages of a fairytale with its turret towers, a myriad of statues and vibrant artwork. 

The fortress tells stories of legendary heroes, timeless romances and the dynasties of the kings.

This castle was a passion project by sculptor Jenő Bory that took him decades to create by hand with his students. Today, it’s open as a tourist attraction.

You can easily visit this incredible place on a day trip from Budapest as it’s just an hour away by train. 

Here is a detailed guide to the fairytale Bory Castle, one of Hungary’s best-kept secrets. 

Bory Castle Bory Var Hungary

Bory Castle history

The story of Bory Castle started in 1912 when Jenő Bory bought two acres of land in the Maria Valley near Székesfehérvár.

Bory was an architect, sculptor and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts at the Technical University in Budapest. 

He started building a home there where we could spend summers with his family. However, as Bory was a sculptor, he couldn’t help but build his residence like he would a statue.

The artist in him couldn’t help expanding his passion project. Eventually, he decided to make his very own castle using quartz concrete in the spirit of “The Stones Speak”.

Bory Var Hungary

Bory started the work in 1923 with the help of his students, masons and close friends. He spent his life working on it until he died in 1959. 

Every detail was inspired by legends, folktales, mythology and history. He dedicated much of his artwork to his wife, Ilona Komócsin, who painted as well and whom he loved very much.

In the end, he had built a castle from a fairytale. It had a dungeon, seven towers, thirty rooms, several workshops, formal gardens and hundreds of sculpted statues. 

Bory Castle Hungary

Visit one of Hungary’s hidden gems

Today Bory-Var is known as the  “Castle of Heroes” and is open to the public as a tourist attraction.

It’s one of only two self-built castles in Hungary and features many of Bory’s statues, formal gardens and artwork in his studios. As well as creations from his family.

The place is still managed by Bory’s descendants and they help to maintain his legacy for everyone to enjoy. They also add modern artwork to the site as well.

Although most people are familiar with Buda Castle in Budapest. I would definitely make a visit to Bory-Var if you have the time. 

It ended up being a highlight of my visit to Hungary and I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again. 

Bory Castle Hungary
Bory Castle Hungary

Can you visit Bory Castle from Budapest?

YES, you can easily visit Bory Castle from Budapest. In fact, it makes the perfect day trip if you have a bit of extra time. 

It’s only a 45-minute train ride to Székesfehérvár from Budapest and then a quick bus ride from the station to Bory-Var.

Székesfehérvár is also known as the City of Queens. I wasn’t sure what to expect on my visit but I was really impressed.

There are lots of colourful buildings, historic museums, a great café scene and even a clock tower that has a daily show!

Bory Var Hungary

Things to do in Bory Castle

If you’re an art, history or architecture lover then you could spend hours wandering around this fairytale castle. I think I spent around 3 hours in total as this place is like a labyrinth.

There is so much to see including several gardens, hundreds of statues, art studios, towers to climb and balconies to enjoy panoramic views.

It was raining on the day I visited, so there weren’t many people there at all. I pretty much had the castle to myself. I didn’t mind and I felt quite lucky!

Here are all the things to do in Bory Castle on your visit. 

Bory Castle Hungary

1. Bory Castle courtyard

As soon as you enter the complex, you’ll be facing the front facade of Bory-Var which is utterly breathtaking. 

The castle has many different elements of architectural design as it was expanded over many years with no set plan. 

The central courtyard makes a great impression with its terraces, towers, artwork and statues that welcome you inside to explore. It looks like a fairytale fortress.

Bory Castle Hungary
Bory Castle day trip from Budapest

2. Rose Garden & Elephant Garden 

The Rose Garden can be found behind the front courtyard and has several terraces, statues, mosaics and features.

You’ll find original stone tombs from the Turkish occupation, a statue of Bory’s wife that he sculpted as well as busts of his friends in amongst the colourful rose bushes. 

The Elephant Garden is named after the gorgeous statue of an elephant balancing on a ball in an arcade of archways.

You can see beautiful paintings here and the four panels represent four periods of architectural history; Greco-Roman, Christianity, Feudalism and Socialism. 

Bory Castle Elephant Garden
Bory Castle Elephant Garden

3. Hundred pillared courtyard 

As you make your way around, you’ll enter the French formal garden known as the Hundred Pillared Courtyard.

This is a large green space which is lined with several arcades filled with statues.

It’s named after the 103 concrete pillars that were all sculpted by Jenő Bory himself.

Bory Castle Hundred Pillar Courtyard
Bory Castle Hundred Pillar Courtyard

In the middle, you’ll find a fountain with a frog spouting water and several stepping stones. This is an ideal place to take a rest before you look at the statues. 

