Upon crossing over the iconic greenish Liberty Bridge, I was greeted by Gellert Hotel on the left and Gellert Hill on the right. Now, standing at Buda means I have officially made it to Buda-Pest! Cheap thrill…LOL!! The nice-looking Gellert Hotel is famed for its thermal bath but that ain’t my kind of thing so I skipped and went straight for the hill.
There are two places to walk up the hill – either from Gellert Hotel or at the end of Elisabeth Bridge. The bus is another option but I believe the best way to experience this area is by walking.
Gellért Hill, named after the Italian Bishop who was killed during a rebellion, looms over Danube River on Buda side.
Cave Church of Gellert Hill
Adjacent to the hotel is an upslope leading to the Cave Church (Sziklakapolna). This is not one with the usual stained glass windows or high ceilings. Instead, it’s a unique cave setting formed by thermal springs. And the tiny church was used by Hungarian Pauline Order since 1926. But the first service was actually held in front of the cave, where the name ‘Church by the Rock’ came about.
The church was shut down during the Communist era and its main entrance sealed off with a concrete wall. The monks were arrested and Father Ferenc Vezér was sentenced to death…
It only reopens some 40 years later after the collapse of Iron Curtain.
There’s a nice statue of St. Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary standing aside his horse holding a church.
Walking around the hollowed cave was quite an amazing experience, the natural cooling temperature inside makes it very comfortable too. It doesn’t take too long to explore this church but it’s definitely worth to check it out!
The huge cross perched right above the Cave Church.
Moving uphill brought me to the Citadel (Citadella) and seeing the prominent Liberty Statue (Szabadság Szobor). The Hungarian Liberty Statue, or Freedom Statue, is a female figure standing atop on this tall pedestal holding a palm leaf above her head that symbolizes victory. The statue was built in remembrance of Soviet liberation of Hungary during World War II, which ended the occupation by Nazi forces but the beginning of Commies’ era…
The prominent symbol of Budapest and can be seen across the city. There are two smaller statues flanking the Liberty statue, one of them shown defeating of a dragon (fascism) and the other holding the torch of progress.
The Citadel was built by the Austrians to exercise control over Budapest as its strategic location provided a clear view of both Buda and Pest.
Breathtaking view from here makes this a must-see in Budapest!! Panoramic views of Danube River and the whole city make the climb super worthwhile. Simply stunning!
Entered the Citadel after paying the entrance fee but seriously, there ain’t nothing much in it except one of the bunkers which were used by the German army.
I spent a little more time to take in the view of Budapest before making my way down the hill. In which, I stopped by the Statue of St. Gellert.
Right at the foot of the hill is Döbrentei tér where there’s a statue of the well-loved Empress Elisabeth.
If you’re planning to visit Budapest, make sure to include Gellert Hill in your itinerary!!