Budapest Hungary…..There is something particularly spectacular, about seeing a city from above. In most cases the few minutes of being amazed, requires a climb and I hate climbing. I’m a city girl who lives in the flattest part of my country. I’m used to elevators, escalators and flat pavement. Don’t get me wrong. I love being on the move. I can walk hours upon hours, but on a flat surface. Still, I think that there is something special about seeing a city from above. The feeling of being so small, but at the same time seeing so much, is quite thrilling, so maybe that’s why I still climb. However, I’m not sure if I would do it, if there would not be a view at the end.
Pest is mostly flat, the city is more spread out and streets are wide. Buda, on the other hand, is a bit older. With its narrow streets, Buda rises out of the Danube bank, with the Castle and Gellért Hills, which are the prominent geographical features. The best views of Budapest are from these two landmarks.
Jutting out of the horizon, Gellért Hill can’t be missed. It’s the most prominent point in the Buda skyline. I have been to Gellért Hill three times, each time for a different reason.
The first time I visited Gellért Hill was on the day of my arrival in Hungary. The Citadel which is located on the hill, was on my to-see-list and my host decided to show me on the very first day. We went there by car. I must say that having a car in Budapest was a blessing! And having a driver was so much better than driving myself.
The Citadel itself isn’t that spectacular. In fact you can’t even enter it. Or maybe you can, but we were not interested. I didn’t see any people entering or leaving. The dominant structure of the Citadel’s area is the statue at its summit. It appeared to me to be a woman holding a giant feather. Upon closer look, this “feather” turned out to be a palm leaf. The lady with a leaf is the Freedom Monument, formally known as the Liberation Monument, and was built in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary, from Nazi forces during World War II. There are two statues flanking the Liberation statue; a female figure holding the torch of progress and a male figure killing a dragon, which represents the defeat of fascism. They aren’t beautiful. All the 3 statues are quite ugly in fact.
But what I found beautiful was the view. The view is simply amazing. Breathtaking. Spectacular. Marvelous. I could spend hours just looking at the beautiful city of Budapest. It was not given to me to cheer my eyes , by this spectacular view, for too long, as we arrived quite late and the sun was already saying goodbye. It was quite a magical time of day. I could see the sun setting down behind other hills, somewhere outside Budapest and that was beautiful!
I was charmed by this place so much that I needed to see it in full sun. The next morning I used a car once again to get there. On the way to the hill I saw a monument of a bishop. Under the statue there was sort-of-a-waterfall. The statue turned out to be a statue of Saint Gellért himself. He was the Benedictine Abbot of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. Legend says he was passing through Budapest on a pilgrimage to Palestine. King Stephen I saw him and asked if he would stay and convert the pagan Magyars tribes to Christianity. Gellért did a favor to the king and stayed for many years. When King Stephen passed away Hungarian radicals wanting a return to paganism captured Gellért. According to a legend, they stuffed him into a barrel pierced with nails and rolled him down this hill. It meant death of course. We didn’t stop by to see the statue up close and personal, but went directly to the top. As I suspected, the views of Budapest in daylight were even more spectacular than the evening ones.
Seeing Gellért Hill twice should be enough for most of the people visiting the Hungarian capital. However I had to go back there the third time! There was a statue I wanted to see badly. Buda and Pest statue is basically a rock, separated by a gap. On the top of both sides a model of a city is carved. There are also two tall sculptures dominating the tiny skyline. Those are of King Buda and Queen Pest. My host had no idea that the sculpture was on the hill so we missed it on the first day and on the second day as well!
The third time we decided to make a walk up the hill, instead of using our car to find it. And you must to know that finding it wasn’t easy. Climbing the stairs didn’t seem as a problem. Well, it didn’t seem like much of a problem when we started, but towards the end I was breathing a little heavy and had to make pauses many times. Sometimes to make the way shorter we climbed steeper than steep klops where the only stairs we could find were the one made from trees’ roots! On the way to the top we also visited Saint Gellért to say „hello” to him. After climbing innumerable stairs we reached the top but we didn’t find the statue I was looking for! I was quite disappointed but tiredness was stronger than the will of turning over every stone to find one statue. I told we can eventually skip it. And so we decided. To make things worse it started to rain! As we didn’t have an umbrella we found a shelter under trees. When the rain was getting lighter we tried to move a bit down to not waste too much time. From time to time we had to stop as the rain had nasty moods and kept coming back with new showers. When the sun came back and brightened the park, on the horizon, totally by an accident, we saw something that looked like a sculpture! Yes! It was what I was looking for! Buda and Pest were waiting for me and were getting impatient. I could leave the hill happy now!
There is something particularly spectacular about seeing a city from above. In most of the cases the few minutes of being amazed requires a climb, but the climb is so worth it!