Located at the base of Gellert Hill, the hill that the Citadella (fortress) sits atop, is a system of caves. One of the caves was converted into a chapel in the 1920’s and even served as a hospital for the Germans during WWII. Known as the Cave Church, it was certainly one of the most interesting places that we visited during our time in Budapest. A cross on top of the hill denotes the location of the church, which is also located near the famous Gellert Baths where people gather to enjoy the therapeutic thermal baths.
The atmosphere within Cave Church is interesting due to the lack of natural light and the rugged cavern walls. After its conversion to a hospital by the NAZI army during the war, it returned to serving as a church until 1951 when the Soviet Union had it shut down. The chapel was raided by the Soviet Army, the monks arrested, and the cave sealed up until Budapest regained their freedom in 1989. Today, the monks of the Pauline Order continue to operate the church and hold religious functions on the site as well as maintain it as a tourist attraction.
There is a nominal fee in order to enter the church and walking through the cavern will take you about thirty minutes to fully explore. In addition to the statues and artwork inside of Cave Church itself, there is also a small museum with additional historic artifacts. Exploring the church and understanding its history is certainly worth the effort of walking along the Danube below Gellert Hill. We combined it with our visit to the Citadella, which sits high above. It may not be the most well-known site in Budapest, but if your itinerary allows, we would recommend visiting.
The Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is certainly an important site to visit during any trip to Budapest, Hungary. There are many reasons to visit the synagogue including its size, architecture, and history. The synagogue complex is also home to the Hungarian Jewish Museum, Heroes’ Temple, Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, and the Jewish Cemetery. There can be long lines to get into the Dohany Street Synagogue, but it is definitely worth the wait. You will undoubtedly walk away with a mix of emotions as it is haunting, sad, and yet a sense of human nature’s ability to overcome.
Along with Shoes Along the Danube Bank, walking through the Hungarian Jewish Museum is a stark reminder of how horrific the Jewish community was treated during World War II. The Dohany Street Synagogue is located in the Old Jewish Quarter of Budapest and was part of the Jewish Ghetto during the war. It is important for everyone to understand and remember the atrocities that occurred. In addition to the museum, the Jewish Cemetery, which would not normally be located next to the synagogue, is where over 2,000 people were buried toward the end of the war. There is a statue of a weeping willow in the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park in the rear courtyard that has the names and tattoo numbers of those whose lives were lost there.
The inside of the Dohany Street Synagogue is truly quite beautiful. Built in the 1850’s in a Moorish design, the synagogue holds up to 3,000 worshipers making it the second largest synagogue in the world and the largest in Europe. The seats on the ground floor are for men and the upper gallery has seats for women. There is also an ornately decorated dome within the synagogue as well as large chandeliers above the center aisle. There are also gothic influences as well, including the stained glass windows that line the main chamber.
We spent about two hours touring the Great Synagogue and it is definitely worth at least that amount of time. There are also many wonderful restaurants and shops located in the Old Jewish Quarter, so you should also spend several hours wondering through the narrow side streets. The Dohany Street Synagogue is an important landmark in Budapest and Hungary in general. We visited on a rainy day, which made the experience even more impactful.
Located in the heart of the Buda Castle District in Budapest is the historic Matthias Church. The current church was built in the 1400’s in the Gothic architectural style, but it was extensively remodeled in the 19th century. The original church was built around 1015, but nothing remains of the original Romanesque architectural style. The Matthias Church sits in front of the Fisherman’s Bastian, which is the wall with towers that surrounds the Danube River side of Castle Hill. The church is clearly visible from the Pest side of the river, especially with its colorful roof.
The church is named after King Matthias, who ruled Hungary in the 19th century. The church has been the site of several coronations as well as royal weddings, including both of King Matthias’ weddings. Unfortunately, there was actually a wedding at the church when we toured the Buda Castle District, so we weren’t able to go inside. The church itself has had as tumultuous of a history as Hungary itself. The church has had several names before becoming the Matthias Church, including The Church of Mary and The Church of Our Lady. After Hungary was conquered by the Turks, most of the church’s treasures were transferred to Bratislava and the Turks converted it to a mosque. It was later then restored and many of the Gothic features restored.
During World War II, the church was badly damaged by both the Germans and the Soviet Union, so work was done in the 1950’s and 1970’s to again restore it to it original grandeur. In addition to the church, there is also the Holy Trinity Statue that is near the main entrance of the church with wonderful details. Regardless of its history, Matthias Church is certainly one of the most important features in the Buda Castle District. The diamond patterned roof, gargoyles, and the raven with a ring in its mouth make it very interesting to see. Apparently the raven with the ring symbolizes a story of when King Matthias took off his ring and a raven grabbed it and flew off with it. King Matthias then chased down the raven and slew it in order to get his ring back.