Rising steeply beside the Danube, Gellert Hill is one of Budapest's most attractive areas. From the top, at a height of 140 meters (460 ft), a beautiful view of the whole of Budapest unfolds. the Celtic Eravi, who preceded the Romans, formed their settlement on the hill's northern slope. Once called simply Old Hill, many superstitions and tales connect with it.
In 1046, heathen citizens threw a sealed barrel containing Bishop Gellert , who was trying to convert them to Christianity, from the hill to his death. Afterwards, the hill thanked its name after this martyr. Gellert Hill bulges slightly into the Danube, which narrows at this point. This made the base of the hill a favored crossing place, and the settlement of Tabán evolved as a result.
Liberation Monument Gellert Hill
Positioned high on Gellért Hill, this imposing monument towers over the rest of the city. Its design is from the outstanding Hungarian sculptor Zsigmond Krisfaludi Stróbl and it's set up here to commemorate Budapest's liberation by the Russian army in 1945. The monument was originally intended to honor the memory of István, son of the Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy, who disappeared in 1943 on the eastern front.
However, after the city's liberation by Russian troops, Marshal Klimient Woroszylow spotted it in the sculptor's workshop and reassigned it to this purpose. The central figure on the monument is a women holding aloft a palm leaf. Standing on its pedestal, this reaches a height of 14 meters (46 ft). At the base of the monument there are two allegorical compositions, representing progress and the battle with evil.
The arrival of the Russians in Budapest was a liberation but also the beginning of Soviet rule. After Communism's fall, a figure of a Russian soldier moved from the monument to the Statue Park.
Gellert Hotel and Baths Complex
Between 1912-1918, the Gellért Hotel and Baths Complex emerged in the modernist Secession style at the foot of Gellér Hill. The earliest reference to the existence of healing waters at this spot dates from the 13th century, during the reign of King András II and in the Middle Ages a hospital stood on the site.
The renowned Turkish travel writer Evliya Çelebi referred to the baths built here by the Ottomans. The architects of the hotel were Ármin Hegedús , Artúr Sebestyén and Izodor Sterk. Destroyed in 1945, it was rebuilt and modernized after World War II. The hotel has several restaurants and cafés. The baths include an institute of water therapy, set within Secession interiors, but with modern facilities.
Rock Church Budapest
On the southern slope of Gellert Hill, the entrance to this grotto church is a short walk from the Gellért Hotel and Baths Complex. Based on the shrine at Lourdes, the church, designed by Kálmán Lux, is from 1926. The church was for the Pauline order of monks, founded in the 13th century by Eusebius of Esztergom.
In 1934, 150 years after Joseph II had dissolved the order in Hungary, 15 friars returned from exile in Poland. However, their residence lasted only until the late 1950's, when the Communist authorities suspended the activities of the church, accusing the monks of treasonable acts, and sealed the entrance to the grotto.
The church and adjoining monastery reopened on 27 August 1989, when a papal blessing conferred on its beautiful new granite altar, designed by Gyözó Sikot.
Citadel near Gellart Hill
After suppressing the uprising of 1848-1849, the Habsburgs decided to build a fortification on this strategically important site. Constructed in 1850-1854, the Citadel (Citadella) housed 60 cannons, which could, in theory, fire on the city at any time. In reality, from its very start, the Citadel did not fulfill real military requirements but served rather to intimidate the population. The Citadel is some 220 meters (720 ft) long by 60 meters (200 ft) wide and has walls 4 meters (12 ft) high. After
After agreeing peace with the Habsburgs, Hungarian society continually demanded destruction of the Citadel, but it was not until 1897 that the Austrian soldiers left their barracks there. A part of its entrance gateway was then symbolically ripped out. After much discussion in the early 1960's, the Citadel became a leisure complex. A restaurant and a hotel now attract customers up Gellert Hill. From the old defensive walls of the Citadel, there is a spectacular panorama of Budapest.
The Tabán now consists of a pleasant park and a few historic buildings but was once very different. In the early 20th century this district, nestling in between Castle Hill and Gellért Hill was a slum, cleared as part of a programme to improve the city. Only a few buildings, including Tabán Parish Church, escaped the demolition.
Natural conditions ensured that this was one of the first places in the area where people chose to live. The Celtic Eravi were the first to settle here, while the Romans later built a watchtower from which they could see people using a nearby crossing point over the river.
The first reference to bathing in thermal waters in Tabán dates from the 15th century. The Turks took advantage of this natural asset and built two magnificent baths here. These were the Rác Baths and the Buda Baths, around which a blossoming town flourished. Apart from the baths, almost everything was destroyed in the recapture of Buda in 1686. In the late 17th century, many Serbs referred to in Hungarian as Rács, moved into the Tabán after fleeing from the Turks.
Greeks and Gypsies joined them. Many of the inhabitants of the Tabán at this stage were tanners or made their living on the river. Cultivation of grapevines started on the hillside above. By the early 20th century, though picturesque, the district was still without proper sanitation. The old, decaying Tabán, with its many bars and gambling dens, was demolished and the present green space established in its place.
Semmelweis Museum of Medical History
This museum is in the 18th-century house where Dr Ignáz Semmelweis was born in 1818. He's renowned for his discovery of an antiseptic-based prevention for puerperal fever, a fatal condition common among women who had recently given birth.
The history of medicine from ancient Egypt onwards is on display in the museum, which includes a replica of a 19th-century pharmacy. Semmelweis's surgery can also be seen with its original furniture. In the courtyard is a monument called Motherhood by Miklós Borsos.
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