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Geotope

Basalt organ pipes (Szent György-hegy/Szent György Hill)

Geotope · Lake Balaton · open
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  • Organ pipes
    / Organ pipes
    Photo: Áron Dömsödi, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Organ pipes along the Blue Trail
    Photo: Péter Farkas, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Organ pipes along the Blue Trail
    Photo: Áron Dömsödi, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Szent György Hill with organ pipes
    Photo: Péter Farkas, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Organ pipes
    Photo: Áron Dömsödi, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Organ pipes along the Blue Trail
    Photo: Péter Farkas, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Mysterious steps
    Photo: Péter Farkas, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / Organ pipes
    Photo: Áron Dömsödi, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • / View from the top of organ pipes
    Photo: Áron Dömsödi, Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
If giants had the fancy idea to build a pipe organ, probably, their creation would be just like the black and chimney-like basalt columns of Szent György-hegy.

Hiding in the dense forest some of the dark basalt columns rise even to a height of 30 meters with a maximum diameter of 1.5 meters. But what is that accounts for this unique formation?

These statues of geology were born as children of volcanic activity in the Tapolca Basin. The 3.3-year-old Szent György-hegy is one of the buttes in the basin as another memento of basalt lava flow. Basalt lava has a low viscosity, due to its low silica content, resulting in rapid lava flows that can spread over great areas before cooling and solidification. The solid lava forms a protective cap that resists erosion thereby maintaining and demonstrating surface level (Hungarian for “butte” is “tanúhegy” meaning “witness hill”).

The organ pipes, however, are evidence that even the hard basalt cap can erode. While cooling, the rock mass shrank causing tension inside. Vertical tension could be accommodated by the elastic molten rock beneath but horizontal tension could not be relieved and so the basalt fractured into vertically standing columns, predominantly hexagonal in cross-section. Later post-volcanic heat changes and water took over the main role. Water freezing in cracks as well as changes in temperature further contribute to an extensive fracture network. These cracks kept growing and reached deeper and deeper. Basalt debris at the feet of the columns are telltale signs that this process is a currently ongoing.

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Áron Dömsödi
Updated: March 01, 2021

Public transport

  • Tapolca is accessible by trains running along the northern side of Balaton or by coach.
  • Train stationNemesgulács-Kisapáti” lies along Tapolca-Székesfehérvár line.
  • Coming by bus from Tapolca or Szigliget get off at “Kisapáti, dűlőút”.
  • You may start from bus stop “Kisapáti, autóbusz-váróterem”, too.
  • Coming from Tapolca get off at bus stop “Raposka, bejárati út”.

Getting there

  • From Tapolca downtown or coach station follow the Blue (K) Trail (Total distance: 5.5/4.8 km, elevation gain: 280/200 m).
  • From Tapolca railway station follow the Red (P) markers to get there the quickest (unless you are covering the Blue Trail) (Total distance: 5.2 km, elevation gain: 235 m)
  • From bus stop “Kisapáti, dűlőút” head north along the Blue (K) and Red (P) trails. Cross the vineyards and change to the Yellow (S) trail at Lengyel Chapel to the right. It skirts the hill eastward. Change to the Blue (K) trail at Kaán Károly hikers’ lodge to the left (Total distance: 3.4 km, elevation gain: 235 m).
  • From “Nemesgulács-Kisapáti” train station take the Green (Z) trail and change to the Blue (K) trail at Kaán Károly hikers’ lodge (Total distance: 2.8 km, elevation gain: 210 m).
  • From bus stop “Raposka, bejárati út” follow the Green (Z) markers and change to the Blue (K) trail at the hikers’ lodge (Total distance: 1.9 km, elevation gain: 200 m).
  • From the parking lot near Raposka follow the Green (Z) markers and change to the Blue (K) trail at the hikers’ lodge (Total distance: 1 km, elevation gain: 80 m).

Parking

  • Follow the road exiting Raposka towards the hill among the vineyards and park your car at the end (free of charge).
  • Driving from Tapolca towards Kisapáti take the first dirt track on the right past Paptelep (farm buildings). Follow the Blue (K) Trail and park the car nearly at the hikers’ lodge.

Coordinates

DD
46.846133, 17.450426
DMS
46°50'46.1"N 17°27'01.5"E
UTM
33T 686825 5190981
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Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Routes to this place

Type
Name
Distance
Duration
Ascent
Descent
9.2 km
3:00 h
484 m
484 m
48.4 km
15:00 h
1,913 m
1,752 m
57 km
13:00 h
1,982 m
1,982 m
17.1 km
5:00 h
395 m
405 m
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Basalt organ pipes (Szent György-hegy/Szent György Hill)

Special features

Place to visit Families
  • 2D 3D
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  • 4 Routes nearby
Top easy open
9.2 km
3:00 h
484 m
484 m

Panoramic loop trail on Szent György-hegy, an extraordinary butte with basalt columns, 4 beautiful chapels at the bottom of the hill, Kaán Károly ...

from Szilárd Dr. Szentes,   Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
Hiking Trail · Lake Balaton
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Top difficult
48.4 km
15:00 h
1,913 m
1,752 m

Egy túra ami körbekerüli a Tapolcai-medence tanúhegyeit és nevezetességeit. Akár egy levegővel akár több részletben.

from Márton Leitold,   Outdooractive Editors
Endurance Hike · Lake Balaton
BALATONTÚRA Tanúhegyek - Tanúhegyek 50
57 km
13:00 h
1,982 m
1,982 m

A Tanúhegyek teljesítménytúra leghosszabb távján igen alaposan megismerkedhetünk a Balaton-felvidékkel. Sorra megmásszuk a Badacsonyt, a Tóti ...

from Viktor Szőke,   Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
Hiking Trail · Balaton-medence
Tapolca - Badacsonytördemic (OKT-05.)
Top easy Stage 5 open
17.1 km
5:00 h
395 m
405 m

„How much peace and delight and how much to see and learn this land provides…” – wrote geologist Róbert Reichert in 1936. And yes, this is an ...

13
from Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség,   Magyar Természetjáró Szövetség
  • 4 Routes nearby
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