Following the Lyon funicular, which was built for public transport in 1862, the Buda Castle Funicular, then called the Buda Hill Railway, was handed over in 1870. It was the second similar means of transport in the world. Based on the Lyon example, Ödön Széchenyi initiated its construction in order to facilitate access to the ministries, offices, and the Castle Theatre, which were operating in the Castle district. The construction plan prepared by Ödön Juraszek was submitted in February 1868, and after Ödön Széchenyi received a 40-year concession to operate the funicular, the construction started in July 1868. At the lower end of the track, a large, imposing station was built, where the machinery was installed. According to the plan, the boarding platform could have been reached here in seven steps. For military reasons, the construction of an upper station building was not authorized by the authorities. Instead, a small pavilion was built with a reversing pulley. The two ascending and descending cars were permanently attached to the opposite ends of the haulage cable, which was looped over the pulley. Unloaded, the two cars were counterbalanced, and a 30-horsepower steam engine was used to move the cars and to overcome the excess passengers’ weight.
From January 1869, Henrik Wohlfarth took over the supervision of the construction, and partially modified the construction plans. There was not much opportunity for significant modifications as some of the construction work had already been completed and the machines ordered were almost ready. Wohlfarth decreased the slope of the track from 32.5-degrees to 30 degrees, which resulted in lifting the boarding level from 1.5 meters to 7.5 meters. As a consequence, passengers had to climb approximately 40 stairs instead of 7 stars. Thus, 15% of the 50m level difference between the stations still had to be done on foot. The steam engine and standard gauge (1435mm) railcars were manufactured in Vienna. The cars consisted of three staggered cabins, each with eight seats.
The traffic on the Buda Hill Railway started on March 2, 1870. At that time, the funicular was satisfying public transport needs and the new mode of transport soon became popular – in 1873, 1.5 million people and in 1943, 2.1 million people used the Buda Castle Funicular. Although its modification and electrification were planned several times, it operated essentially unchanged until 1944. In the Second World War, during the siege of Budapest, the funicular was damaged by a bomb, after which it was decided to dismantle it.
The restoration of the Funicular took place between 1984 and 1986. It was reconstructed at its original location, adapted to the monumental environment, its traditional appearance was retained, but in accordance with the technical requirements of the age. The drive of the funicular was electrified, and the machinery was installed at the upper terminal station. The boarding level of the lower terminal was sunk to the level of Clark Ádám square, so there is no need to climb stairs any longer. Passenger traffic on the funicular resumed on June 4, 1986, primarily for tourism purposes. The Buda Castle Funicular is one of the capital’s most popular attractions with its unique panorama over the Danube. The view of the Danube embankments and the Buda Castle District with the Funicular has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.