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Budapest’s Gellért Hill Citadella to undergo major overhaul

Budapest’s Gellért Hill Citadella to undergo major overhaul

The revived area will feature a museum, a park with artificial lake and fountain and will be accessible by a funicular

Design plans for the reconstruction of the Citadella, the historic fortress atop Budapest’s Gellért Hill, have been completed, reports Telex. The Citadella has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987, and is currently a must-visit tourist attraction due to the spectacular views of the capital city that it provides. The purpose of the makeover is to improve the accessibility of the area and enrich the visitor experience by providing more features. 

Museum and park

The Citadella’s roundel, which is dilapidated and closed for visitors, will be partly demolished and converted into a museum of Hungary’s freedom fighters. Its horseshoe-shaped inner area will be transformed into a 400 sq m artificial lake connecting to a park, designed by Artist Design Studio and Pagony Landscaping and Gardening Ltd. With the demolition of a part of the tower’s wall, a 240 m² staircase will be created, going down to the Statue of Liberty.

Apart from the lake, the reconstructed Citadella will feature an exhibition area, a restaurant, renovated fortress walls, a large garden with trees and a 200 sq m courtyard fountain. Right in the middle of the area will be hoisted a 35-m tall Hungarian flag.  

New lookout terraces will be formed in the enlarged squares of the aisle. The northern bastion will command views of Erzsébet bridge and Pest, while the southern bastion will face Kelenföld. The Eastern terrace will provide a good view of the Freedom bridge, and Margit Island, Buda Castle, and Széna Square will be in plain sight from the museum’s roof-terrace.

Plan “a bit astonishing”

The Citadella’s reconstruction will be carried out by the companies of two businessmen with close ties to Prime Minister Victor Orbán: Lőrinc Mészáros’ ZÁEV Ltd. and István Garancsi’s Market Ltd. The project with a budget of HUF 20 billion (EUR 550 million) should be completed by the spring of 2023.

Budapest’s chief architect, Zoltán Erő, quoted by Telex, has called the plan “a bit astonishing”, but nevertheless representing a good starting point. Among the reservations he has voiced is that the planned big openings of the Citadella’s walls should be tighter and more alley-like, and the stairs from the Statue of Liberty should be less steep.

During the three-year reconstruction, special attention must be paid to other factors. The Citadel is also a nature conservation area, and important archaeological artefacts have been unearthed there, including Celtic, Roman and Turkish coins and ceramics, and the remains of a 19th century observatory’s walls. The project manager has assured the public that archaeological monitoring will be maintained during the reconstruction works.

Gellért Hill funicular

As part of the Citadella’s reconstruction project, the government has approved the construction of a Gellért Hill funicular. As reported by Hungary Today, the single track system will connect Citadel Promenade with Hegyalja Road, and part of the lane will run underground. 

The cars will carry up to 40 passengers, making the journey between the end stations in just 72 seconds. The eco-friendly transportation system is intended to replace the buses climbing daily up and down Gellért Hill during the tourist season.

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