Gül Baba’s Turbeh: Budapest’s 16th Century Muslim Shrine Set For Refurbishment
Tamás Székely 2015.08.05.
The turbeh of Gül Baba in Budapest, one of the westernmost holy shrines of Muslims, is closed for archaeological excavation and refurbishment until late September, daily Magyar Nemzet said. Since the sight is the property of Turkey, an agreement on the work was signed by deputy prime ministers Zsolt Semjén of Hungary and Emrullah Isler of Turkey in February 2014.
The works are part of a complete refurbishment of the octagonal tomb, located close to the Danube on the Buda side of Hungary’s capital city, archaeologist Adrienn Papp of the Budapest History Museum said. The tomb, a major place of interest in Budapest, is visited by hundreds of Turkish tourists every year. During the last exploration in 1914, two skeletons were unearthed and it cannot be ruled out that now further ones will be brought to surface now, she said. The entire 2.5 billion forint (EUR 8.1m) project, jointly financed by the Hungarian and the Turkish governments, is scheduled to be completed by 2017 at the latest. Hungary is financing the revamp of the park surrounding the shrine while Turkey will take care of the reconstruction of the building and its immediate vicinity.
Gül Baba, also known as “the father of roses”, was a dedicated Turkish dervish, who introduced rose gardens in Hungary in the 16th century. A poet and soldier, he took part in several campaigns with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent before he died in 1541. The tomb itself was built by Mehmed Paşa, beylerbeyi of Buda, between 1543 and 1548 and has a shallow dome covered with lead plates and wooden tiles. It was left undamaged when the Christian armies led by the Habsburgs recaptured the area during the siege of Buda in 1686, but was converted into a Roman Catholic chapel by the Jesuits, who renamed it “St Joseph’s Chapel”.
The land later came under the ownership of János Wagner, who maintained the site and allowed access to Muslim pilgrims coming from the Ottoman Empire. In 1885, the Ottoman government commissioned a Hungarian engineer to restore the tomb and, when work was completed in 1914, it was declared a national monument. The tomb, in 1916, represented the farthest influence of the order of Bektashi dervishes and their ideology in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The site was restored again in the 1960s and ultimately in the 1990s and is now the property of the Republic of Turkey.