- 9 Jan 2014 7:00 AM
he 235-metre-high hill which is situated in the 11th district of the city, is a popular beauty spot, which is abound in both historical and natural values. Gellért hill - often referred to as the gem of Budapest - and the nature conservation area that belongs to it have been part of the world heritage since 1987.
Each year on 20 August the rockets of the ceremonial firework are launched from here.
Gellért hill was named after Bishop Gellért, who played a significant role in the propagation of Christianity in Hungary. According to the myth in 1046 he was locked in a barrell and thrust into the Danube by pagan Hungarians who rebelled against Christianity.
However the reality content of the story is questionable, the hill started to be called Saint Gellért hill only from the 15th century. According to some other legends the hill was once a homestead of witches.
The first inhabitants of the first settlement built upon Gellért hill in ancient times were the Celts, the hill had been a flourishing centre up until the 1st century AD. In the age of the Árpáds the hill was called Kelen hill or Pesti hill. The consrtuctions of the Ottoman occupation, that are still standing today are medicinial bath found at the foot of the hill; these are today's Gellért bath, Rudas bath, and Rác bath.
At the top of the hill a hoarding castle was built in these times. Between 1813-15 in the place of this castle to the initiative of palatine Joseph the observatory of the University of Nagyszombat, which had already moved to Buda by this time, was built and unfortunately destroyed in 1849, at the siege of Buda.
The Citadel, one of the most famous historical monuments found on Gellért hill, can be connected to the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49. The fortress was built after the revolution was put down, between 1850-54 by order of Julius Haynau, with the purpose of keeping an eye on the city and the rebelling Hungarians.
The fortress character of the 220 m long, 12-16 m high Citadel ended by 1897, a part of its wall was symbolically demolished, too. Today it is a tourist sight, additionally it provides a first-rate view over the capital that lies beneath Gellért hill.
The other significant historical sight and monument, the Statue of Liberty raise s monument to the memory of the liberation from Nazi rule. The statue erected in 1947 depicts a woman holding a palm branch in her arms raised. The statue itself is 14 m high, however together with the pedestal it reaches 40metres. The statue of Liberty is a work of Zsigmond Kisfaludyi Stróbl.
Few people know that Gellért hill which is mostly known as a historical memorial and look-out is also home to many protected natural values. It's geological significance is also outstanding, the fault lines running along the foot of the hill made it possible that the numerous hot springs, such as Mátyás, Rákóczi, and Árpád spring came to existance.
From among the caves of Gellért hill István cave and the rock chapel belonging to it, and the spring caves of Gellért, and Rudas bath are protected. Part of the drinking-water reserve (80 million litres) of the capital is stored in the bowels of the hill, visiting the reservoir is also allowed at certain times.
The northern slope of the hill came to be known as Tabán. Today, especially in the winter, when the first snow fell down families with children visit Tabán, as it is a magnificent place for sledging. It is also home to folk and rock concerts throughout the summer. The two parts of the Berlin wall exhibited here are also worth seeing.
Today mainly luxury flats diplomacy buildings are found on Gellért hill. The secessionist Hotel Gellért, found at the foot of Freedom bridge, and Gellért bath built together with it provide an especially beautiful sight at night due to the illumination.
MTi Photo: Nagy Zoltán