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Visual design of Gellért Hill funicular upper station, Source: KÖZTI Zrt.

World Heritage Impact Assessment underway for Gellért Hill funicular

World Heritage Impact Assessment underway for Gellért Hill funicular

The survey will determine how the development affects the UNESCO-protected Budapest landscape

A comprehensive UNESCO-compliant World Heritage Impact Assessment is being carried out in connection with the planned Gellért Hill cable car, turizmus.com reports. The aim of the survey is to assess the impact of the investment on the outstanding universal values ​​of Budapest as a World Heritage Site and to formulate further heritage protection proposals.

The construction works of the new funicular, which will have nothing in common with the old cable railway under Buda Castle, will begin within a few months.

World Heritage concerns

Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, Buda Castle Quarter, and Andrássy Avenue is among eight Hungarian sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Described as “one of the world's outstanding urban landscapes... illustrating great periods of history,” Budapest narrowly escaped inclusion in the world heritage danger list at the 44th session of the heritage committee meeting in Fuzhou, China in July. The threat came from government-initiated developments and reconstruction efforts in the protected areas, including the rebuilding of the barracks and riding stables at Buda Castle.

So, careful to avoid such tripwires, project company Gellérthegyi SIKLÓ Kft. which is 25 percent owned by the Budapest Transport Center (BKK) asked external experts to carry out a thorough impact assessment of the planned funicular.

As part of this, the cultural, historical, archaeological, landscape and nature conservation aspects are being examined and further proposals will be made to the investor. Visual images will also be made that show if and how the lift will be visible from the most important tourist attractions, such as Margaret Bridge, the Parliament, Vigadó Square, and Elizabeth Bridge, and how much it affects the existing panorama.

Hundred-year-old plans

The idea for the construction of a Gellért Hill cable car is more than a hundred years old. Gellérthegyi SIKLÓ has been working for a decade and a half to implement this much needed development. The project plans were prepared by KÖZTI Zrt., one of the largest architectural firms in Hungary with excellent credentials in monument protection.

The entrance to the funicular will be in an underpass below Hegyalja Road. The cable car will run underground for some 100 metres to Orom Street, where it will emerge above the surface catapulted along a 4-metre high bridge structure and continue its way to the upper station right under the Citadel Promenade.

The cabins can carry 50 passengers at a time, and the journey will take less than one and a half minutes. Thus, the funicular can take 1,200 people to the top of Gellért Hill per hour.

Larger green area without a parking lot

The investment has a building permit but due to changing technical content, new permit design documentation is now being prepared. The primary reason for the amendment is that the district municipality opposes the construction of a bus and car parking lot at the lower station, which was previously requested by the authorities. As a result, a larger green area with fewer felled trees will be left around the lower station and nothing will be built above the current ground level.

Decade and a half later, plans for the upper station building will also have to be updated. The fundamental change is that the glider cars will not arrive at the level of the Citadel Promenade, but one level below, in a retaining wall structure. As a result, the building will have an even milder impact on its environment compared to current licensed plans.

End to 400 tourist buses a day

The funicular will also make it possible to ban tourist buses which place an extreme burden on road traffic and deteriorate air quality in the district. During the high tourist season, some 350-400 buses run up and down Gellért Hill every day. 

The entire paved area of ​​the bus and car park under the Citadel will also become green. To replace the 94 trees that need to be cut down along the funicular route and around facilities, the project company will plant nearly 900 pre-cultivated trees.

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