Underground caves which are located under the ancient castle district of Budapest were open to public until 2011, when police raided the labyrinth and locked the doors. The reason behind this move stays hidden.
Rushing thermal waters carved the stones of these underground caves. More than half a million years ago these were used as shelter by prehistoric men.
UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized it as exceptional urban landscape in 1987. The passages and chambers spread over 1200 meters (4000 feet) and are nearly 16 meters (53 feet) under the ground. Ten halls are surrounded by five separate twisting labyrinths.
Throughout the history, ancient Roman city Aquincum was settled between Buda on one side and Pest on the other. After the city of Pest was devastated in 1241 by the Mongol invasion of Hungary, it was rebuilt and King Bela IV constructed the castle of Buda above the ancient chambers.
The caves were used for food storage, water supply and as shelter during the war.
The caves were rediscovered in the 1930s. Bones, artifacts and remains were discovered.
Legends and caves
It is believed that the chambers were used during the Ottoman occupation. Several female skeletons were found in the depths of the tunnels and it is believed that they were thrown down when the Turks were forced out of the castle.
It is also believed that the caves were used as prison or for torture. The stories even include torture of Vlad Tepes, also known as Dracula. Based on a local legend, Vlad Tepes was betrayed by the Hungarian King Matthias and was imprisoned under the Castle of Buda around 1462. After his release, he became a vicious ruler who tortured, murdered and impaled his victims on spikes. It is said that he was buried in the caves.
Visitors can observe strange figures, ancient art, symbols, wells and fountains, and stone humanoids. There is even a hidden chamber where wine is poured from a vine-covered fountain. King Matyas Corvinus takes credit for this because he continued the construction of the massive royal palace. It is said that his wife Beatrice poisoned him so visitors are often dared to taste the wine. Shaman with Two Faces is one of the impressive humanoid statues in the tunnels.
Many people who visited Budapest wanted to explore this enigmatic labyrinth. Unfortunately, police evacuated everyone and sealed the doors on July 29, 2011. It was believed that the reason behind this move was an emergency or a terrorist attack.
After this incident, the labyrinth caretakers were trying to get an explanation. They were not allowed to return to caves and all personnel were replaced.
Apparently, visitors can still visit the maze and tours are being organized. However, the reason why the police unexpectedly evacuated and sealed the caves is still a mystery.