Budapest DIY Walking Tour
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
① Soviet War Memorial commemorates the Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Budapest (1944-1945). Quite contentious, often defaced, and is the last Soviet memorial standing in the city, as the rest have been carted off to Memento Park¹. Some say this memorial was placed at this specific location due to its proximity to the United States Embassy. Nicknamed Vladamir’s Middle Finger.
② Ronald Reagan Statue was erected on the centenary of the former U.S. president's birth to honor the important role the United States played in the collapse of communism. Specific location may be in response to ① above.
③ Former site of the Imre Nagy Statue (pronounced “Nadg” in Hungarian) honors the communist prime minister during the 1956 Revolution. The statue was erected on the centenary of his birth. He announced Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and appealed to the UN to recognize Hungary' as a neutral state. After the revolution was crushed by the Soviet Union he was given a show trial and executed. Note the symbolism (possibly crude) of a bridge representing the transition from communism to democracy with Nagy looking vaguely in the direction of democracy (Parliament Building). With the removal of the statue, I guess you can rewrite history (After all history is rewritten by the Viktor)
④ Ministry of Agriculture: Bullet holes in the southwest corner wall are a memorial to the civilian victims of the shootings on 25 October 1956 (the Hungarian Revolution). Two sculptures in front, The Reaper Lad (1956) & Female Agronomist (1954) are rare examples of artistic communist sculptures.
⑤ Statue of Francis II Rákóczi honors the Prince of Transylvania and leader of the unsuccessful Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1703-11. Today he is considered a national hero in Hungary.
⑥ The Flagpole is guarded by two soldiers during daytime, with a changing of the guard on the hour.
⑦ In Memoriam: 1956 Revolution is a below-ground space examining the events of 25 October 1956 – when soldiers opened fire on a peaceful crowd on the square killing hundreds.
⑧ Statue of Count Gyula Andrássy honors the Hungarian statesman who was Prime Minister (1867–1871) and subsequently Foreign Minister (1871–1879). His motto was "It is hard to promise, but it is easy to perform".
⑨ Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. Built in 1896 and is the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest. You are actually looking at the back of the building. Note that two flags are flown from Parliament, Hungary and Széklerland² . Tour the building via the Visitor Center (VC) to the North.
Note: An international competition was held to design the building, with the plans of the second and third place entries later realized in the form of the Ethnographic Museum and the Ministry of Agriculture (⑩ below and ④ above).
⑩ Museum of Ethnography: Constructed in1896 as the Palace of Justice and until 1945 served as the Supreme Court. No need to get too close, as this building is better viewed from afar. Note the: resemblance to the Reichstag³ in Berlin, the three horse driven Roman chariot (a “triga”),horse-driven and the court scene in the tympanum⁴.
⑪ Lapidarian⁵ in a below-ground space that was formerly a ventilation tunnel built to bring cool air into parliament. It now houses exhibits on the architecture of the parliament building and how this unique cooling system worked.
⑫ Kossuth Memorial is a reproduction of the original that was removed in 1950 by the communists and replaced with a statue of Kossuth pointing towards a brighter future, which was then removed in 2015. Lajos Kossuth was a journalist, statesman, and President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49.
⑬ István Tisza Statue honors the former prime minister of Hungary at the start of WWI. He was assassinated during the Chrysanthemum Revolution on 31 October 1918 - the same day that Hungary terminated its political union with Austria.
⑭ The White House was once the HQ of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. It now contains offices of the members of parliament. The first floor is made of stone, which does not compliment the rest of the building, which is quite modern. Also note the ominous entrance, which has two “rifle” slits. If you are bold enough, enter and examine the Aurél Bernáth mural, if not, admire the Margit Bridge built in 1876, prematurely destroyed by the retreating Germans in 1945 (killing over 600 civilians and German soldiers), rebuilt in 1947. Also, inspect the statue of jurist Kovacs Bela on the southwest corner.
⑮ Attila József Statue honors one of the best-known Hungarian poets. Hailed during the communist era of the 1950s as Hungary's great "proletarian poet". Artistically this may be the best statue in Kossuth Square.
⑯ The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial honoring Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross⁶ militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were then shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.
¹ Memento Park is an open-air museum in Budapest, dedicated to monumental statues from Hungary's Communist period (1949–1989)
² in support of the Székler people (ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania), after two Romanian counties, banned the display of the Székler flag
³ building that housed the German parliament from 1894-1933 and from 1999-present
⁴ the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window, bounded by a lintel and arch
⁵ is a place where stone monuments and fragments of archaeological interest are exhibited.
⁶ for more details visit The House of Terror
-The House of Terror (located about 2-3 miles from the parliament building) is a must see museum on the former fascist and communist regimes in Hungary.