Why visit: panorama, walks, history, architecture, Statue of Liberty, Gellért Baths
A Brief History of Gellért Hill
The hill was named after bishop Gellért (Gerard), who was thrown to death from the hill by pagans in the fight against Christianity in 1046. His statue, which faces Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet hid) and holds a cross, can be seen from many parts of Pest. At the top of the hill is the Citadel (Citadella), a fortress built by the Habsburgs after defeating Hungary's War of Independence in 1849. It was a prime, strategic site for shelling both Buda and Pest in the event of a future rebellion.
In the 18th century, the slopes of Gellért Hill were covered with vineyards. The Tabán district at the foot of the hill was an important center of winemaking in Buda. Gellért Hill was a strategic military position in the Second World War as well as the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when Soviet tanks bombarded the city from here. Budapest's Statue of Liberty stands on top of the hill, and she can be seen from all parts of the city. Liberty was erected during the Communist era, commemorating the liberation from Nazi rule.
Now a residential area, private homes and embassies line the streets winding up the hill. Since 1987, Gellért Hill has been listed as a world heritage site, as part of "the Banks of the Danube" area. The famous Hotel Gellért and the Gellért Baths can be found in Gellért Square at the foot of the hill.
Things to Do and See Around Gellért Hill
Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) offers some of the best panoramic views of Budapest. Starting your sightseeing here is not just a wonderful experience and a good first impression of the city, but it also makes orientation much easier. It's like laying out a map of Budapest in front of you. You can see the structure of the city and the difference between the hilly Buda side and the flat Pest side, with the Danube dividing the two. Besides the wonderful view, there are several attractions worth visiting:
St. Gellért Monument - A colonnade and the statue of St. Gellért commemorate the bishop, Gellért Hill was named after.
Citadel (Citadella) - This fortress, built by the Habsburgs after 1849, has been a military checkpoint, prison, anti-aircraft missile launch pad, and is now a tourist attraction.
Statue of Liberty (Szabadság Szobor) - Budapest's Statue of Liberty stands on top of the hill, and she can be seen from all parts of the city. The statue (by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, 1947) was erected during the Communist era. As Liberty had already become a symbol of the city, she was not removed unlike other Communist icons, such as the Red Army soldier who used to stand at her feet, allowing us to see her in her original surroundings.
Gellért Hill Cave Church (Sziklatemplom) - A network of caves exists within Gellért Hill. The first modern entrance to the caves was built in the 1920s. The Gellért Hill Cave served as a chapel and a field hospital during World War II. Today it belongs to the Hungarian Paulite order and it continues to serve as a church, but its unique setting also makes it a favorite tourist attraction.
Getting to Gellért Hill: Streetcars 19, 47 and 49 have stops at Gellért Square
Insider Tip: Gellért Hill has a popular play area equipped with children's slides of different length and difficulty. It's not visible from the main path, so look for the wooden signs pointing to the 'csúszdák'.