Posted by: Alex MacGregor | June 15, 2015

Churches, Castles, and Communist Statues

After about a day in Budapest, I realized that, with a river splitting two rather impressive and distinctive cities, and a whole ton of touristy stuff to boot, Budapest would be joining a rather small list of cities that have three posts devoted to them (currently limited to Mexico City, Cape Town, Islanbul, and Havana, to my knowledge).

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True to form, any major European city needs to have a magical cathedral. Budapest boasts it in the form of St Stephen’s Basilica, over in Pest.

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My favorite part (as usual) was climbing the massive stairway up to the dome!

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I made it up to the top just as a major rainstorm was setting in (time for coffee!).

One thing I really wanted to see was the Transport Museum, which apparently has tons of history about all forms of transport in Eastern Europe. It’s located on the other end of City Park, a massive green oasis in Pest that is a worthy attraction in itself.

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The extensive statues of the Millennium Monument at the entrance of City Park.

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To show off Hungarian architecture and culture back in the turn of the 20th Century, Hungary built this castle as a museum. It never served a defensive purpose, but is just to look pretty!

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Nice little superfluous building to have laying around, huh?

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This little miniature road network of bike lanes, designed so children will understand the rules of the road, is beyond precious.

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And, after walking several miles through Budapest’s affable environs, I arrived at the Transport Museum only to find…it was closed! For renovation! Until 2018! Emojis don’t begin to describe my sadness.

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Fortunately, a little railcar that was turned into a cafe was on hand to cheer me up!

But my favorite attraction in Budapest, unsurprisingly given the trajectory of this overall trip, was a visit to Memento Park.

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Memento Park, it turns out, is a sizable schlep outside of town, on the Buda side of the river.

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A journey consisting of a tram ride, transferring onto a bus route that winds its way into the suburbs, is enough to dissuade many a visitor. But not this guy!

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Memento Park is a collection of Soviet statues from around Budapest. Instead of being outright destroyed, they were taken to a park way out in the suburbs to be gawked at for eternity.

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I mostly found the moments interesting for their size and themes, rather than the outright messages they send (which were typically patriotic and specific to the point of having very little modern meaning).

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The notable exception: Stalin’s Boots. (Or a replica thereof.)

These were all that remained of a statue of Stalin that was torn down in the 1956 Revolution, as previously discussed, and once stood in the location of the current, modern monument. They remain a symbol of national pride and struggle against the Soviet Union.

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Time to head to Pest’s train station, serving all points east, for my next stop: the heart of Transylvania!

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