Gellert Hill rises 140 meters above Budapest overlooking the Danube River, the hill is the site of several points of interest and is also a great place to get a panoramic view across the city. The hill is named after Bishop Gellert Sagredo who is credited with bringing Christianity to Hungary. Gellert worked under the reign of Hungary’s first Christian king, Saint Stephan. When the king died pagan insurgents sealed Gellert in a barrel and rolled him down the hill. Today the hill is a UNESCO designated site.
During the 1850s the Austrian Habsburgs constructed a citadel on top of the hill. The Citadel was meant to control, protect and watch over Budapest. When the Habsburgs left the city in 1867 the Citadel became the property of the city and it was partially destroyed to demonstrate the demise of the Austrian hold over the country. Later the building was used by the Germans in WWII and used as barracks. Today the Citadel is Gellert Hotel attached to the neoclassical spa complex built in 1918.
In 1947 the Liberty Monument was designed by Kisfaludi Strobl and built on the hill to honor the Soviet soldiers who had liberated the city from the Nazis. The 14 meter high monument is topped with a female figure holding a palm frond and on either side at the base of the monument stand allegorical figures representing progress and evil. During the Communist Era a statue of a Soviet soldier stood in front of the monument but it has since been removed. Also on the hill are a Cave Church used by the Pauline Order up until 1951 and the Gellert Monument erected in 1904.
A few interesting tidbits! Legend has it that witches used to visit the hill at night riding on humans. Part of the city’s water supply is stored in reservoirs within the hill. On 20th August (a national holiday) fireworks are launched from the hill.