The Gellért Hill Cave has been used as a home and a church for centuries. Today it is used as a church by the Pauline Order monks.
Gellért Hill Cave
Gellért Hill – Budapest
GPS: 47.484922, 19.052169
The first King of Hungary, Saint Stephen, stands guard at the entrance of the Gellért Hill Cave.
The cave is also referred to as “Saint Ivan’s Cave”. This is referring to a hermit who lived centuries ago, and is believed to have used the natural thermal water nearby to heal the sick.
In the 19th century the cave was inhabited by a poor family. They built a small home inside the cave using sun-dried bricks, and sealed the cave entrance with wooden planks. This peasant house in the cave was photographed by György Klösz in 1877.
The first modern entrance for the caves was constructed in the 1920s by Pauline monks who were inspired by the cave in Lourdes, France.
It served as a chapel and monastery until 1951. But also during this time of World War II, it served as a Nazi field hospital.
In 1951, the Communist State Protection Authority raided the chapel as part of increasing action against the Catholic Church. As a result of the raid, the cave was sealed, the monastery’s superior, Ferenc Vezér, was condemned to death, and the remaining brothers were imprisoned.
After the Soviets left Budapest, the chapel reopened on 27 August 1989. By 1992, the Chapel had been completely restored, and the Pauline Order had returned to the cave.
Today, monks continue to perform religious functions, though the cave is also a popular tourist attraction.
The church is complemented by a mysterious neo-gothic monastery with turrets, carved into the rock and overlooking the Danube River. Continuing the tradition of churches that can also be fortresses.
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