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Garden of Philosophy

On the less visited western part of Gruber József Cistern, there is a sculpture group called the “Garden of Philosophy”. It plays an important role in the cultural life of the hill not only as a visual experience but also for the message it is meant to convey.

The sculpture group unveiled in 2001 was made of bronze and granite by Nándor Wagner. The artist, who migrated to Sweden after the Revolution of 1956 and later to Japan, introduced the gypsum models to the public in 1985 offering one (out of three) to his former home country. His death in 1997 prevented him to fulfill his dream, however, according to his last will, his Japanese widow facilitated his donation. The composition was placed in a park on Gellért Hill in 2001.

The writing at the entrance says “For a better mutual understanding”. As this motto suggests the sculpture group is meant to symbolize tolerance and peace displaying key figures of world religions. The sculptures arranged in a circle include the sculpture of Echnaton, Jesus, Buddha, Lao-ce and Abraham with a shining globe in the middle representing a common deity as a link between religions. Behind the circular arrangement sculptures of Mahatma Gandhi, Buddhist monk Bodhidharma and St. Francis of Assisi were placed. They are persons who reached spiritual revelation and followed moral guidelines of their religion throughout their life as well as were committed to pass these values on to others.

Nándor Wagner wrote his thoughts on the philosophical background of his sculptures as follows: „It is universal human teaching that links these 5 persons. Actually, these five make up the immaterial and invisible One. The name of the One varies by culture. The One is the source of cultures.” Wagner devoted the last 15 years of his life to create this sculpture group. His concept was to make sculptures of figures whose life and work is a universal standard for many. He planned to extend the Garden by making additional sculptures, however, it was prevented by his death. As the last piece of his artistry only Socrates’ head was completed.

When another of his sculptures (“Mother Earth”) was unveiled in 2012 the mission of the sculpture group was also mentioned in the inauguration speech: „Not for an order, not for a more comfortable life, not for decorating a square and not for pleasing others but for a better mutual understanding. Teaching sculpture group this is! A pilgrimage site and meditation spot, a sanctuary of human reconciliation.”

In 2007, three sculptures disappeared from the garden. Restoration was facilitated by the artist’s widow, who lent the molds of the figures for recasting. The composition has been complete again since 2010.

Further information on Nándor Wagner’s life and work at