Budapest: The Meaning Behind the Monument
Budapest is a stunning city with an incredible history, and everywhere you turn there are statues, historical buildings and important monuments that serve as a reminder of its intricate past. Here is the complete guide to Budapest‘s most significant monuments, scattered all across the city, with insider details surrounding what makes them so special.
The literal and symbolic link between Buda and Pest, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a 1246-foot-long suspension bridge that was first opened in 1849, after having been proposed by Count István Széchenyi, an important political and cultural figure in 18th-century Hungary. Its significance is largely due to its status as a symbol for the connection between the East and West. Designed by leading English engineer, William Tierney Clark, it was also considered an architectural and structural marvel at the time of its construction.
Less historically important and more culturally significant, Fisherman’s Bastion is a large, neo-gothic castle-like structure that offers panoramic views of Budapest city. It’s considered to be an architectural wonder, and was built for the purpose of helping make Budapest beautiful. Completed in 1902, the name came from the fact that it was built on a site which was defended by a group of fishermen during the Middle Ages. During the Medieval Ages, the area was also the home of a large fish market. Looking like something out of a Disney movie, today it serves as an elaborate viewing platform and popular tourist attraction, and it is also home to one of Budapest’s best restaurants by the same name.
Perhaps not literally on the same scale (size-wise) as NYC’s version, Liberty Statue, also known as the “Freedom Statue” is still of incredibly significance to the Hungarians. Sitting at 46 feet tall on an 85-foot-high pedestal located on Gellért Hill, it’s a stand-out feature of the Budapest skyline. It was erected in 1947 and is representative of the time in which Hungary was rid of Nazi occupation by the Soviets. For the chance to impress your traveling counterparts, drop into a conversation that the Hungarian inscription on the statue originally read: “Erected by the grateful Hungarian Nation in memory of the liberating Russian heroes,” yet was altered in 1989 when the country changed from largely communist ruling, to a more democratic system of government, and now reads: “To the memory of all of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and success of Hungary.” How’s that for a fun fact!
Holocaust Memorial Center Budapest
The Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center is a housed in a stunning building that in itself serves as memorial to those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. The center was first opened in 2004, which coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian holocaust, although the building it exists in dates back to 1924. It is both a museum and educational facility and houses a permanent exhibition, alongside various temporary exhibitions. It is a powerful and confronting reminder of the impact of the Holocaust on Budapest and broader Hungary. Take a few deep breaths and just do it; it’s something that will stick with you, and probably even change you — for life. With Hungary now nearing the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust, it has also just been announced that a $22 million dollar memorial is also going to be erected at the Jozsefvaros train station, which was where hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were deported to the likes of Auschwitz.
Another of the most significant Budapest monuments is Heroes’ Square, or “Hősök tere” in Hungarian, is a World Heritage Site that happens to be the biggest square in Hungary, and one of the oldest squares in the world, having first opened in 1896. It is a large tourist draw due to both its cultural and political significance. The square is home to the Millennium Monument, which features statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that originally founded Hungary, alongside statues of other important people throughout Hungary’s history. Quite incredibly, the construction of the Millennium Monument was first begun on the 1000th anniversary of Hungary. Check it out when it is all lit up at night; it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Chain Bridge image from Fotopedia.com by SF Brit
About the Author: Guest writer Chelsea Braid is a New Yorker with a passion for exploring foreign cities.