While one half of the city, Pest, is flat, Buda’s curvy hills are rich with secret labyrinths, hidden bunkers and caving adventures.
There are up to 200 caves in total.
Budapest’s subterranean world owes its debt to the city’s spas, or rather their water, which has carved out a network of caverns.
Here are some of the highlights.
- Hills under the Hungarian capital are riddled with caves, many formed by water from the city’s spas
- Many of the caves are open to the public, with guided tours and spelunking expeditions
- Subterranean attractions include a former hospital, a Cold War bunker and a church
Dracula’s prison and the Labyrinth
The Labyrinth is part of the natural cave system under Castle Hill.
It’s shown signs of being inhabited as far back as prehistoric times, with people living there as late as the 11th and 12th centuries.
Caves here have since functioned as wine cellars and masonry mines, but come wrapped in curious myths.
The Turks used them for military purposes in the 16th century, but archeological evidence also hints at an underground harem.
One of the Labyrinth’s headline attractions is Vlad Tepes, known better as Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, who spent a spell down here as a prisoner.
The Cave Church of Gellert Hill
Gellert Hill is a landmark in Budapest.
Rising above the Danube, it overlooks the whole city and guards its own cave network.
Unlike the caves beneath the city’s other hills, most of these are closed off.
The main cave open to the public, St. Ivan’s, houses a small church with an entrance facing one of Budapest’s most famous spas, the Gellert Baths.
Use of the cave as a church is fairly new.
Pauline Monks occupied it in the 1920s but it was sealed up for decades after the Soviet Red Army captured Budapest in 1945.