Not far away from St. Stephen’s Basilica is another famous landmark of Budapest – Hungarian Parliament building (Országház). In which, going on foot between the two led me to Freedom Square (Szabadság tér). This is a rather interesting place to me where seemingly, the duels between Communism VS Democracy are fought in silence, or rather, with concrete and bronze.
Taking centre stage at Freedom Square is a Soviet monument, possibly the very few remaining ones in Budapest that occupies such prominent place. The obelisk topped with a five-pointed Communist Star was erected in honour of Russian soldiers who had sacrificed during the liberation of Budapest.
I’m surprised to see the monument especially knowing that the locals are not keen to be reminded of Soviet occupation. Hence, it’s a no-brainer to see barricades and police being deployed at Freedom Square to prevent vandals.
The intentions to take down the monument were unfruitful after Russia protested about the soldiers buried under it. And that’s when other contrary-meaning monuments were built, perhaps to alter the obelisk’s meaning.
One of them is a bronze statue of former American President Ronald Reagan. The statue looks to be walking towards the obelisk or the American Embassy Building behind it. Whichever the case, the Soviet monument is now flanked by the former President and the Embassy. Not that subtle huh?
Another one is a statue of Imre Nagy, a national hero during Hungary’s anti-Soviet 1956 uprising. With his back against the Soviet monument, he gazes towards Hungary’s democracy symbol – the Hungarian Parliament building.
Just in front of the Parliament building is the huge Kossuth Lajos Square (Kossuth Lajos tér). The well maintained grassy square is surrounded by nice looking buildings and well placed monuments.
Hungarian Parliament building
But of course, the star here is Hungarian Parliament building. Standing neck to neck with St. Stephen Basilica at 96 meters as the joint tallest structures in Budapest. Construction began in 1885 with the intention to commemorate Hungary’s millennium in 1896 but it wasn’t completed until 1904. Upon completion, the sheer magnitude of this magnificent building has dominated the Budapest’s skyline ever since.
This impressive building fascinates the architecture junkie in me after seeing spectacular photos of it, I just gotta see it. Sadly for me, I didn’t get to see the interior of the legislative building due to Easter holidays. But its exterior alone is enough to be the best-looking parliament building in my books.
Attempt to take in all of the Parliament building with my wide angle lens proved to be mission impossible. Reason? The gothic building sits just next to the bank of Danube River.
There’s only so much room one can move backwards as the below picture shows. And mind you, there’re no railings between the promenade and the river!
The better place to capture the Parliament building would be from the opposite bank, on a river cruise boat or standing on Danube River LOL. Here are some of the pictures I took from the opposite bank.
The Shoes on the Danube
Along the edge of the promenade, not far from the Parliament building is the memorial made up of sixty pairs of rusty-looking shoes. It serves to remind the brutality of Arrow Cross militiamen towards Hungarian Jews. Victims were brought here to face the river and forced to remove their shoes by militiamen, before being shot in the back and washed away by the freezing Danube…
There are shoes of men, women and even children…such brutality is inhumane and yet it happened…what world are we living in? I was near tears after seeing those tiny shoes and all I can offer is a prayer…