Gellert Hill and the Citadel
Gellert Hill overlooking downtown Budapest, is a spectacle by itself.
The shape of the dolomite hill was formed mostly by the tectonic fault lines running along the path of the River Danube. Gellert Hill is one of the numerous hills under which lies a spacious cave system, the result of the solvent action of the curative thermal water.
The hill is named after the Italian Bishop Gellert (Gerardo, 980-1046) who was invited to the Hungarian Kingdom by King Stephen to help him in christianizing the pagan locals. (Ask your guide on the tour about the reason we named a hill after the Venetian bishop!)
Despite being situated in the centre of the capital, the area is part of a national park (the Duna-Ipoly National Park). Therefore, the only possible way to get to the top is on foot. Discover its hidden secrets by approaching it from the north on the stairs on Sánc street.
Here you will find the entrance to the largest water reservoir of Budapest is in the heart of the hill where two piano-shaped basins contain and supply the clear and healthy drinking water for South Buda and low-lying areas of Pest.
Above the reservoir you will find the Garden of Philosophy. You can capture some great pictures of Buda Castle and Pest from an unusual angle, then continue walking up the hill to arrive at the infamous Citadel and the Statue of Liberty.
The Citadel has been part of the landscape since the 1850s. It was completed by the Habsburgs after suppressing the Revolution of 1848. The purpose of the fortress was to intimidate the rebellious inhabitants of Pest with the help of 60 cannons facing towards Pest. The last time it was used for military purposes was during WWII. The defenses of the fortress were severely damaged – some of them are still visible on the Citadel.
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in 1946 as a statue of liberation from the fascist rule.
There were a few other statues around her in the socialist era – check them out during our tour in Memento Park.
Finish your walk by heading down from the hill on its southern side, ending up at the Underground Chapel which is just in front of the Gellert Hotel and Thermal Spa.
This Chapel was a natural cave (St. Stephen’s Cave) which was enlarged to house the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit – this is the only male hermit order that was founded in Hungary.
Gellert Hill and Citadel Info
Address: 1118 Budapest, Gellert Hill, Citadella sétány 1.
Map ref: 47.486935, 19.045279
- for Citadel: recently closed to visitors
- for Rock Chapel: Mon-Sat 9.30am – 7.30pm
- for Water-reservoir: Tuesdays and Wednesdays only 1pm-3pm