On the south side the last of the hills is the Gellért Hill. The beautiful location of Budapest is largely due to a 140 metre high dolomite rock which descends steeply into the riverbed. The underground part of this rock is 1,000 meters under the surface at Városliget. In area, together with its northern slope, the Tabán, it is almost 60 hectares. Owing to its exceptional situation, it offers a peerless panorama of the entire city. Up to the end of the nineteenth century this was the limit of the town of Buda, and the hill served as an outpost and fortress of Buda Castle. The plateau is still not fully built over: only on the southern and western slopes can we find villas. The top can be reached on foot in a good quarter of an hour from the Buda end of either Elizabeth or Liberty Bridge.
In the little district of Tabán, which lies at the northern foot of Gellért Hill and consist of only few streets, the beautiful eighteenth-century Baroque St. Catherine Church and the fifteenth-century Rác baths are the most out-standing monuments. At the Buda end of the Elizabeth Bridge the domed building of the Rudas Baths dating from Turkish times is worth attention. From the Middle Ages up to the 1930s this was a densely populated district with hundreds of small houses. A large park has taken the place of the houses which were pulled down.
The Citadel, the fortress on top of the hill, was built between 1850 and 1854 by the despotic Hapsburg authorities to control the city after the suppression of the Hungarian War of Independence. In 1897 the Austrian troops left the fortress, and in 1899 the city of Budapest, which bought it, had the walls symbolically demolished – as can still be seen next to the main gate – but then it was again used to house Hungarian soldiers. During the 1944-45 siege it was from the Citadel, that the encircled German troops kept the city under gunfire until their final surrender. Today the Citadel serves as a look-out terrace and has a restaurant.
The Liberation Monument
The Liberation Monument was erected in 1947 to commemorate the liberation of the country and in honor of the soldiers of the liberating Soviet Army. The female figure holding the palm of victory together with the pedestal is 40 meters high, can be seen from all parts of the city.
St Gellért Monument
Walking down from Gellért Hill towards Elizabeth Bridge, we come to the statue of Bishop St. Gerard (Gellért) standing on the hillside. It was at this spot that the Venetian missionary died a martyr’s death early in the eleventh century. St Gellért, the Bishop of Csanád, was pushed from the top of the hill by pagan Hungarians rebelling against Christianity, nailed into a barrel, as the legend goes (or, as most historians say, on a wheelbarrow) in 1046.
Hotel Gellért and Gellért Baths
The Gellért Hotel looks like a huge white gem, which, unlike other buildings which get black with time, becomes whiter and whiter. The hotel, together with the baths, was built by the city as part of a conscious policy to make Budapest into a city of baths. Hotel guests have a separate lift at their disposal to come down to the baths.
Liberty Bridge – Szabadság híd
Linking Gellért tér (Buda) and Fõvám tér (Pest). The third permanent bridge (originally Franz Joseph Bridge) was opened on the occasion of the Millennium celebrations in 1896. On top of each pillar, standing on a golden ball, is a “Turul bird”, the mythical bird of the Hungarians, stretching its wings, preparing to take off. Some would-be suicides still climb up here – most of them are rescued by the fire brigade.
Deer House – Szarvas-ház
This triangular café was built at the beginning of the 18th century in late-Rococo style. It houses the Aranyszarvas Restaurant, famous for its game dishes. Szarvas-ház and the yellow building opposite have preserved the atmosphere of the old district of Tabán.
The Statue of Queen Elizabeth
The whole nation mourned the death of Elizabeth, wife of Franz Joseph, when she was assassinated in 1898. She was a great friend of Hungarians and even spoke our language The people waited for forty years until it was set up again in 1986.
The predecessor of the present bridge was called so in honor of Queen Elizabeth.
The old bridge reflecting the late eclectic center of Pest was demolished by the Germans in January 1945. The damage was more serious than that to the other bridges and reconstruction would have cost too much. The new bridge imitates the arch of the old one, which is perhaps why the people of Budapest like it so much. The opening of the bridge was on the afternoon of 21st November 1964 and turned into an impromptu festival despite the drizzle. The new Erzsébet híd has virtually become the symbol of the capital, the first modern yet beautiful attraction of the city.