Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gellert Hill and the Gellert Baths

The bridge has been crossed and on the Buda side of the Duna is Gellert Hill:

That's the Cave Church, a church built in a cave in Gellert Hill. And in top right corner you can see the notorious Liberation Monument, honoring the "liberation" of Hungary by the Soviet Red Army in WWII. This is the facade of the cave church:

The climb to the entrance of the Cave Church is a breeze. Just a short way up the hillside and there is a monument to Szent István, the founder of Hungary. You may know Szent István as "St. Stephen," the one whose feast we remember Good King Wencelas looking out upon. Everything relates back to everything else around these parts.

The Liberty Bridge from a slightly higher elevation:

This is going to be a steep climb up the side of Gellert Hill, so you will see pictures of the Liberty Bridge from higher and higher elevations, assuming I make it to the top of Gellert Hill. (See. I'm creating dramatic tension as to whether I actually complete the long, steep, many-stepped climb to the top of Gellert Hill, a challenging climb that has been previously completed only by world class athletes, tourists, small children, and elderly Asian ladies.) So, before embarking on this tortuous climb, I pause for a photo:

Actually, I paused to tour the Cave Church. No flash photography inside. And there's not enough light for decent non-flash pictures, it being a cave and all. I tried -- I failed -- at taking pictures inside.

It is a very interesting structure. It's a cave! It's a church! It's a Cave Church! It was sealed shut with a concrete barricade during the communist era, but it re-opened in 1991 after the emancipation. It is small. The main chapel could probably hold only a couple of dozen for mass. The icons are beautiful and in multiple media. This cross marks the spot of the Cave Church on Gellert Hill:

It's across a street from the thermal bath entrance of the Gellert Hotel:

Climb some more and then look down onto the plaza in front of the Gellert Hotel:

Climb some more and look down, once again, on the Libert Bridge:

Climb some more and look down on Pest, across the Blue Danube:

Climb some more and pose for my modeling portfolio:

I am weary. I am tired to the core (but looking rather radiant in that picture, dontcha think?). Yet I find the strength to climb some more. Then, I spy, through the trees:

The Liberation Monument at the top of Gellert Hill! Just two more sets of stairs to climb and I'm at the summit:

I made it to the top. For the record, I do want to point out that, as I climbed, I did pass several of the elderly Asian women who were making the climb at the same time I was. Go me! Anyway, the monument is flanked by two other statues:

I think they are generally more interesting than the main statue:

The views of the Pest and the Mighty Duna from up there are quite nice:

I was tired after the climb. Time to head for the Gellert for a soak!

I can't show you pictures of thermal spa portion of the Gellert, only the lobby. There are plenty of pictures of the gender-segregated bathing areas of the Gellert, with their aquamarine tiles and half-cylindrical glass ceiling. The waters are warm, except for the cold pool you jump into after a spritz in the scalding-hot steamroom. The Gellert offers a number of your typical spa treatments, plus one that it is not part of the spa menu at any resort with which I am familiar:

Dentistry! Hungary is known throughout the EU for its cheap, decent-quality dentistry. Here, at the Gellert, it's a spa treatment right there with the massage, facials, and bikini waxing. Let's finish with a few exterior shots of the hotel entrance to the Gellert:

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