Gellért Hill Cave in Budapest
The Gellért Hill Cave is part of a network of caves within Gellért Hill in Budapest, Hungary. The cave is also referred to as "Saint Ivan's Cave" (Szent Iván-barlang), regarding a hermit who lived there and is believed to have used the natural thermal water of a muddy lake next to the cave to heal the sick. It is likely that this same water fed the pools of the old Sáros fürdő ("Muddy Baths"), now called Gellért Baths.
In the 19th century the cave was inhabited by a poor family who built a small adobe house in the great opening. The mouth of the cave was closed off with a planking and it was used as a peasant courtyard. This situation was recorded on a painting by Mihály Mayr (made sometime in the 1860s) and a photograph by György Klösz in 1877.
The first modern entrance for the caves was constructed in the 1920s by a group of Pauline monks. After its consecration in 1926, 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, though the cave is also a common tourist attraction.