Tomb of Gül Baba

Tomb of Gül BabaBudapestGreater Budapest

The Tomb of Gül Baba is a monument located in Buda near Margaret Island that dates from the time of the Turkish occupation. This is the most remote sacred site of Islamic culture north of the Ottoman Empire, and the only functioning Muslim pilgrimage destination in the territory of Christian Europe. 

Gül Baba (Father of Roses) was named after the rose worn on his turban. The roses he cultivated were famed for their beauty, even in faraway lands. He needed this good PR indeed, as all of this was just a supposition. According to tradition, the Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) of Budapest also received its name after Gül Baba, as the dervish created a large terraced rose garden on the South-Eastern slope of the Buda Hills. As a member of one of the priestly orders (the Bektashi dervish order) of Islam, he preached the Quran serving a long succession of Sultans. Gül Baba was a kindly dervish of noble character, who was wounded during the siege of Buda Castle and later died in Matthias Church, which he had turned into a mosque (place of worship). The tomb over his grave was built by the third Pasha of Buda.

 

Buda was liberated and the Turks were expelled by the united European armies in 1686, and the Tomb of Gül Baba was transferred to the ownership of the Jesuit Order, who wanted to ‘Christianise’ it to better suit their taste. After the disbandment of the Order, the lot went to a private proprietor and was later purchased by architect János Wagner in 1861, who, over the course of twenty years starting in the middle of the 1880's, built his villa, intended to be a family vacation home, around it. The next significant event in the history of the Tomb took place in 1914, when it was declared a monument and its renovation began. During the excavation led by anthropologist Lajos Bartucz, the skeleton of a 164 centimetre tall, presumably stocky man was found in the middle of the Tomb, which was identified as the remains of Gül Baba. The walls of the Warner villa surrounding the Tomb protected it during the bombing raids of World War II. Restoration works commenced at the beginning of the 1960s, based on the plans of Egon Pfannl. A lookout point was constructed around the Tomb in the 70's. 

After a bout of continuous dilapidation, another renovation began on the Tomb in the 1990's. Since its last restoration in 2018, the former Turkish cemetery is represented by a tombstone copy with twelve turbans; as part of this project, a lavender and a magnolia garden were also added to the rose garden. During the reconstruction, an exhibition space comprising several rooms was also created in the basement of the colonnade, and a real Turkish café now also operates here. The exhibition presents Gül Baba’s story and the world of dervishes, as well as the role of the Ottoman Turks in Hungarian history, illustrated through a few objects from the era displayed as well as a diorama. The building of the tomb itself is octagonal, roofed by a lead-covered dome with its entrance facing east. Its only ornament is a row of ogee-lancet bricks, and a wooden coffin decorated with a turban is found inside. The lookout bastion affords a stunning view over the city. Under the southern lookout bastion stands an old chestnut tree, which is said to have been planted by architect János Wagner while he was building his villa around the Tomb at the end of the 1800's. Since the site is famous, not only for its monument status and its Islamic rituals, but also for its truly beautiful roses, it is worth visiting during the spring and summer seasons, when its well-kept rose bushes are in bloom and fragrant.
 

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