On Trip Tidbits: Liberty Square

Image from Budapest Tourism

Many visitors to Budapest encounter Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) – especially if they are avid walkers. After all, Liberty Square is on the way from city center to the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building.

Liberty Square is a public park. The trees are full, the border buildings are grand. Hungarian National Bank and the former Hungarian Stock Exchange flank one side as symbols to free capitalism. The US Embassy is located on the opposite side of the square.

To me, Liberty square was a place of contrast. A place of contradictions. A place that could be called the Square of Juxtaposition. Let me make my case.

Monument of German Occupation

 

Hungary initially was one of the pro-Hitler Axis Powers. Hungarian military invaded Yugoslavia and massacred many. In 1944, Germans moved to occupy Hungary because Hitler felt betrayed by Hungarian leaders. From that point, Hungarian Jews and Roma were sent to concentration camps. In front of the monument is a collection of small memorials to Hungarian Holocaust victims. Yet, no mention of the Hungarian involvement in the atrocities.

 

Harry Bandholtz Statue

Austria-Hungary and Germany were WW1 allies. Which means the Hungarians lost the war. Liberty Park has a statue to Harry Bandholtz, a US Army general (WW1). It seems a band of Romanians wanted to loot the Hungarian National Museum, but Bandholtz successfully protected the museum – therefore a statue in this honor.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Memorial to Fallen Soviet Soldiers

The Soviets erected a memorial the far end of Liberty Square to honor their role in liberating Hungary from the Nazis and in memorial to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the efforts. Of course, the Soviets decided to stay for over 40 years – and the US Embassy is nearby.

 

Ronald Reagan Statue

Very near to the Soviet Memorial stands a statue of Ronald Reagan. Interestingly, the current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is responsible for the statue. However, Orbán is far to the right, and is moving Hungary closer to Putin’s Russia – and I just don’t think Ronald Reagan would be endorsing Putin.

 

Imre Nagy Memorial

Imre Nagy (HM-reh nodge) was a communist, but he sought to ease Stalinist policies. As he rose in leadership, he withdrew Hungary from the Warsaw Pact with hopes of bridging Eastern Communism with Western Capitalism. This memorial has Nagy on the bridging facing the Parliament Building. Interestingly, Prime Minister Orbán had the statue removed in late December. Here’s a related read.

Image from Wikipedia

Yes, Budapest’s Liberty Square is interesting, complicated, and full of contradictions.

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33 thoughts on “On Trip Tidbits: Liberty Square

  1. I think your last line/comment coincides with the little I know of Budapest’s history and current governmental/political structure. I’m fascinated with the statue of Reagan and find it surprising. The little memorials to the Holocaust victims touches me even in a photo. I can imagine the impact it must have when you’re right there. I enjoyed the photos and history lesson, Frank!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      The Reagan statue surprised me. Given the current leader in Hungary, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did suddenly vanished. This Holocaust memorial didn’t get to me because of was already into the contradictions in the place. Besides, we were in Auschwitz 2 days earlier. However, their is another memorial that is subtle on sight, but the story is difficult – so it deserves it’s own post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, you did it! – Your photos and comments boosted my interest in visiting Budapest to see the interesting, complicated, and full of contradictions stuff you talk about. Any hotel recommendations? My favorite kind of travel continues to be finding a great historical city, parking myself in a moderately priced hotel near public transportation until my money runs out, eating food the locals like, and exploring on foot all the places Rick Steves says to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim,
      Glad this enhances your interest in Budapest. Regarding hotels, keep in mind that the tour arranged the hotels – so I have no comparison. However, we enjoyed our hotel because 1) it was nice, but not extravagant; 2) It was close to a subway stop; 3) there were walkable sites nearby.

      The hotel was Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest on Andrassy Ut (street/avenue/whatever)

      Like

  3. Interesting, complicated, and full of contradictions…talk about an understatement. Despite my Germany background, I confess I’m woefully ignorant of Eastern European countries’ role during WW2. Thank you for providing some context from very complicated times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do agree about your last line in the post. I was there last summer while in Europe myself. The Reagan one caught my eye immediately upon seeing it, and I’ve often thought about why it’s really there(and have had number of people ask me when I posted a pic of me with it). I went alone without a guide, so that does make a bit of difference. My hotel was on a river boat and I went over to see the Parliament area on my second day, and stumbled across the majority of Liberty Square. However, it takes nothing away from me as far as my time in the city. I’ll post my guide and review of it at a later date. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The contradictions in Liberty Square seem parallel to many more political contradictions in the world. They should erect a statue to juxtaposed oxymorons. Morons being key to the same, and the opposite.
    I’ve got to stop, now, or I’ll rant until dawn.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: On Trip Tidbits: More Budapest – A Frank Angle

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