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Buda Castle, left, on the skyline of Budapest, Hungary.

Buda Castle, left, on the skyline of Budapest, Hungary.

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg
CityLab
Culture

A Rogue Leader’s Plan for the Heart of Budapest

Viktor Orban is transforming Budapest’s most touristy district to create a government stronghold, and his political opponents don’t like it.

Above the Danube River bisecting Hungary’s capital is a classic vista of Central European grandeur: the Buda Castle palace, the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion, all bearing down on the city.

What now also dominate the skyline are half a dozen or so cranes that tower over the heart of Budapest in the city’s tourist-filled Castle District. On any given weekday, they are busily working to create a compound of government offices fit for the European Union’s longest-ruling leader — and one of the continent’s most divisive.