I recently visited Budapest for a long weekend away and I will have to admit that I spent more time relaxing in the baths at Gellert and Szechenyi and drinking local beers than taking in the city’s heritage. However, we did visit Margaret Island, Varosliget City Park and Buda where on the last day we stumbled across the Labyrinth of Budavar, nestled among some unassuming houses on a quiet street. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit the labyrinths (our flight home was looming) but we took a look inside up to the point where you had to hand over money. The cave (which were reminiscent of the caves of Edinburgh’s underground but with much less alcohol, music, sticky floors (sticky everything) and dancing/drunkenness) that we saw was a ‘taster’ for those to come and contained a plaque giving a brief history. The plaque was what inspired me to write this post.
There is one problem. I didn’t take a photo or a leaflet from the cave plaque! So, I began searching for some of the information that the plaque contained to try to compose a blog post about it. The plaque contained essentially exactly what I want to do in life. It combined the geology of the surrounding area and the formation of the cave systems (which I was amazed to discover were completely natural) with the archaeological history of the cave uses through time and eventually leading to the way in which the cave system was made into a museum. I made a mental note at the time to look for more information on the caves and the surrounding geology when I got back home.
Unfortunately, the amount of online material about the geology of Hungary is extremely low, the two main sites with any general overview being http://waterfire.fas.is/Hungary/GeologyofHungary.php and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Geology_of_Hungary. Neither I feel are very comprehensive or necessarily trustworthy sources. I was amazed, as even the Geological Survey of Hungary has little comprehensive overviews to offer on the country. In comparison to when ‘geology of Britain’ is typed into Google, this is shocking!
I began to look for information on the caves themselves and to see if the official site for the labyrinth had any links to some external geology sites. This time I found something even more interesting. Budavari Labyrinthus, the apparently official site for the Buda Castle caves says that the labyrinth is closed permanently. So where were we?
Unfortunately the website also has little on the geology of the area but has a nice summary of the history of the caves along with maps and pictures. They look extremely similar to where we were, but the place we were in was most definitely open and admitting visitors. I read somewhere that there are ‘imitation’ caves around the area and it is easy to get led into these thinking they are the ‘real’ Buda Castle labyrinths but honestly I find it all a bit suspicious.
So, I decided to write a blog post anyway, and ask any readers whether they have any knowledge of the geology of Hungary and if they can help solve the mystery of the Buda Castle Caves. I will keep searching too and if I find anything interesting I will post it here!