Budapest; well known for its Chain Bridge (the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest), famous Budapest baths, and traditional dishes such as goulash.
But there’s more to Budapest aside from the above tourist to do/visit/see items.
Memento Park, approximately 20 minutes (by car) from Budapest’s city centre is an open-air museum displaying 42 pieces of art from the Communist era between 1945 and 1989, and well worth being on your Hungary bucket list.
In December 2015, along with Jordan and my dad, I road tripped from Vienna to Budapest for the day. December of course marks the beginning of winter for Europe, and if you’re willing to bear the minus degree weather it is the perfect time to visit Memento Park.
The day we visited thick fog fell over the city creating an intense eeriness, and making our visit to Memento Park that little bit more special.
Battling through the cold and fog, and occasional snow fall, the various monuments, some 6 metres tall, tower above you. Each statue with a different meaning and story behind them.
Created in 1993 the park features statues of figures such as Lenin, Marx, Dimitrov, Béla Kun and other “heroes” of the communist world.
The size of each statue is unbelievably impressive. Imagine how hard it was to create something so large, and then to transport it!
If someone asked me to describe the park in two words, I would describe it is as a ‘historical playground.’ Because while being a tourist destination it also acts as an educational centre on Communism and more specifically the fall of Communism.
The park is open every day from 10AM until dusk and single entry tickets cost 1500 HUF (approx. AU$7.55) for adults (student prices available with a valid ISIC card).
While it’s more than enough to explore the park on your own, there is the option of taking a 50 minute guided tour if you’re wanting to grasp more about the history behind the park as well as the secrets, personal experiences, and stories from the communist era for an additional 1200 HUF (AU$6) per person.
It’s interesting to note that all the statues aren’t works of art, rather they are mementos of the Communist era and each statue once had a home around Hungary. Instead of being destroyed at the end of the communist regime they were relocated to Memento Park as a reminder of the past.
Top tip: As you can see from the photos the eeriness as a result of the winter fog and cold really took the experience to a whole new level; while it would still be a great place to see no matter what the weather, if you can I would highly recommend visiting during the winter months.
Taken from Memento Park’s website:
The words of architect Ákos Eleőd, the conceptual designer of Memento Park serve as its motto: “This Park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described and built up, this Park is about democracy. After all, only democracy can provide an opportunity to think freely about dictatorship. Or about democracy, come to that! Or about anything!”