You’ll also find the residential tower here that symbolises Bory’s family. The smallest dome is for his youngest son György and the two towers represent his twin daughters Ilona and Klàra. 

Residential Tower bory

You’ll also see two taller towers for Bory and his wife. There is a rooster on top of one tower to represent Ilona as Bory believed that “ladies always turn where the wind blows”. 

Top Tip: Look for the huge rusty sword that dangles by a chain in between the two tall towers! It’s made of concrete and symbolises ius gladii or the “right of the sword”.

Hundred Pillared Courtyard Bory Var
Bory Castle Sword

4. Statues in the historic arcades

As Bory was a passionate sculptor, you’ll find many of his statues in the historic arcades.

All of these statues are made of quartz concrete and represent legendary characters and kings of old such as the Birth of the Huszar.

Bory Castle Statues

In the collection, you’ll also find historical characters such as Gellert the martyr, Prince Imre, Mór, István, Queen Izabella, Mátyás and the Anjou kings. 

I loved the statues of the Kings of Hungary and the Arpad dynasty that you could find on the upper floors heading towards the pointed tower!

Bory Castle Pointed Tower

5. Pointed Tower 

The pointed tower is the tallest tower of Bory-Var which is 30 metres high. But, it’s well worth exploring the inside.

As you ascend the spiral steps, you’ll find many small rooms that you can explore on your way up to the top.

Look out for the stained glass windows that have the dates 1905 and 1907. 

Bory Castle Pointed Tower

1905 is the year the couple first met and 1907 is their marriage date! How sweet. If he wanted to he would ladies. 

There are balconies to explore and little alcoves to sneak into until you reach the very top for a panoramic view. 

The guardroom in the Pointed Tower is particularly interesting where you’ll see a torso of Saint Sebastian and copies of Ecco Homo’s artwork.

Bory Castle Guardroom

6. Flag tower & spiral staircase 

The Pointed tower may be the tallest here but I found the Flag Tower to be much more impressive. This is mainly due to its incredible winding staircase! 

This spiral staircase is a work of art and architectural genius. Capturing it is a delight from anywhere you stand.

Bory Castle Staircase

The staircase was built by Jenő Bory but the decoration was painted by his daughter Klara Bory who studied painting. 

Another highlight would be the Vagyóczky Room with its gorgeous rose-stained glass window. It was named after one of his students who helped Bory build the castle.

Today, it’s a museum and there’s a small video you can watch with an insight into Bory’s life. It was all in Hungarian with no English subtitles but I got the gist! 

Bory Castle Flag Tower
Bory Var Rose Window

7. Climb to the towers for amazing views!

One of the cool things about Bory Castle is that you can climb to the very tops of the Flag Tower and Pointed Tower.

You’ll see statues guarding the castle and overlooking the valley. On a clear day, you can see all over the Maria Valley, towards Székesfehérvár and the Bakony Mountains.

The only thing that freaked me out was that the barriers were quite low and it was raining so the floor was quite slippery. Mind your footing.

Bory Castle Tower views
Bory Castle Tower views

8. The Chapel of Marital Love

At the back of the Hundred Pillared courtyard, you’ll find the Chapel of Marital Love. This is a symbol of Bory’s timeless love for his wife. 

Bory modelled the central statue on Ilona and added two compositions of The Kiss by Klimt on either side of her. 

If you look above the statue you’ll find several muses like the Mona Lisa. You may feel that they look yellow and almost jealous. That was entirely intentional. 

They are shown as yellow with envy because they are not loved as deeply as his wife.

Chapel of Marital Love Bory Var

9. Visit the art studios

As well as exploring the magnificent architecture and Bory’s skill with quartz concrete, there are four art studios you can visit as well.

These studios have many antiques, sculptures and works of art that were created by Bory and his wife. 

Bory Castle Art studio

You can explore the Atelier, Fireplace Room, Radio Room and Yellow Room. All of them provide a unique insight into the creative minds behind this magical place.

These studios can be easy to miss. I almost didn’t see the entrance in the labyrinth of doors and towers. So, make sure to follow the map!

Bory Castle Yellow Room
Bory Castle Studios

Is Bory Castle worth visiting?

I think it’s pretty obvious by now but I’m going to say yes, Bory Castle is well worth a visit in Hungary.

It’s a fairytale castle that’s filled with unique architecture, stunning artwork, intriguing statues and so much more. 

It makes a perfect day out from Budapest as it’s only around an hour away from the city by train and bus. 

