Urban areas host several threatened species in small reserves that face habitat loss and fragmentation due to land-use change. Despite historical and current disturbances, these areas sometimes still maintain high biological diversity. As only 5% of the European Union territory was classified as natural, the permanent grasslands represent overriding value, especially in metropolitan areas. Our aim was to explore protected and adventive plant species in a small and valuable, but till now, not deeply studied area of the densely inhabited 12th district in the metropolitan city Budapest (Hungary), which is visited by large numbers of people. We compared various historical map sources in order to explain how the extension of the grasslands has changed during the past centuries and, thus, which patches are permanent grassland habitats. We found 29 protected and 1 strictly protected plant species. The highest number of protected plant species and their stands were found in the permanent grasslands. Besides urbanisation, a heavy load of tourism (especially on non-designated routes), off-road mountain biking, airsoft races, some illegal shelters for homeless people and game damage threaten this unique refuge of high natural values. The extension of grasslands between 1783 and 2016 varies from 6.7 ha to 21.5 ha. Their area constantly increased due to deforestation until 1867 and exceeded 20 ha, probably due to the mass increase in livestock grazing; then it stagnated until the 1920s, with a slight decrease due to expanding urban areas. Golf greens appeared, walker and skiing tourism increased and these apparently have not decreased the coverage of grasslands, but surely affected the composition of their species. Recent scrub encroachment and re-forestation caused a further decrease. Our distribution maps show the highest density of protected plant species on the southern slopes (2.4 hectare) that have constantly been grasslands since 1783 to date. Contrarily, the cutting of grasslands from 1861 to date contains only half of their number per area unit. Thus, the number of valuable plant specimens refers to the age of the grassland. Three species occur only in the oldest grasslands. Conservation actions should first and foremost focus on these patches.