Another little oddity in Budapest is the Cave Church. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a church, in a cave.
Saint Ivan’s Cave (Szent Iván-barlang) is named after a hermit who lived there and healed people. The church was founded in 1926, by a group of Pauline monks after a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.
Originally, the altar was located at the entrance of the cave and the congregation sat outdoors on the terrace.
This is why Cave Church is known as Sziklatemplom (‘Rock Church’ or ‘Church by the Rock’) in Hungarian. Expansion of the cave and structural reinforcement followed throughout the 1930s.
During World War II, the church served as a hospital and asylum. After WWII, the monks were arrested and their superior, father Ferenc Vezér, was sentenced to death by the new Communist regime.
In 1951, the church entrance was completely sealed with a thick concrete wall. A part of the wall can still be seen by the entrance.
The church finally reopened in 1991, was restored and given back to the Pauline monks and it continues to serve as a church to this day.