The Citadella – Budapest, Hungary

Aerial photo of the Citadela located in Budapest
Budapest Citadella, perched on Gellert Hill in the Buda area, is a majestic fortress that offers panoramic views of the entire city. This iconic landmark has a rich history and has become a popular tourist attraction in Budapest. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating story of the Citadella, explore its attractions, and provide practical information for visiting this historic site.

History of the Citadella

The construction of the Citadella began in 1850 and was completed in 1854. It was commissioned by the Habsburgs, a powerful European dynasty, following the Hungarian uprising against the Austrian Empire in 1848. Emmanuel Zitta and Ferenc Kasselik, Hungarian architects, designed the fortress as a means of controlling the population of Budapest and suppressing potential uprisings.

Initially, the Austrians stationed their garrison in the Citadella. However, with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the fortress lost its significance and was repurposed as barracks and a hospital. In 1942, a bunker was constructed within the Citadella, which now serves as a museum showcasing exhibitions on World War II.

Attractions in the Citadella

Liberty Statue Budapest

Statue of Liberty

As you approach the Citadella, you will be greeted by the magnificent Statue of Liberty. This 40-meter tall statue of a woman holding a palm branch symbolizes liberty and has become an iconic symbol of Budapest. The Statue of Liberty is a must-see attraction that embodies the spirit of the city.

Tourists taking pictures of sights part of Budapest walking tours

Observation Deck

One of the main highlights of the Citadella is its observation deck, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Budapest. From this vantage point, you can admire the beauty of both Buda and Pest, as well as the majestic Danube River and its eight stunning bridges. Whether you visit during the day or night, the view from the observation deck is sure to leave you spellbound.

Museum of Wax Figures and Bunker

Within the Citadella, you can explore the Museum of Wax Figures, which provides a captivating glimpse into Hungary’s involvement in World War II. The museum houses a collection of photographs, documents, and other artifacts that shed light on the country’s history during this tumultuous period. Additionally, the bunker itself offers a unique experience, taking you back in time with its realistic wax statues depicting scenes from World War II.

Exploring Gellert Hill

Gellert Hill, on which the Citadella is situated, offers more than just the fortress itself. There are several other attractions worth exploring in this area:

  • The Cave Church: Nestled within the hill, the Cave Church is a hidden gem, known for its tranquil atmosphere and beautiful interior. It is a place of worship as well as a popular tourist site.
  • Gellert Thermal Baths: Located nearby, the Gellert Thermal Baths are renowned for their healing properties. Take a dip in the warm waters and relax in the stunning surroundings.
  • Garden of Philosophy: This serene garden is home to various monuments and sculptures, each representing different philosophical concepts. It is the perfect place for contemplation and reflection.
Sunrise Aerial Photo of Citadella Budapest

How to Get to the Citadella

To reach the Citadella, you can make use of Budapest’s efficient tram system. The nearest tram stops are Szent Gellert ter M and Rudas Gyogyfurdő. From these stops, you will need to ascend Gellert Hill to reach the fortress. The paths leading up the hill are well-marked and offer a pleasant walk amidst nature.

Practical Information

The Citadella is open to the public year-round. The museum in the bunker operates from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm (May to September) and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (October to April). Admission to the Citadella is free, but visiting the museum exposition requires a ticket priced at 3600 Hungarian forints.


What is the Citadella in Budapest?

The Citadella is a fortress located on top of Gellért Hill in Budapest, Hungary. It was built in the mid-19th century by the Habsburg dynasty as a strategic military point. Today, it's a popular tourist spot due to the panoramic views it offers of the city.

What can I see and do at the Citadella?

Visitors can explore the historic fortress, see several statues and monuments (including the Liberty Statue), and enjoy the panoramic views of Budapest. There's also a restaurant and souvenir shop at the Citadella.

How do I get to the Citadella?

You can reach the Citadella by public transport (bus), by foot, or by taxi. The walk up to Gellért Hill is quite steep, but there are several walking paths leading up to the top.

Is there an entrance fee to visit the Citadella?

Access to the Citadella and its outdoor areas is generally free. However, there may be an entrance fee for certain exhibitions or events.

How much time should I plan for a visit to the Citadella?

A visit to the Citadella can take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on how much time you spend exploring the area and enjoying the views.

Are there restaurants or cafes at the Citadella?

Yes, there is at least one restaurant located within the Citadella, where you can enjoy food and drinks with a view of the city.

Is the Citadella suitable for children?

Yes, the Citadella is suitable for children. However, due to its hilltop location and steep paths, care should be taken when visiting with young children.