Feature image for an article about the changing of the guard ceremony at Sandor Palace in Budapest.

Sandor Palace and the Changing of the Guard in Budapest

The elegant Sandor Palace has been the backdrop for pivotal events in Hungarian politics for more than 200 years. Today, it's the official residence of the Hungarian president, and is the place to see the changing of the guard in Budapest.
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Read More About Buda Castle District

Introduction to Sandor Palace Budapest

Sandor Palace has been an imposing presence in Budapest’s Castle District for more than 200 years.

Built between 1803 and 1806, it was originally meant as a private home to the aristocratic Sándor family. Commissioned and named after Count Vincent Sándor, it later passed to his son, Moric.

The Official Residence of Hungary’s President: Sandor Palace Today

In the long timeline of the Palace’s history, it’s stint as a private home was actually rather short. For most of its existence, it’s served as a key seat of Hungarian political power.

In January 2003, it became the office and official residence of Hungary’s President. Its legacy as a home and office to Hungary’s political leaders, however, goes much deeper.

Hungarian President Viktor Orban is the Palace’s current resident.

Besides Orban, the Palace’s most famous resident is Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Gyula Andrássy is the namesake of Andrássy Avenue in Budapest’s 6th District. It’s the city’s most well-known street, often called Budapest’s Champs-Élysées.

Sandor Palace, WWII to 1989

WWII marked a turning point for the palace. Showered in bombs by Allied planes, it was left in ruins and its interior pillaged. It spent the better part of four decades like this, from the end of the war until the fall of communism.

In 1989, the fall of Hungarian communism brought a new chance at life for Sándor Palace. The government began an extensive rebuild and restoration, which brought the Palace back to its former elegance.

Today, the simple elegance of the architecture stands in stark contrast to the adjacent Buda Castle.

Book Your Trip to Budapest

Save Money in Budapest

The Budapest Card includes free, unlimited public transportation for the duration of the card, and is available as a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-day card. In addition to free public transport, the card includes free entry to many museums, a complimentary tour, discounts throughout the city, and more. Click for prices and details.

Book Your Flight to Budapest

CheapOair is our current favorite when it comes to searching for flight deals. It’s a meta aggregator, and will find the best deals and routes for you by searching airline websites and other aggregators.

Book Your Budapest Hotel in Advance

We use Booking.com when making hotel reservations in Europe. In our experience, it has the best inventory/selection of hotels and holiday apartments, and we’ve had good experiences with their customer service team when things go wrong (which has been a rarity for us, thank goodness!). TripAdvisor is also trying to get into the hotel booking game, and may be worth checking out.

Skip the Line in Budapest

Budapest is getting busier by the year, meaning you should expect to wait in line at the most popular attractions, especially in high season. If you only have a short vacation, consider getting a Skip-the-Line ticket for the most popular attractions: The Great SynagogueSzéchenyi Thermal Baths, and the Parliament. If you want to visit the interior of the Parliament, you have to pre-book. You can either use an international tour aggregator like Get Your Guide or use the Hungarian website Jegymester.hu.

Book Your Budapest Tour

We tend to book tours via an aggregator like Get Your Guide (a company out of Berlin with great selection of tours in Europe, in particular) or Viator (a TripAdvisor company).

Why use an aggregator instead of going direct? Personally, we like to compare the different tours available for each attraction, as well as read reviews. Both Get Your Guide and Viator let us see multiple, similar tours, and compare prices and past reviews before making a booking.

Getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center

Budapest’s public transportation system is generally excellent, and this extends to the airport. For a detailed post about getting from Budapest Airport to  the City Center via public transit, shared shuttle, or airport taxi, read our guide here.

If you’re arriving late at night, coming in on a long-haul and expect to be exhausted, or would rather have the peace of mind of a private transfer, you can book one here. 

Buy Travel Insurance (Just in Case)

We can’t actually  recommend a travel insurance provider. Apparently it’s against the law.

However, we can say this: we know several people who racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses during separate, life-or-death situations while traveling. They were both insured by Allianz, they both received life-saving care, and they both made a successful claim.

No one wants to need travel insurance, but you’ll certainly be glad you have it if something goes wrong. And if something does go wrong in Budapest, we personally go to FirstMed for our healthcare. Staff and doctors speak English.

Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance

If you visit Budapest in winter, you’ll probably be okay if you don’t make restaurant reservations, although we’d still recommend you reserve in advance Thursday to Saturday evenings where possible.

In summer, things fill up pretty quickly, although capacity at many restaurants increases when the city’s terraces open, usually sometime in May. It’s worth noting Budapest’s restaurants are all non-smoking inside, but get quite smoky on the terraces.

Visting Sandor Palace Budapest

When you arrive at Sandor Palace, you’ll notice how accessible the building is. Despite being the President’s residence, there aren’t any fences or barricades, beyond a row of small trees and a chain. This is good news for anyone who appreciates architecture, as you can get fairly close to the building to see its details. 

Sándor Palace is neoclassical in style. It was built by Mihaly Pollak, one of the most notable architects of Hungarian classicism. Pollak is also the architect behind the Hungarian National Museum in the Palace District.

While the exterior is accessible, the same can’t be said of the interior. As the official residence and office of the current President, this is understandable.

Thus, Sandor Palace is an attraction best enjoyed from the exterior. The architecture and daily changing of the guards ceremony are the best reasons to visit Sandor Palace, and photos are very much allowed.

Seeing the Changing of the Guards in Budapest Castle District

The Changing of the Guards in Buda Castle District takes place daily according to a set schedule. If you’re set on seeing it, be sure to arrive at the correct time. The ceremony lasts just a few minutes.

You’ll see guards spin their rifles, salute, march up and down the square in unison, play the drums, and more. While the soldier’s uniforms aren’t quite as flashy as those at Buckingham Palace, it doesn’t make the show any less enjoyable!

The current show has been going on since 2003. When the Palace became the official residence of the Hungarian President, the ceremony was brought back.

Changing of the Guards at Sandor Palace Schedule

Mondays to Sundays, from 08:30 to 17:00. The Changing of the Guards happens hourly. Be sure to arrive a few minutes early, so you don’t miss any of the routine.

Last Saturday of Every Month. At 12:00 (noon) on the last Saturday of the month, the Changing of the Guard ceremony has an additional musical accompaniment.

When Hosting Visiting Dignitaries. When the President is hosting dignitaries, the ceremony includes additional choreography. The ceremony is more detailed than usual.

How to Get to Sandor Palace

You’ll find Sandor Palace at 1-2 Szent Gyorgy Square, Budapest 1014.

The palace is located inside Buda Castle District.

You can get to the Castle District by taking the Buda Castle Funicular, which sits at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge, and making the short walk from the funicular station. Alternatively, you can take Bus 16 from Deak Ferenc Ter in Budapest 5th District, and make the short walk from Dísz tér.

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