We must rise to the greatness of the age of Gül Baba
09. 10. 2018.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that the 16th-century poet Gül Baba was a representative of a heroic era when “the great sons of our nations fought one another”. The heroism of the battles with their varying outcomes, he said, is a reminder of the two nations’ greatness, and an admonition that today we must rise to that level of greatness.

The Prime Minister was inaugurating a complex incorporating the Tomb of Gül Baba, in the company of President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

At the ceremony the Prime Minister highlighted that in Turkey historical sites with links to Hungary are preserved in a fitting manner, and the agreement for the two countries’ joint restoration of the Tomb of Gül Baba is a recognition of this.

He said that Turkey is proud of its history and its built heritage outside its present-day borders, and that it researches and preserves remnants from its past – as strong and confident nations are accustomed to doing. Hungarians understand this, he said, because a considerable part of their cultural heritage is also now found outside its borders: they are proud of that heritage, and they preserve and renovate it whenever they can. He added that this is why the two countries have jointly restored the Tomb of Gül Baba, and why they have jointly inaugurated it.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Mr. Orbán highlighted that in 1914 the tomb was listed as a historic monument to be preserved, that many Turks have paid homage there, and that it has also been treasured by the citizens of Budapest. He said that the history of the structure – like that of Hungary – has been one of vicissitudes, but it has now regained its former glory.

He also pointed out that after the 1848–49 Revolution and War many Hungarian freedom fighters were banished from their country and found refuge in Turkey. In World War I, he added, Hungarians and Turks fought side by side as allies.

The Prime Minister expressed his wish for the building and its surrounding garden to be enjoyed by both Turks and Hungarians as a place for reflection, spiritual renewal and friendly encounters.

Mr. Orbán thanked those who took part in the restoration project for their work, and the Turkish President for supporting the initiative and for coming to Hungary for the inauguration ceremony.

The Turkish head of state stressed that, inspired by Gül Baba, measures will be enacted in order to strengthen Hungarian-Turkish friendship – not only in the field of culture, but also in that of economic relations.

He said that there is no one in Hungary who is not familiar with the story of Gül Baba, who died 477 years ago on the hill where his tomb came to be built. Despite the intervening years since, Mr. Erdoğan said, he has not been forgotten, and the values that he stood for – such as courage, self-sacrifice, a sense of justice and respect – have become important symbols.

Mr. Erdoğan stressed that Gül Baba is immortalised in respect, understanding and friendship between different cultures. He pointed out that, thanks to the respect and love he enjoys in Turkey and Hungary, his memory, name and wisdom will live on in the beautiful garden in which his tomb is set.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

He said that preserving Gül Baba’s spiritual heritage also involves the task of preserving the tomb for generations to come. He stated that during restoration of the monument, the adjoining structures and the garden, tradition had been successfully combined with modernity.

The President of Turkey pointed out that the tomb is not the only monument in Hungary which serves as a reference to the two countries’ shared past. He observed that there are many such monuments, and that Mr. Orbán deserves thanks for Hungary’s preservation of them. Hitherto Turkey has supported this work, he said, and it will also provide every assistance in the future.

Mr. Erdoğan said that the roots of cooperation between Turks and Hungarians are indebted to the ideals of Gül Baba, while the tomb brings blessings and good fortune to the Hungarian people, and will further strengthen friendship between the two peoples.

At the inauguration ceremony Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament Mihály Varga said that the Tomb of Gül Baba is a unique historical and architectural monument, and an important sacral and art historical treasure which has a prominent place in Budapest’s architectural heritage. He described the reconstruction project as timely, the work carried out as thorough and carefully considered, and the resulting complex as having been been executed to the highest standards.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

In his opinion the community space that has been created is a worthy ornament of the district and the capital, and may become a sought after tourist destination.

The Minister spoke warmly of Hungarian-Turkish relations, saying that the exemplary cooperation between the two countries is also visible in the renovation and preservation of historical sites.

The Tomb of Gül Baba is a Turkish tomb built in the 16th century on Budapest’s Rózsadomb. Gül Baba, known in Hungary as “the Father of Roses”, was a Bektashi dervish – a warrior Muslim ascetic – who arrived in Buda in 1541 with the occupying Turkish troops. Legend has it that he died on 2 September 1541: the day of thanksgiving for the occupation of the city.

Pursuant to an agreement between Hungarian National Asset Management Zrt. (MNV Zrt.) and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), Turkey contributed more than three million euros (HUF 930 million) to the restoration of the Tomb of Gül Baba, and its immediate and wider surroundings.