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Published: January 25th 2021
Another visit to Budapest, this time with Adam and to the area of the Parliament Building.
A couple of years ago we went on a Danube river cruise and I remember as we sailed into Budapest the sight of the beautiful Parliament Building was truly amazing and then in the evening seeing it all lit up was even more magical.
I had been on another of Adam’s fours and remembered his he was so full of knowledge and had what he called micro stories to tell, interesting facts about Budapest that are not necessarily in any tourist book.
We were on the Pest side, the skies were full of clouds ranging from white to menacing black ones which all added to the atmosphere as we started our journey.
A very moving installation was the ‘Shoes on the Danube Promenade’
The memorial is simple yet chilling, depicting the shoes left behind by the thousands of Jews who were murdered by the Arrow Cross, a fascist, anti-semitic organization that brutally and publicly terrorized the Jews in Budapest by beating and killing them.
Nearly 80,000 Jews were expelled from Hungary in a death march
to the Austrian border and approximately 20,000 Jews were brutally shot along the banks of the Danube River. The victims were forced to remove their shoes & jackets at gunpoint and they were shot, falling over the edge to be washed away by the freezing waters.
It was created by film director Can Togay and the sculptor & consists of over 50 pairs of 1940s-style shoes, true to life in size and detail, all sculpted out of iron.
The style of footwear - a man’s work boot; a business man’s loafer; a woman’s pair of heels; even the tiny shoes of a child - were chosen specifically to illustrate how no one, regardless of age, gender, or occupation was spared. Placed in a casual fashion, as if the people just stepped out of them, these little statues are a grim reminder of the souls who once occupied them - it was such a sad story but this memorial is a beautiful place of reflection.
It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Parliament building.
The equestrian statue looking very proud outside this iconic building.
Gyula Andrássy was a Hungarian statesman, who served as Prime Minister
of Hungary (1867–1871) and subsequently as Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary (1871–1879).
The Parliament Building is built in the Gothic Revival style; it has a symmetrical façade and a central dome. Imre Steindl submitted his plans upon the official call for a parliament building in 1880. The Gothic design reflects the inspiration he found in the Palace of Westminster.
Like our own Parliament there is a House of Commons & a House of Lords, with a red carpet in the Commons & blue in the House of Lords, the seats in this house were larger than in the Commons, as Adam explained the Lords more often were of larger build so needed larger seats.
With a height of 96m it is one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest, along with St. Stephen’s Basilica.The number 96 refers to the nation's millennium, 1896.
The Ministry of Agriculture Building directly across from The Parliament Building, was the backdrop for a pivotal moment in Hungary’s 1956 Revolution against Soviet control.
October 25th 1956 now known to Hungarians as Bloody Thursday, thousands of peaceful protesters congregated at the Parliament Building. To quell the demonstration, Soviet troops and state secret police
opened fire on the crowd. Some of the fleeing protesters took shelter behind the façade of the Ministry of Agriculture Building’s colonnade, and as a result, their pursuers fired in their direction leaving scars on the buildings structure in the process.
It’s unclear how many died during the massacre and despite the bloody two-week revolution, the Hungarians’ bid for autonomy was ultimately squelched by Soviet reinforcements in November of 1956.
So another sad reminder as we saw dozens of bronze balls to mark where bullet holes from the revolution once riddled the outer wall of the building’s arcade.
Adam our guide told how he had met a young survivor who had managed to escape the bullets, he heard how for many many years the young man had lived overseas but finally returned to Hungary & brought his family to the place he very nearly lost his life.
End route to St. Stephen’s Basilica we passed a beautiful building, now under redevelopment. The Adria Palace was built in 1902, owned by a shipping company the exterior of the building contains many marine elements such as shells, ropes, anchors, and sea creatures.
Stephen’s Basilica - The church was completed in 1905, after 54 years of constructions, named after Saint Stephen of Hungary the first King of Hungary whose "incorruptible" right hand is mummified and on display, but there is a much more strange ‘relic’ in this church which doesn’t really seem to be logical. In the church you will find the tombs of some famous… soccer players. The most famous of them is Ferenc Puskás. ( The name doesn’t ring a bell with me but I think he was an iconic Hungarian footballer)
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest Church in the country. It can house more than 8,500 people & like the Parliament building is 96 mtrs high.
The tour was running over the scheduled 45 minutes but Adam wanted us to see another interesting Statue, especially for the Americans in the group.
A statue of Ronald Reagan may seem a bit out of place in the center of Liberty Square but is there because the Hungarian people wanted to show their appreciation for the former U.S. president’s efforts in ending the Cold War, which in turn helped to end the Russian
influence in Hungary. Behind the shoulder of Reagan is the Hungarian Parliament Building
The statue faces the U.S. embassy, but at the same time it also looks directly to the monument commemorating the Soviet army soldiers who fell during the liberation of Budapest from the Nazis. The monument is the last remaining communist statue.
Our last stop was the monument to the Victims of the German occupation of Hungary in 1944
The monument was completed in 2014 - The Central sculpture of the monument stands the Archangel Gabriel (patron of Hungary), standing on a ribbed pedestal. In the right hand the Archangel holds a small ball with a cross (Apple) which is about to hit the eagle, towering over the sculpture, symbolizing Nazi Germany.
There is a lot of controversy about this structure. Along the fence in front of the memorial people lay mementos of loved ones.
So much information in this one hour tour.
On a lighter note when asked where he had learnt his English Adam replied ‘At school but not with grammar lessons but by watching TV programmes one of which was Monty Python’ !
So now we know where he got his sense of humour.
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