Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) is the best place to see the sprawling city of Budapest beneath you. It was named after Saint Gerard (Gellert) (980 – 1046) who was given a mission to preach Christianity to the Hungarians.
Unfortunately he was unappreciated and thrown to death into the Danube River. His statue, or the Gellért Monument is seen on the northeast slope of the hill.
The foot of the statue is also one of the entry points to climb up to Gellért Hill.
I climbed the hill from the south end, just around the corner of Gellért Hotel. The climb was about 40 minutes with combination of roads and steps which took me closer and closer to the Liberation Statue (Szabadsag Szobor) – the lady statue holding a palm leaf. The statue was erected in 1947 when the Soviet Union ended the occupation of Nazi Germany.
The Hungarians though were not quite in line with the liberation sentiment, and the two original soviet soldier statues that stood aside the lady statue were removed and replaced by these statues which reminded me of Greek Gods.
I climbed the hill at about 10 am when it wasn’t too hot yet. The combination of gentle morning sun, light breeze and the view of Budapest and River Danube with undulating hills was simply fabulous.
There aren’t much high rises in Budapest so pretty much any prominent structures can be seen from the hill – the Buda Castle,
the parliament building,
Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the Ferris wheel,
Gellért Hill is a beautiful place to spend a few hours yet back in the 1850’s it wasn’t received well because the citadel (or fortress) that is located just behind the liberty statue was commissioned by the Austrian King, King Franz Josef, which was seen as a domineering symbol that placed Hungary’s way to independence under its shadow.
When the Hungarians gained independence from the Austrian Empire in 1918, the citadel was yet to endure another turbulent period when it fell into the hands of Nazi Germany. With its superb strategic location, it was ordered by Hitler that the citadel was to be protected at the expense of everything else.
The citadel today serves as a restaurant.
Getting there : Bus 27, Tram 18, 19, 47, 49. Get off at Szent Gellért ter Station. (at the Gellért Hotel)