Szent Gellért plébania

Cave Church at Gellért Hill

Useful Information

Location: Gellért Hill, Budapest. Opposite the Gellert Bath. (Lat 47° 29' 03" N, Long 19° 03' 03" E)
Open: All year daily 9-21. Services Mon-Sat 11, 17, 20, Sun 8:30, 11, 17, 20 (Magyar - Hungarian). Tourist visits not allowed during services.
Fee: free
Classification: ExplainCave Church, ExplainKarst cave.
Light: electric
Guided tours:  
Address: XI. Szt. Gellért rkp. 1, Budapest, Tel: +361-385-1529.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1924 Pauline order founded.
Whit Sunday 1926 consecrated.
1951 Hungarian secret police broke into the chapel and arrested the entire order of Pauline monks.
27-AUG-1989 reopened.
1992 demolition of the concrete wall and reconstruction of the chapel finished.


Gellért Hill Cave, also known as Saint Ivan's Cave, is located 25m above the Danube river, on the hillside. The cave is rather big with a big entrance portal. It was visible from far, and as the Slavic word for cave is pest, this place was called Pest Hill. This gave name to the city Pest on this side of the river, which - in combination with the village Buda on the other side of the river, explains the name of the Hungarian Capital: Budapest.

The cave was probably used over millennia, but because of the various human changes, there is no original content left for an archaeological excavation. During the Middle Ages, according to legend, an hermit named Istvan or Ivan lived in the cave. He cured sick people with thermal water which sprung in front of his cave. Today the water is used for the famous Gellert Bath on the other side of the road. Istvan was later canonised, and the cave named Szent Istvan Barlang (Saint Ivan's Cave).

In 1924 a Pauline order was founded and used the cave as a church. After they came back from a pilgrimage to Lourdes, the started to refurbish it. In 1925 and 1926 they transformed the cave by creating a new entrance with the use of explosives and the interior transformed into a copy of Lourdes. Later a Pauline monastery was built alongside and connected to the chapel with its own private entrance. It was now called Sziklakápolna (Chapel in the Rock).

The order was destroyed by the Hungarian secret police in 1951, the superior Ferenc Vezér was condemned to death, the others to five to 10-year prison sentences. The chapel was conficated, the entrance sealed with a 2.25m thick concrete wall for security reasons. It served as a karst water inspection station and government store.

In 1989, after the political changes, the cave was reopened. The concrete wall was demolished and the chapel reconstructed. In 1992 it was finally consecrated, and since this time it serves again as church. Today the revived Pauline Order counts some 10 friars.