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Gay Budapest

Gül Baba's tomb:

     On Mecset (mosque) Street, Budapest, a short, steep walk from Margaret Bridge in Rózsadomb. Built between 1543 and 1548, on the orders of the third pasha of Buda during the Ottoman era, it has a shallow dome covered with lead plates and wood tiles. After Holy League armies captured Buda in 1686, it was converted it into "St. Joseph's Chapel" by the Jesuits. Muslim pilgrims continued to visit from the Ottoman Empire. In 1885, the tomb was restored, in 1914 declared a national monument and is today the property of the Republic of Turkey.

     Gül Baba, called "Father of Roses" who died in 1541, was an Ottoman Bektashi dervish poet and companion of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during military campaigns in Europe. The Bektashi, now a Sufi order combining many Sunni, Shi'a and Sufi concepts, were very influencial in the Balkan districts of the Ottoman Empire and their practices included the veneration of an experienced spiritual guide, called a baba. They had close ties to the Ottoman Janissaries, an elite corps of conscripts taken as pre-adolescent boys from Christian families under the devşirme system, and converted to Islam. During the early, most vigorous years of the institution, these highly disciplined army troops were not permitted to marry or to grow beards, but expected to eat, sleep, fight and die together, as a brotherhood, with the Sultan as their father.

Museums of Budapest:

     The Hungarian National Gallery, has a fine collection of medieval and Renaisance stone carvings, Gothic panel paintings and wooden sculptures, works by Mihály Munkácsy & László Paál, and paintings from the Late Renaissance and Baroque periods to 19th and early 20th Century works.

     The Hungarian National Museum, considered the greatest work of Hungarian Classicism, has a large permanent collection of ancient artifacts, books, photographs, coins and documents, amassed over a period of 200 years. Opened in 1847, a masterpiece of Mihály Pollack, the building stood at that time among cabbage fields and stables of Pest. The dome is a smaller reproduction of the Pantheon in Rome, but without an opening. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and writers of Society Kisfaludy gathered here in the early days; concerts were performed, and even agricultural shows took place, complete with wandering stray cattle. From 1848 until 1904, the building served as seat of the upper house of Parliament. Gardens surrounding the museum are the venue for the Museum Festival each May, involving over 100 Hungarian museums.

     The Museum Aquincum, displays remains of the Roman ancient town of Aquincum. Opened in 1894,it has a collection of some half million objects and murals, revealing about a third of the town, including the public baths.

     The Museum of Applied Arts, the most famous work of Odon Lechner in the szecesszió style - Art Nouveau or Jugendstil elsewhere, has a distinctive dome of Zsolnay ceramics, easily seen from afar. Originally decorated with flower paintings, most inner walls of the museum were repainted white in the 1920's as fashion tastes changed. Ottoman-Turkish carpets and a widely eclectic variety of items and antiques from private collections are among the permanent exhibits. See also the Postal Savings Bank building, considered to be the best of Lechner's works.

     The Museum of Fine Arts in Heroes' Square, (Dózsa György Way 41), has a collection of more than 100,000 pieces, representing all periods of European art, Ancient Egyptian, Classical Antiquitiies, and the paintings, drawings and prints of Old Masters.

Spas of Budapest:

     The Romans built their settlement Aquincum in the 1st century to take advantage of thermal springs in the area. Ruins of their huge baths can still be seen today. During 140 years of Ottoman rule after 1541, many more baths were constructed, a few of which remain in use, Király Baths and Rudas Baths among them. Besides their important function as places for social gatherings and ritual cleansing there were other recreational aspects to these hammams. Young male attendants (tellaks) were available for sex as well as for washing and massaging clients. The Dellakname-i-Dilküşa (The Record of Tellaks) describes the services, prices, and the beauty of these tellaks, even detailing the number of times they could could bring a client to orgasm. A later, often-repeated story tells of two divisions of Janissaries who battled in the streets of an Ottoman city, after the tellak lover of one soldier was snatched for the pleasure of another. Authorities hanged the unfortunate boy to end the dispute.

Alas, since May 2011 the Király Bath no longer has men-only days - every day is now men and women. What was for decades a major men's crusing area is no longer so.

     The famous Gellért Baths were built in 1918, on the site of a former Turkish era facility. The Széchenyi Baths, built 1913-1927, are the only “old” medicinal baths on the Pest side of the Danube - among the largest in Europe -  grand and bright, drawing on Roman, Greek and other traditions, with outdoor pools open year-round. For other area baths and pools see the website link below.