Memento Park, The Remains of Communism in Budapest, Hungary - My Family Travels

It really wasn’t all that long ago that communism was alive and well in Eastern Europe.  Until 1989, Hungary was a communist country and only after many years of protest and struggle was the country eventually freed.

Budapest is a beautiful city with ornate architecture and is often called “Paris on the Danube.”  In the evening, the city’s buildings and bridges are shrouded in a soft, white light and its cathedrals and basilica are stunning.  But during communist occupation, Budapest was full of communist statues and propaganda.  Once the country was liberated, officials wondered what to do with the looming statues.

Instead of seeing them destroyed, authorities eventually placed almost all the statues in Memento Park, or Szoborpark, in a suburban area just outside the city.  It took a little time to get out to the park; we had to take a train to Deak Ter and then bus #49 to Etele ter terminus.  Our Budapest City Cards included free metro transportation, so it was easy to get around.

From there we were a little confused because we were at a bus station, which turned out not to be the one we needed.  We had to walk down a hill and take a right to find the correct station.  The next bus we needed to board wasn’t part of the metro system, and cost about $2.50 for a round-trip ticket. (Travel tip: There’s a direct bus to the park that leaves Deak Ter at 11am and returns at 1pm.  But check in advance on the times before you go).

A word to the wise. Ignore anyone trying to sell you a package or transportation to go see Statue Park. They’re not offering you anything of value and the $2.50 bus is perfectly comfortable and gets you to the park in 15-minutes.  It’s doubtful you’ll want to spend more than a half-hour or so at the park anyway, so it’s not worth the extra money.

When the bus pulled up to our stop, I was surprised to see the tops of statues peering out from trees next to a busy highway.  Houses surrounded the perimeter of the park and it was as if we were in upstate New York.  What an odd place for the remains of communism.  But if not there, where?

Once inside, it was surreal to see a large, rambling circle of enormous communist statues. They simply towered over us and were all made of the same dark stone. They weren’t the beautiful statues we saw in the city center.  And it just didn’t really leave me with the greatest feeling, in fact, it was downright creepy. We saw the Grandstand and boots from the toppled statue of Stalin, József Kalamár Bust, the Liberation Monument and many others.  All in all 42-statues stand in the park.

Just thinking about those statues in stunning Budapest was enough to give me a small sense of how intrusive and lonely the communism occupation must have been…

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