Tomb of Gül Baba is one of the most special reminders of 16th – 17th-century Hungarian history, when for a long period Buda and central Hungary were under Turkish occupation. This is one of the quirkiest attractions in Budapest.
Gül Baba was a Bektashi dervish, poet, and mystic. He arrived to Buda in 1541 as the leader of the janissaries fighting in the Ottoman Army.
He had a significant role in the capture of Buda but he couldn’t enjoy the victory for long as he died during a prayer service for the victory that was held in Matthias Church, which had been converted to a mosque. At Gül Baba’s funeral Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was one of the coffin bearers.
Ottoman armies in Hungary
Sultan Süleyman turned against Hungary in 1521 and soon he captured Belgrade, a significant fortress of the southern defense line. In 1526 he won against the army of the Hungarian Kingdom at Mohács.
In 1541 he conquered Buda, the capital city.
Buda in the Ottoman era (1541-1686)
Buda was under the Ottoman rule from 1541. It soon became the center of the newly established province.
Large numbers of soldiers stationed in the fortress of Buda and they were quickly joined by civilians.
In a few decades, Buda turned into a city of eastern appearance, a typical Ottoman city. Minarets, muezzins called to prayers and streets became busy with veiled women. Thermal baths and coffeehouses were built.
The Ottoman armies tried to conquer Vienna in 1683 but they failed. The Christian powers finally joined their forces and regained a significant part of the Hungarian Kingdom.
By this time the country was devastated by the Ottoman rule and the attacks during the recapture.
According to a legend, Gül Baba was a peaceful man who introduced roses to Buda. In fact, he was a Muslim warrior monk and because he died so soon after the capture of Buda he definitely could not have any time to plant roses. Still, Gül Baba is remembered by Turks and Hungarians today as a symbol of Turkish-Hungarian friendship.
Tomb of Gül Baba
Gül Baba’s Tomb is an octagonal tomb (in Turkish: Türbe) that was built surrounding his grave a few years after his death.
Today it is the northernmost pilgrimage site in Islam.
During the 16th century, a dervish monastery was built around it that operated until 1686, the recapture of Buda by Christian forces. The tomb became a possession of the Jesuits until Maria Theresa disbanded the order. The building became the property of the royal treasury.
Inside the tomb stands a sarcophagus decorated with a turban.
In 1913 archeological digs found three skeletons under the tomb, one of them belonged to Gül Baba himself.
During WW2 the tomb wasn’t significantly damaged and the reconstruction was undertaken in 1962 and later in 1994.
In 2016 a more thorough restoration began and the whole area surrounding the tomb was reorganized.
A new visitors’ center was built that provides an overview of the history of the 15-16-17th centuries, the life of the Ottoman’s in Buda, the dervishes, and Gül Baba’s work.
There is also an exhibition hall, gift shop, and café in the center.
Garden of Tomb of Gül Baba
The vicinity of the tomb has been called Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) since the 19th century. Yes, this whole area was named after the legend of Gül Baba.
The garden is located on the south-eastern slope of Rózsadomb. This area was once a vineyard, which is not uncommon in Buda.
Today there is a hanging garden on the southern slope of the building complex with Mediterranean spices, roses, lavender. While sitting on the benches you are surrounded by a nearly 500 years old historical site.
Right behind the tomb lays a fountain that symbolizes eternal renewal.
Another impressive element is the row of arched arcades right in front of the entrance to the visitors’ center.
The eastern terrace has a marvelous panorama.
How to get to Tomb of Gül Baba
Address: Tomb of Gül Baba District II. Mecset utca 14
I recommend walking up to the Tomb through Mecset utca (Mosque Street). The entrance of this street is very near to the foot of Margaret Bridge on the Buda side. As you walk upwards, you will soon see the hanging garden on the right side.
After visiting the Tomb, the best route downwards is through Gül Baba street. This is the steepest street in Budapest and has a very unique atmosphere – do not miss it!
The entrance to Tomb of Gül Baba is free.
Sights in the vicinity of Tomb of Gül Baba
Mansfeld Péter Park
Just a minute walk from the entrance of Tomb of Gül Baba lays a beautiful, quiet little park with gorgeous panorama.
The park was named after Péter Mansfeld, one of the most tragic heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956.
He was a 15-year-old student need participated in fights, brought food, water and delivered messages between the freedom fighters. He believed the promise that Hungarian should continue to fight and the West would come to their aid. Unfortunately, the aid never came.
After the Revolution was bloodily suppressed by the Soviet Empire, Péter was arrested at the age of 16 and a few days after his 18th birthday he was executed.
Today his statue stands in the middle of this park named after him as a symbol of a young boy’s love of his homeland.
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