Budapest

Renovations begin on Budapest’s rustic Gül Baba Street

Photo : László Balkányi / We Love Budapest
Gül Baba utca

At the base of Budapest’s prestigious Rózsadomb neighborhood, Gül Baba Street is a steep cobblestoned lane leading up to the octagonal tomb of 16th-century Turkish holy man Gül Baba, who died here in 1541. This panoramic Islamic pilgrimage point is currently closed to visitors due to ongoing renovations of the monumental mausoleum, and the project includes the freshly started renewal of Gül Baba Street, as well. While this beautifully tattered Mediterranean-style street has long been neglected, we hope that the historic walkway will retain its rustic ambience when it reopens later this year.

Found in Buda’s District II, a picturesque parkland is centered by the Turkish-style tomb of Gül Baba, a dervish poet who is oftentimes referred to as the “Father of Flowers” based on the meaning of his name. Revered as an Islamic holy place in the Hungarian capital, the mausoleum is a quiet pilgrimage site for religious communities, while this semi-hidden landmark is a cherished hangout for locals as well, especially for its panoramic lookout found near the grave that provides far-reaching views over Pest’s cityscape.

Photo: Tamás Kőrösi / We Love Budapest

Visitors often approach this elevated landmark along the steep stairways of Gül Baba Street, a charming lane rising up the hill from Buda’s bustling Frankel Leó Road; the winding walkway has long been considered as a semi-hidden path for starry-eyed couples on a romantic date. However, in recent decades the mausoleum and its surrounding area became rather dilapidated, including the precipitous path that leads to the tomb; while this serene lane was perfect for taking pictures (and even served as a filming location for The Rite, a mystery movie starring Anthony Hopkins), the crumbling cobblestones of Gül Baba Street had become a physical challenge to traverse. However, a few years ago renovations kicked off to preserve the Islamic landmark and its surroundings, and during this process Gül Baba’s Tomb has been closed to visitors for a long while now, as city officials are making plans to eventually reopen the holy site complete with a café, museum, and community areas, according to earlier news reports on the Hungarian website turizmus.com. Nonetheless, the pathway curving towards the sacred site had been left untouched until recently.

Photo: László Balkányi / We Love Budapest

At last, renovations have started in the surrounding neighborhood, as Gül Baba Street’s medieval-style stones are now temporarily replaced by a dirt road, and instead of starry-eyed couples, modern machines are hard at work here. Even though developing this area into a less accident-prone zone was absolutely needed, and we are happy to see this fascinating city site get a makeover, many Budapest residents fear that installing new pavement will erase the historic charm that the cobbled pathway provided for decades – but we contacted the project’s contractor, the Hungarian National Asset Management Inc., to ask them about plans for the new surface, and they confirmed that the new paving blocks will be similar to the historic stones.

 

Meanwhile, according to a signboard installed at the construction site, Gül Baba Street is planned to reopen to traffic on November 15th, and the official handover of the lane is on December 15th – we will report back with an update when this historic street is ready to welcome walkers again.