Visegrád is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary. It is north of Budapest on the right bank of the Danube in the Danube Bend. It had a population of 1,864 in 2010. Visegrád is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and the medieval citadel.
Visegrád was first mentioned in 1009 as a county town and the chief town of an archdeaconry. After the destructive Mongol invasion of Europe in 1242, the town was rebuilt in a slightly different location to the south. King Charles I of Hungary made Visegrád the royal seat of Hungary in 1325. At the same time, his diplomat Stephen Sáfár was appointed castellan.
In 1335, Charles hosted at Visegrád a two-month congress with the Bohemian king, John of Luxembourg, and the Polish king, Casimir III. It was crucial in creating a peace between the three kingdoms and securing an alliance between Poland and Hungary against Habsburg Austria. Another congress followed in 1338.
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary and Croatia in personal union with Hungary, moved the royal seat to Buda between 1405 and 1408. King Matthias Corvinus (1443–1490), King of Hungary, used Visegrád as a country residence.
Visegrád was granted town privileges again in 2000.
After the Mongol invasion, King Béla IV of Hungary and his wife had a new fortification system constructed in the 1240-50s near the one destroyed earlier. The first part of the new system was the Upper Castle on top of a high hill. The castle was laid out on a triangular ground plan and had three towers at its corners. In the 14th century, at the time of the Angevin kings of Hungary, the castle became a royal residence and was enlarged with a new curtain wall and palace buildings.
The Lower Castle is the part of the fortification system that connects the Upper Castle with the Danube. In its centre rises the Solomon Tower, a large, hexagonal residential tower dating from the 13th century. In the 14th century, new curtain walls were built around the tower. During a Turkish raid in 1544, the southern part of the tower collapsed. Its renovation began only in the 1870s and was finished in the 1960s.
The ruins of this military camp can be seen outside Visegrád, to the north, on a hill that overlooks the Danube. The camp has a triangular ground plan. It was built in the first half of the 4th century as one of the important fortifications along the limes, the frontier of the Roman Empire. Its praetorium (the commander’s building) was constructed at the end of the 4th century. In the early 5th century, the Roman army abandoned the military camp.