Budapest is a city with the richest of histories. It has grand buildings, a beautiful river and a rich cultural heritage widely recognised by UNESCO, but has also played host to some of the grimmer events of the 20th century. All that may get people doing some deep thinking, so where better to go than the city’s Garden of Philosophy?
Located on Gellert Hill and created by sculptor Nandor Wagner, the centrepiece of the garden is a monument that consists of a ring of black marble raised above a small pavement of the same material. On it are five figures – Abraham, Echnaton, Jesus, Buddha and Lao Tse, representing the five biggest religions in the world. Standing around this monument are three more figures: Mahatma Gandhi, Daruma Taishi and Saint Francis, men who have come to be regarded as having great cultural and spiritual influence even though they came from different times and backgrounds. The aim of the monument is to demonstrate the development of humanity and also to aim at better mutual understanding. The statues were created three times over, with the Hungarian set being unveiled in 2001 and the other two going to Japan and the US.
Visitors coming to the garden can sit and think, reflect on the world and many things, while taking a break from what might be a hectic city tour. Being located on Gellert Hill, the garden is close to a number of other monuments, as well as lots of other green space. The choice of the hill for the monument is not coincidental, as it was named after Bishop Gellert, who was killed when thrown from its cliffs by pagans in 1046. It also offers one of the most panoramic views across Budapest. There is a statue of the bishop and another feature of the hill is the Habsburg Citadel, which was built after their victory in the Hungarian war of independence in 1849. As a place with a tumultuous history and fine views over a city where so much has happened down the years, the garden is well located. It is a place of peace, reflection, and a desire for a better world.