CASTLE HILL HISTORY
Our ancestors have used these caves for hundreds of thousands of years.
350,000-years old stone tools of the Homo erectus, from the same age as the Vértesszolos archaeological discovery, were found in the caves. It is likely, that for prehistoric Homo sapiens it also served as a refuge and home.
In the 11th to 12th century, people who lived here used the caves for water accumulation, building vents and wells. Their houses were also built in line with the cave-wells.
Buda became a thriving royal city and its residents did not only use the caves for water supply, but for storage of goods, like wine and food. To this end, they carved passageways between small caves, and used the stone mined for construction of buildings on the surface.
The cave cellars served as a refuge during frequent fires and times of war. There are many myths from the Middle Ages about the caves. For example, the Turks buried treasures in the caves, the Pasha of Buda bricked up zenana women he was bored with, and also of ghosts inhabitating the caves. Over time, the caves were forgotten, but were rediscovered because of the rapid development of Buda. Streets caved in, building wall were ruptured because of the caves beneath, so at that time the authorities decided to fill the caves with trash and debris.
THE FIRST EXPLORERS
The systematic research of the caves only began during the 1930s, with the guidance of Kadic Ottokar. He noted, that while most cave cellar were constructed, they are in fact of natural origin. In 1935, part of the cave cellars under the Town Hall, Trinity Square and Úri Street were made visitable, under the name Castle Hill Cave.
In the following years, a permament exhibition on the bones found in the cave was opened, and a speleological collection was created. More cave cellars were opened up, and a circular path was formed.
WORLD WAR II. AND THE BUDA CASTLE SECRET SHELTER
During World War II the caves for used as a shelter. Even more caves were connected into the system, their roofs strenghtened against air raids. This is how the cave system known as the Great Labyrinth formed. The Hospital in the Rock was also established during this period. The siege damaged the entrance of the Great Labyrinth, while the exhibition material disappeared after it. During the 1950s, because of the Cold War situation, top secret new shelter building was carried out, this work again extended the Labyrinth, forming a more than 4 kilometres long maze. The Hungarian Karst and Cave Research Society succeeded in opening the Great Labyrinth with its original entrance in 1961. A Cave Science Museum was built, with the Budapest History Museum providing the room for it. The museum has not agreed to further co-operate in 1965, so the museum exhibition was terminated..
REOPENING OF THE LABYRINTH
After 1965, the Society built a new entrance for the caves at Úri Street 9, and a new exhibition was created, primarily showing the tangible relics of the medieval royal castle ruins. This exhibition featured gothic castle gates from the 13-14th century, a gate made during the era of King Sigismund (13-14th century), or even Turkish columns, baroque walls and a wine cellar.
The Domino Castle Cave Pantomine Club was allowed in 1983 to create a historical waxworks show in the caves. The enterprise operated under the name Buda Castle Labyrinth Exhibition, but in 1996 it ceased to exist, because the exhibition materials were damaged by the humid air of the cave.
MAP OF THE LABYRINTH IN THE CASTLE DISTRICT