A crypt beneath a museum

Not many people know, not even the locals, that while visiting the Hungarian National Gallery, one can also take a tour of the Palatinal Crypt. Access to the Crypt is through the main entrance hall of the museum. It is one of the extremely few parts of the former Royal Palace (the foundations of which date back to medieval times) that survived through time. The palace was rebuilt and extended several times between the XVth and the XXth century, but today it can only show its ancient magnificence through the exterior design which was reconstructed after the war; however, the interior – housing the National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National  Széchényi Library – preserves only very little of the historical building.

The Palatinal Crypt was the burial-place of the Habsburg palatines (viceroys), who governed Hungary from the late XVIIth century till 1848 (during this period the Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Habsburg Monarchy). It is worth visiting even for those who are not familiar with the history of Hungary or that of the Habsburg dynasty, because the three vaults of the crypt exhibit valuable works of art. The ceiling is decorated with frescoes depicting the starry sky and angels in the corners and the statues and sarcophagi of those buried here are indeed splendid masterpieces of Hungarian art.