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Memento Park Budapest Reviews
Out of the way, but worth it Oct 11, 2010
While out of the way from the main city center, Memento Park is well worth the detour for those interested in the country’s Communist past. Located on the Buda side, it would take about 25-30 minutes to reach it. And the stop name is Memento Park, which is located what looks like the middle of nowhere.
Hungary became Communist after World War II, after the Soviets “liberated” it from the Nazis. During that time, there were statues and monuments littered throughout the city, instilling the values of Communism and what it represents. After the fall of Communism in 1989, all the statues were removed and collected and put into a statue park, and becoming a museum.
When coming to the entrance, you are greeted by the statues of Vladimir Lenin on one side, and Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels on other side. Marx & Engels were the ones who came up with the principles of Communism, known as the Communist Manifesto, while Lenin was the first one to put it into practice in Russia, after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and becoming the Soviet Union.
When entering the park, the monuments are arranged in loops, and go around each one to see them. A guidebook can be bought to learn more about each monument, or hopefully, the one you are carrying around yourself, will give insight to the place. In the middle of the park, is a Communist red star made of flowers.
Outside of the park, is the replica of Stalin’s boots, the ones that were sawed off during the 1956 Uprising. And alongside it, is the exhibition hall, which tells the story of the 1956 Uprising and the fall of communism in 1989, plus a film on how secret police worked during that time. The film is in Hungarian with English subtitles.
I would say, no visit to Budapest would be complete without a look at its recent past, which is in Memento Park. Some books may refer to it as Statue Park.
Part of the Hungary 2010 travel blog
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The Coat Room Attendant Jul 13, 2010
After the political revolution in 1989-90 the question of the Communist era monuments and statues that populated the city and surrounds was a controversial issue for the people of Budapest. Understandably a part of the community supported the destruction of these icons but fortunately they were put to a better use. Memento Park is an ongoing project to create a place that makes a statement about Hungary’s Communist past and the tyranny of dictatorship. The design of the park is laid out to represent the futility of the Communist era, for example the main avenue ends with a large brick wall; a dead end. The statues themselves are works of art and most have hidden subtexts that unashamedly ridiculed the regime. Lucky for the artists the regime was either too ignorant or to self centred to see it. My favourite is “The Coatroom Attendant” a gargantuan bronze statue of a worker striding forward with a flag in his hand.
The park is about a 30minute drive from Budapest. The travel guides all give directions for public transport but in all honesty we couldn’t be bothered and were happy to 3500 forint for the tourist bus tour. The bus leaves from Deak Ter at 11am – there are plenty of maps, voucher books and flyers in the usual tourist spots – always check the times, costs and places. I thoroughly recommend paying an extra 850 forint for an English speaking guide, she was brilliant she knew her stuff, was very open to questions and had a good sense of irony. We chose to go to this park in preference to some of the more traditional tourist spots and are glad we did, it was an interesting glimpse into Hungary’s recent past.
Part of the Eastern Europe travel blog
Nov 11, 2007
Memento Park is a small park on the outskirts of Budapest where the statues, plaques and other city monuments dedicated to communism have been installed since their removal after the fall of the Soviet bloque in 1989. It's an interesting place to see the propagandist art commemorating communism and communist heros and ideals that was installed in public areas between 1948 and the late 1980s. There's also a "Trabant" car which was a product of the German Democratic Republic with a body made of pressed plastic components.
The visit is interesting if you are interested in seeing these curious works of art, but I wouldn't put it on a list of top priorities not to be missed in Budapest if you're there for a limited period of time. The statues are interesting but the park isn't in very good condition, it looks like a "work in progress" in need of completion. The landscaping is virtually non-existent and the few structures are prefabricated and not in very good condition.
One of the buildings has two small rooms, one with an exhibition about the history of communism in Hungary and the other is a small theater where I saw an interesting short film about spies and spying in the Hungarian Communist regime. The film, called "The Life of an Agent" explains communist secret service operations, how they collected information and how they developed en enormous network of informants.
The whole idea is great, but the execution isn't very good. There isn't much explanation about the statues you are seeing which would have been really helpful to get more out of the visit. You can buy a booklet in the souvenir shop with information about the statues, their sculptors, where they used to stand and other information. Unfortunately I didn't know about this until after the visit! Another negative point is that there wasn't any place to sit down except for the little theater and the bus that takes you back close to the center of Budapest. In my case this was kind of important because the temperature was below zero and it started snowing heavily just as we finished seeing everything - about 20 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave.
The park is a 25-minute bus ride from Deák Ferenc Tér in Pest. Buses leave from there at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. I took the 11 a.m. bus and was able to take the same bus back at 1 p.m. Some cool communist era souvenirs are for sale at the shop in the park.
Part of the BUDAPEST travel blog
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