Memento Park Budapest- Cold Memories of Communism in Hungary
Memento Park Budapest is a bizarre collection of historical statues, relics and memories from Hungary’s days as a communist nation.
It’s just one of the myriad of crazy things to do in Budapest, and being a lover of the bizarre and having a real penchant for all things communist I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit this surreal, socialist theme park.
It was a cold, grey winter morning in Budapest, but this didn’t stop me venturing out into the drizzle. In fact, the numbing cold in many ways added to the memories of communism I found in this strange statue filled park hidden away on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital.
And a bit of bad weather could never stop me from seeing Stalin’s Boots…
Here’s what happened when I visited Memento Park Budapest.
Memento Park Budapest – A Surreal Soviet Themepark
After a long, dreary ride through the suburbs of Budapest the bus drops us off on the outskirts of the city, hurtling off into the fog to leave us alone in the cold
Power cables and concrete buildings cut through the fog around us as the harsh wind numbs our faces.
We were miles from the historic centre of one of central Europe’s most admired cities, in search of ‘Memento Park Budapest’, a bizarre monument to Hungary’s communist past, where socialist history has been preserved in a unique and at times perplexing manner.
Stalin’s Boots At The Entrance To Memento Park Budapest
We set off down the road, and through the grey winter weather Stalin’s boots appear through the fog by Memento Park Budapest’s entrance, planted on top of an oversized concrete podium.
This is a recreation of a moment from the country’s 1956 uprising when a statue of Stalin was toppled in the name of good old freedom and democracy. The 1956 Hungarian uprising was the first real threat to Soviet power in the Eastern Bloc after the end of World War II. Disaffected Hungarians began protesting their communist government’s Soviet style policies, and protests soon led to violence and killings.
Before long, the Communist government fell, and protesters toppled the huge statue of Stalin that had pride of place in Budapest, leaving only the boots standing on the podium.
Before long though, the Red Army rolled in with tanks to show the world the joys of socialism and the Hungarian resistance movement was crushed, and the country would be under the communist directive until revolution again swept across the Eastern Bloc in 1989.
Today, a replica of Stalin’s boots stand at the entrance to Memento Park Budapest, a harrowing memorial to the oppressive policies of the dictator, and the decades of communist rule that Hungary endured.
Lenin And Marx – Everyone’s Favourite Revolutionaries
Greeting us at Memento Park Budapest’s extravagant entrance were some of communism’s happy figures.
That’s the revolution’s cheerful Lenin on the left and everyone’s favourite political theorist, Marx himself, on the right.
The Giant Statues Of Memento Park Budapest
Building oversized statues is what communism seemed to do best.
After its fall in 1989, the good people of Budapest decided to tear down the humongous statues the socialist rulers had built as monuments to the glory of Marxism and the workers, but no one really knew what should be done with them. Socialists love statues, and the people of Budapest found they had a lot of them to tear down…
Many of them ended up here a few years later. The Memento Park Budapest website says the idea is ‘Not irony, but remembrance’, but stepping into Memento Park, the place feels more like a socialist disneyland, where ridiculousness trumps remembrance.
In the cold depths of winter, our communist theme park was eerily deserted though…
Lenin stood proud in his new home.
The last, desperate cries of communism in Memento Park Budapest?
The Eastern Bloc’s Happiest Barrack
Communist Hungary was known as the Eastern Bloc’s ‘Happiest Barrack’ and this statue representing the friendship between the Soviets and the Hungarian people sincerely manages to capture that atmosphere.
The Memento Park Budapest Trabant Car
The park’s most interactive attraction however was this old ‘Trabant’, the people’s car. You could climb inside, being careful to avoid the jagged rusty parts of course, and experience the harsh reminder that life in the brutal world of socialism meant small cars, and inadequate leg room.
The Trabant was somewhat of an icon during the days of communist law and order. It was an East German speciality, shipped across the Eastern Bloc, and a reminder that leg room was not needed when socialism ruled.
When the Bloc collapsed, Trabants were left to decay and many were simply abandoned in favour of the supposedly more modern Western cars. It must have just been the leg room, because today Trabant’s like this are more collector’s items than anything else, a nostalgic reminder of the true glory of socialist engineering.
The Unique Preservation Of History At Memento Park Budapest
And if that’s not enough socialist excitement for one day, you can then listen to the communist leader’s hotline, hear some of Stalin’s finest speeches and Gorbachev’s best recordings and then buy your own communist propaganda to take home as your own memento from the park.
Despite the Park’s claims, it is hard not to feel a sense of irony when visiting Memento Park, and this has everything to do with the tacky propaganda for sale and the weird dictator hotlines. Don;t get me wrong, I loved hearing Stalin’s soothing tones on the phone, I’m weirdly into that sort of thing, but if Memento Park is truly a memorial to the dark days of communism, it goes some way to also idealise it.
History has certainly been preserved in a unique way, and for anyone with an interest in communism (or giant statues) it is almost certainly worth the bus/tram ride. But in many ways it also feels as though history has been almost abandoned, hidden away on the outskirts of suburban Budapest, surrounded by drab concrete and generic red bricks.
Memento Park Budapest – How To Get There
- Memento Park Budapest is open daily from 10am until – this is a very rough time given by the officials at the park!- dusk. There’s no clarification on what exactly the closing time is, but if it’s getting dark, they will probably be closing!
- Tickets can be purchased on the door for 1500 HUF, which is about 6 USD.
- Memento Park Budapest is located outside of the city centre, requiring a journey on public or private transport. It took me roughly one hour of travel from my accommodation on the Buda side of the city, to reach Memento Park Budapest by public transport.
- By public transport, first head to Kelenfold Bus Station. There are trams going this way from Buda and from Pest, and it is on metro line 4. At Kelenfold, change onto either bus no. 101 or bus no. 150.
- Transport in Budapest is easy to use, but just make sure you validate your tickets. Single rides cost 350 HUF, and you can buy bulk strips to validate each time. However, one a metro ride in the city I did once forget to validate my ticket and was called out by the inspector, resulting in an annoying fine and a lesson well learnt.
- You can buy 24 hour transport cards valid on all public transport for 1650 HUF, and these are perfect if you are going to be doing a lot of sightseeing and trekking around, however if you are just making one or two trips, it’s cheaper to buy individual fares.
- If you would rather not navigate the public transport, then Memento Park Budapest also run a daily tour bus direct from Deak Ter in the city centre. This departs at 11am and returns at 1pm. It’s a direct bus transfer, however the price is considerably higher than going by public transport, and there is only departure and return a day. The cost is 4900 HUF if purchased on the day, or you can check availability and book online at the official Memento Park Budapest Website and get a discount, with an online price of 3900 HUF.
Location of Memento Park Budapest
You will find Memento Park Budapest at the following location:
A Visit to Memento Park Budapest is just one of the bizarre and crazy things to do in the city. If you need more inspiration for your trip to Budapest, then look no further than my detailed article on Crazy Things To Do In Budapest! You can find that HERE.