Communism in Hungary may have ended in 1989, but on the outskirts of Budapest there is a park where you can still feel it. After the fall of communism, citizens of Eastern European cities understandably began destroying the buildings, statues and symbols of the era and regime that had oppressed them since 1949.
However, there was one visionary team of people that believed such things should be preserved, as testimony to the nightmare they had all lived. This is how Budapest’s Memento Park came to life, not as a celebration of communism but as a monument to the fall of communism.
In this park you can find lots of communist statues and monuments that used to be in the streets of Budapest (not too long ago, if you think about it, which is a scary thought).
The most impressive statue isn’t really there – allow me to explain. The statue of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, formerly an 8 metre high bronze statue, was pulled down during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. The statue’s huge stand, a replica of the original, now supports only Stalin’s boots, which were left as an ironical reminder of the dictator. His boots might seem like a detail, but it shows how imposing the monument used to be.
Apart from the Statue Park and Stalin’s Grandstand, Memento Park also includes a film theatre where you can watch a special (and rather dark) documentary film about the political secret service, called “The life of an agent”, showing you how to film suspects or follow them unobserved. If I were you, I’d be highly suspicious of people who put their large bag on a cafe table near me in the future!
It’s worth visiting the Memento Park. Like someone said, “it offers a one-of-a-kind glimpse into communist history, displaying a sometimes amusing, sometimes eerie, but always intriguing collection of Communist-era statues.”