Gellért Hill church cave, Budapest
The Gellért Hill Cave, in Hungarian Gellérthegyi-barlang is part of a network of caves within Gellért Hill in Budapest and can be visited by tourists. The cave is also referred to as "Saint Ivan's Cave" regarding a hermit who lived here and is believed to have used the natural thermal water next to the cave to heal the sick. It is likely that this same water fed the pools of Gellért Bath. In the 19th century the cave was inhabited by a poor family who built a small house in the great opening. The mouth of the cave was closed off with a planking and it was used as a peasant courtyard. Today it is functioning as a church.
The first modern entrance for the caves was constructed in the 1920s by a group of Pauline monks who have been inspired by similar rock constructions during a pilgrimage in Lourdes, France. Kálmán Lux, professor at the Budapest University of Technology was the architect in charge. It served as a chapel and monastery until 1951. During this time, it also served as a field hospital for the army of Nazi Germany during World War II.
In 1945, the Soviet Red Army captured Budapest. For six years, the cave continued its religious functions, but in 1951, the State Protection Authority raided the chapel as part of increasing action against the Catholic Church. As a result of the raid, the cave was sealed, the monastery's superior, Ferenc Vezér, was condemned to death, and the remaining brothers were imprisoned for upwards of ten years.
As the Iron Curtain disintegrated, the chapel reopened on 27 August 1989 with the destruction of the thick concrete wall that had sealed the cave. By 1992, the Chapel had been restored and the Pauline Order had returned to the cave. Today, the monks continue to perform religious functions within. The church features many rooms, worthy of attention is the one in which all the ornaments have been carved in hardwood by a faithful follower of the Pauline Order. The terrace in front of the entrance is proudly guarded by the statue of Saint Stephen standing besides his horse.