|Gellert Hill with the Liberty Statue at the top|
It was a steep climb up the 235mt (771ft) high dolomite rock, step upon step with a couple of stops in between...but it's a popular destination for it's fantastic views over the city.
The hill was named after St. Gerard (an Hungarian bishop) who was thrown to his death down the hill in 1046.
My husband stayed at the bottom as his knees get sore when he climbs a lot of steps, and the 6 of us climbed to the top. On the way up we encountered two kid's playgrounds and a lot of kids enjoying themselves.
Flowers were also abundant on the way up.
Midway up we stopped at a stone cross which was erected there in 2001, having replaced a prior wooden cross which marked the entrance to the Cave Church below that area.
Sadly there are no signs on the various paths up the hill and we totally missed visiting the apparently beautiful Cave church as we didn't realize it was there.
She can be seen from almost all of the city and has become the symbol of Budapest, so it was with excitement when we finally reached the top of the hill that we saw the beautiful 14mt/46ft high Liberation Monument (or Liberty statue) that sits atop a 25mt/84ft pedestal lifting a palm leaf towards the city as a symbol of peace.
Built in 1947 to commemorate Hungary's liberation from Nazi rule during WW II, the monument used to be surrounded by Soviet themed statues, but when Communism fell in Hungary in 1989, those were moved to Monument Park (which we didn't get to visit).
The inscription in the Liberation Monument was changed to read: "To the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and success of Hungary".
The two other supporting statues on the side are a female figure holding the torch of progress and a young man killing a dragon which represents the defeat of fascism.
Behind this area is the Citadel, a fortress built by the Hapsburgs in 1848 to demonstrate control over the Hungarians, with cannons that could destroy both Buda and Peste and silence any uprising.
The Hungarians despised it and used to call it the Budapest Bastille.
We were tired from the climb and still had the descent to do, so didn't go around the back to the Citadel, but there are outdoor exhibits - Soviet artillery guns, there is a Museum with bunkers and a prison yard and the Citadel Cafe with a terrace overlooking the city and the Citadella Panorama restaurant is the best place to be before dusk with the city lights come on.
The views from the hill are amazing of course - the various bridges over the Danube, the Market hall, Parliament, the modern train station...
|Pauline Monastery at the bottom of the Gellert Hill|
Upon reaching our apartment we changed for dinner and met up with the rest of the family in the lobby at the arranged time.
Just down the road from us at Kazinczy street 32 was the Soul Food restaurant.
We were seated on the first floor of this small restaurant and the stairs wall was painted with a big mural.
Food was tasty - I had a Seafood Gumbo - and reasonably priced, the waiter on his first day was a bit slow but that was to be expected.
Throughout the day my throat was getting worse, and I was now coughing quite a lot but had reached the limit of lozenges and sprays for the day.
At a certain stage during dinner my cough got so bad that it felt as if I had asthma as I was having trouble breathing with the prolonged coughing fits!
It was scary and embarrassing having everyone look at me when that happened.
My daughter wondered if it could be an allergy and offered me one of her anti-histamines that she was taking for hay fever.
Somehow it actually helped as soon after I wasn't coughing as much. I think I might have been allergic to that throat spray.
|Soul Food restaurant|
Right across from our building was the Szimpla Kert, at 14 Kazinczy Street, known as the first ruin pub in Budapest.
We had already popped in on our first evening, but didn't stay, but being our last night in Budapest, we went there for a drink and to experience the atmosphere.
Even though the place was crowded, and there were a lot of tourists and a young crowd outside it wasn't rowdy.
The delapidated building that used to house a stove factory was facing demolition in 2004, and the four owners of the Szimpla Kert bar decided to move into this building as it provided the environment they were looking for. The large courtyard at the back was used as an open-air cinema to show Indie and underground films.
Most of these "ruin bars" are located in the District VII (the Jewish quarter), an area that was left to decay after WW II, so it was perfect for the underground bar scene. From the 0utside they look like normal homes, no loud music or drunken people, but once inside the areas are artsy and funky.
From the photos you can see that the furniture doesn't match, all the rooms are decorated differently, lots of art on the walls, pipes or electrical wiring on show... I guess this would certaily not pass inspection in any other European country! But it's certainly unique!
|Szimpla Kert bar|
And to end today's post you might enjoy this short Youtube aerial video of Budapest that starts with the Citadel and Gellert Hill. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.