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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gellért Hill

October 7, 2013

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Gellért  Hill

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The highest point in Budapest is Gellért Hill which is named after St. Gellért who came to Hungary as a missionary bishop upon the invitation of King St. Stephen I. around 1000 AD. Of course Kathy wanted to hike up to the top of it and check out the huge citadel that rests at the top of the hill, so we hiked across the river and up the series of switchbacks to the top to check it out and enjoy the amazing views.

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St. Gellért was tasked with helping the Hungarians convert to Christianity. Some pagan leaders who did not want to convert captured St. Gellért and rolled him down from the hill in a barrel. The St. Gellért monument and its fountain representing his martyrdom can be found on the Northeastern slope of the hill facing the Elisabeth bridge. 

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The fortress of the Citadel was built by the Habsburgs to demonstrate their control over the Hungarians. The top of the Gellért Hill is a strategic point from where they had an overview of both Buda and Pest. Though it was equipped with 60 cannons, it was used as threat rather than a working fortification. After the reconciliation with the Habsburgs the Hungarians wanted to demolish the buildings, but after all it did not happen. In the mid 20th century it was converted to a tourist center.

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The fortress was built in 1851 by Julius Jacob von Haynau, a commander of the Hapsburg Monarchy, and designed by Emánuel Zita and Ferenc Kasselik, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. It occupies almost the entire 235 meters high plateau. The fortress is a U-shaped structure built about a central courtyard, being 220 meters long, 60 meters wide, and 4 meters tall.

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Actually built by Hungarian forced laborers, it was finished in 1854. In June 1854 Austrian troops settled in the citadel. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the establishment of Austria–Hungary, the Hungarians demanded the destruction of the Citadel, but the garrison troops left only in 1897, when the main gate was symbolically damaged. It was not until late 1899 when the city took possession of the Citadel. A few months later, in 1900, the walls were demolished.

In the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Soviet troops occupied the Citadel. Tanks fired down into the city during the assault that overthrew the Nagy-led Hungarian government. Today the site is a popular tourist destination with the citadel itself as well as a display of Soviet-era armaments and some impressive monuments all worth visiting.

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Kathy and I checked them all out including the dominating Liberation Monument which towers over the entire area. The statue was erected in 1947 after the second world war. The main figure is a woman, holding an olive branch, the symbol of peace in her hands. On both sides symbolic figures can be seen: the young man's victory over the dragon represents the defeat of fascism.

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The most impressive aspect of the hill though is the commanding view of the entire city that you have when you visit. It is really incredible and the entire experience was just a real pleasure for us as the weather was just about a perfect fall day with crisp temperatures, beautiful fall foliage in its early stages and bright sunshine.

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