Monday, May 19, 2014

Shawn's Scoop: Hungarian Parliament Building

Back in town from visiting the Statue Park, I made my way to the Hungarian Parliament Building for one of the afternoon tours.

This was the runner up design for the parliament building, so they built it across the street for the courts,
now in use as the Ethnographic Museum
Tickets in hand, I walked closer to see details before joining the tour line
Hungarian colors and lion
A Magyar chieftain
Inside, everything is marble and gilt (a total of 88 lbs of gold apparently)
These numbered cigar holders lined the window wells
The exquisite Upper House, the modern, unicameral National Assembly (we were told) uses either chamber, this is the more ornate of the two
It still shows (or rather, shows again) the historic houses of the Hungarian empire
In the hall leading to the ancient Holy Crown (the only place where photos were prohibited)
Off the central rotunda, this massive entry way, leading up from the Danube
And back outside
Atilla József, poet, and his poem "By the Danube"
Looking down to the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a holocaust memorial (street view)
A great tour of a beautiful building

Shawn's Scoop: Communist Art at Memento Park

In today's exploration of Hungary's communist era, I visited Memento Park, a collection of socialist realist statues and monuments that were taken down after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The park opened in 1993, two years to the day from the last Soviet soldier withdrawing from Hungary, to stand as a memorial to the forty years of communist dictatorship (1949-89).

For me, walking through park, around these purposefully iconic pieces of art and social propaganda, provided a glimpse into the high-minded, but utterly oppressive attitude that governed Hungary and the entire Soviet-bloc during the 20th century. It is difficult to comprehend the disparity between the stated ideals of unity, equality and progress with the insidious and self-poisoning system that was created and imposed on the people here.

The park walks a fine line between showcasing the monuments and being a kitschy type of communist nostalgia. In the end, with postcards, CD's and other soviet era memorabilia for sale it seems that capitalism has won the day.

I passed through the lovely Erzsébet Ter again on the way to the shuttle to the park
Here is the shallow pool above the Akvarium Klub I walked by yesterday
Angels watching over us
This is an old bus terminal, now a great looking outdoor cafe
The imposing entrance to Memento Park, a 20 minute ride from downtown
The imperious Lenin
Marx and Engels
Up close with Lenin
Inside the park, the statues are arranged in three figure-eights
This Red Army soldier was formerly part of the Liberty Monument
Hungarian-Soviet Friendship
Liberation Monument
Looking ahead
These people give a perspective on the size of the first statue
More Lenin, appealing to the people
Red Star in flowers
This poor chap was cut off his base at the knees
Memorial to Béla Kun, the proletariat transforming into an army
Workers' Movement Memorial
Hungarian Spanish War fighters
Republic of Councils Monument: The Striding Soldier,
which once stood on or near Heroes' Square
Young scouts are honored too
Looking back to the entrance
The Buda Volunteers Regiment Memorial
Note the blank spaces where bronze soldiers had been placed
All hail our liberators
Outside the park atop a recreation of the parade reviewing platform once at Heroes' Square
Quite the water tower?
These posters were in the dark, unused recesses of the platform
This is the platform as it once stood, first with Stalin, and from 1959-89 just his boots
The recreated platform at the park as it stands today