Tonnes of Statues - Szoborpark

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by SaraP on July 25, 2003

Part gallery/part park/part monument - the ultimate slapdown for proud Soviet history - a park housing 42 statues and friezes saved when the Soviet regime fell and now set out in an open-air museum.

The exhibits range from a colossus of a muscled sailor striding forth, shirt wide open and red flag clutched in his fist and proudly flying, to a frieze of townspeople including family, little old lady and courting couple, to the usual stern Lenins and Marxes.

On arrival you pass through a pseudo-classical gateway to the ticket desk and a bescarfed-woman behind the desk jumps up and switches on some stirring Soviet marching museum to get you in the mood. Then into the park -- past statues of all shapes and sizes, artfully placed to show you how the USSR wanted to embrace all its people (so hard that it choked some of them) and how it wanted to be remembered. Apparently, when the walls fell throughout the former Soviet vassals states and the populace began to revile its former masters, vengeance was taken out in no small part on the statues which were quickly pulled down and smashed up. The mayor, presumably sensing a portion of history going down the drain, put a temporary stop to it and asked people to nominate local pieces which they would want to see preserved.

And so they did -- the park opened in 1993 and is certainly one of the highlights of my visit. The only mystery is why it's so far out of town.

Most striking are the Goliaths - as well as the monumental giant sailor, caught forever charging forward (based on a 1919 revolutionary poster) is the stiff upright uniformed Red Army soldier who formerly guarded the golden victory symbol or "Liberation" monument at Gellert-hegy. Most moving of all is a statue towards the back, a male figure caught as he falls to his knees, head back and throat exposed, one arm held up, perhaps in supplication or perhaps in an attempt at self-protection...

On your way out (allow yourself an hour to mooch -- it's not big but you'll want to contemplate the enormity of what it tells you about the past), the music will be whisked on again, this time to remind you of your need for souvenirs -- these range from your very own CD of these Soviet marching classics to candles shaped as busts of Lenin (or, rather more tackily, can containing the "last breath of Socialism"). Also a variety of historic postcards and a good aeriel shot.

Open daily 10am (Winter w/es); entrance 600F (c£1.75/$3). Getting there is something of a test of ingenuity and endurance - touristbus twice a day (arriving with 25 others somewhat breaks the solemnity) - £6/$10 incl entry or a red 173 bus (outside Palazsi Udvar) to Edele ter and change to a Volan for Diosd - 130F single.

Memento Statue Park
Bathori utca, 22
Budapest, Hungary, 1054
+36 1 424 7500

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