A religious notion I’ve never had. I contently live my secular life without the burden of weekly rituals of devotion. But even the most unshakable atheist cannot gainsay the tranquil splendor inside God’s house. Civilized man worships his god in elaborate architectural masterpieces. The Vatican, Notre Dame, The Sacred Mosque, The Golden Pavilion, and many other religious structures attract hordes of reverent worshipers and ogling tourists alike. The attention is well deserved. These structures are magnificent, both to look at and to be in. But not until my visit to Cave Church in Budapest did I understand the real allure of these places of worship. Located in Buda, near the top of Gellért Hill, sits the Church of St. Istvan. Rather than build an outwardly ostentatious structure, the chapel was created from St. Istvan’s hermit hole—a cave, literally. All the ominous and dark figures of Catholicism are present and still emanate that oppressive and protective air. But without the fabricated walls and symmetrically arranged displays, the effect is almost pagan. Nature is inescapable here. The contrast is delightful. Tourists are not allowed to attend services (offered only in Hungarian anyway). But I urge the pious and apathetic alike to find a pew and find your place in this religious world, where God and Mother Nature enjoy peaceful coexistence. If the dark cave is not to your liking, take your prayers outside. A marvelous view of Pest across the Danube River will bring out the spiritual dreamer in anyone. As if Hungary doesn’t offer its visitors ample comforts—the Hungarian baths, warm goulash, convivial people, and the Green Bridge Hostel (also a must)—you can sooth your soul here as well. A lovely country, torn by war and Communism, managed to warm my belly, my body, and my spirit.
By: Allison McCormick