I could have spent hours climbing these towers and exploring all the magical details found around the site. I’m sure I still have many to find.

Don’t skip a visit to Bory Castle! It’s one of Hungary’s hidden gems and you should visit now before it gets too popular. 

Bory Castle day trip from Budapest

How to get to Bory Castle from Budapest

If you are travelling to Bory Castle from Budapest then you can take one of the direct trains heading to Székesfehérvár from Budapest-Déli Station.

The journey will take you around 45 minutes (make sure to book the fast train) and it’s really easy to book tickets on the official Mavcsoport website

My tickets were also really cheap and only cost me 1300 HUF one way which was around £3 or $3.60.

Although my train was meant to be 45 minutes it turned into a 2-hours as our train hit something on the track and we all had to switch trains halfway through. 

As in, all the passengers had to get out of the one train and be escorted to a new train on the train tracks in the middle of nowhere. But, I digress. 

Bory Castle bus from Székesfehérvár.

Once you alight at Székesfehérvár station, you can catch the number 32 bus right outside the train station heading to Bory-Var. You can also take the 31 or 26A bus.

Your ticket will cost you 100 HUF one way. Make sure to have coins with you as the buses don’t take cards. There are machines to buy tickets at the station but, again, you’ll need coins. 

It’s then only a 20-minute journey to the castle! The bus drops you off a 2-minute walk away. 

Székesfehérvár.

Bory Var opening times and ticket prices 

Bory Castle is open all year and the castle usually is open from 9 am. But, the closing times change throughout the year. 

It’s typically open from 9 am – 5 pm in the summer months and then 9 am – 4 pm in the shoulder seasons. In winter, it can close as early as 3 pm. So check opening times before you go.

I would get here for opening time as you can then explore this incredible castle without the crowds. 

Ticket prices are 3000 HUF (£6.60 / $8.40) for an adult and 2000 HUF for students, companions and pensioners. Under 6-year-olds go free. 

Székesfehérvár Bory Castle

How much time do you need for Bory Castle?

I would set aside 2-4 hours for your visit as there is so much to see here, especially for art and history lovers.

It’s like a maze of towers, studios, artworks, museums and gardens and you don’t want to rush your visit.

Looking back, I took so many photos here! Every corner was like a painting and it felt like a fairytale castle.

Even though it was raining on my visit, I still had an amazing time and the colours from the gardens were still vibrant. 

Bory Var Székesfehérvár.

My top tips for Bory Castle

  • Make sure to have cash – travel around Székesfehérvár isn’t quite a contactless payment level yet. Cash is still very much king in parts of Hungary. 
  • Don’t miss the last bus back – the buses are not as frequent as in the city centre. So check the timetable when you get here so you don’t miss the bus back. There are local taxis you can call if you’re stuck, there are no taxi apps here (yet).
  • Bring lunch – there was meant to be a café open it wasn’t on my visit as it’s seasonal. Bring some food as there’s very little around the castle being on the outskirts. 
  • Visit for opening time – although this is a bit of a hidden gem it still gets really busy in summer. Visit early to avoid the crowds. 
Bory Castle

Looking for more things to do in Székesfehérvár?

Székesfehérvár is also known as the City of Queens in Hungary and it makes a great day trip from Budapest if you want to see more of the country. 

I felt like I had travelled back in time exploring the quaint cobbled streets and historic buildings. 

You can wander around the Varoshaz Square to see the majority of monuments and museums including St Stephen’s Basilica. There’s also a medieval ruin garden to explore. 

Don’t miss some of the famous statues dotted around like Aunt Kati. She was a famous vegetable seller and could often be found strolling the street of the city with her hand-wheeled cart.

When she passed away, the city adored her so much that they immortalised her as a bronze statue. 

Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum Székesfehérvár

There are lots of cafés found here and I would recommend Cafe Frei which serves up coffee and snacks from all over the world. 

I really enjoyed my visit to the Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum (Farmamuseum De Zwarte Arend). 

This pharmacy was established in 1688 and has many vintage medicinal cabinets and jars filled with quirky things like mummified remains. Nice. 

Don’t miss the Óramuzeum Clock Tower either! It’s a colourful clock that chimes every hour and puts on a show for the crowd. 

Óramuzeum Clock Tower Székesfehérvár

Read more of my Hungary travel guides

Fisherman’s Bastion – a complete guide 

Parisi Passage – A hidden gem arcade in Budapest

How to visit the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library

A review of the New York Café Budapest 

My ultimate Budapest Bucket List 

Save this Bory Castle day trip from Budapest for later

Bory Castle Day Trip from Budapest Hungary