'Memento Park' socialist sculpures
- darkometer rating: 2
(but weirdness factor 8) -
A permanent open-air exhibition of more or less wacky socialist realism
sculptures and statues from the communist era, all moved to a communal place on the edge of Budapest
. There's also a small indoor exhibition.
>More background info
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
More background info:
After the end of the Cold War
and the fall of the communist
regimes in the former Eastern Bloc
, the traces of that era in the form of the many statues and sculptures celebrating workers or socialist leaders were mostly removed and often simply destroyed.
Very few such statues remain in their original place in most Eastern European countries. However, the further east you go, the less this is true, especially in Russia
– but there are also pockets where the Soviet look, including the statues, has been retained, Transnistria
being a prime example, parts of Kazakhstan
too. Occasionally, the statues were not destroyed but removed from their original locations and transported elsewhere, often out of town (and out of general view).
's capital Budapest
, they followed a special approach: statues were not simply moved away out of view but were actually collected in one place and arranged to form a weird kind of fenced-in exhibition. So 'Memento Park' (formerly known as "Szoborpark" – simply 'sculpture park'), on the outskirts of the city, is something like an enclosure for the extinct species of socialist realism
statues (and other art) that used to celebrate communism and its heroes.
Another, more (in)famous such park is Grutas Park
, also (unofficially) known as "Stalin
World". But Budapest's 'Memento Park'/Szoborpark in some way tops its Lithuanian competitor, at least as far as some of the sculptures themselves are concerned – and the dense concentration of them (the area is much smaller than Grutas Park). It's indeed a weird sight to see all manner of socialist heroism grouped together like this. And several of the statues are both truly monumental and extravagantly over the top.
What there is to see:
A collection of socialist realist
statues and sculptures, "penned-in" in a fairly small area with a brick wall around it.
Star pieces include: a bizarre 'mass sculpture' of what looks like oversized tin soldiers with a lamp post sticking out in the middle of the group, as is a kind-of leader figure guiding the way; then there's the flag-waving giant in mid stride (and what a stride! – it would be impossible for a human being). You can sit on his giant foot that's stretched out forward.
There are plenty of less frenetically flag-waving statues, Soviet soldiers, workers and of course more or less conspicuous commie celebrities, including a classic Lenin in classic gesture of pointing the way forward with his outstretched arm. Or the odd couple of Marx
, looking strangely (a bit fittingly) sad as they look out into the world from the main entrance wall – a world now dominated by bourgeois homes and capitalist building sites.
There's an absence of Stalins
, but his feet are atop a reconstruction (or loose replica rather) of the pedestal that he once towered on in central Budapest – until in the 1956 revolution (see Budapest
). He was torn down from the knees up, just leaving the bronze boots as a sorry remainder … the pedestal is really more of a modern interpretation than a true reconstruction, though.
Another reconstructed pair of those Stalin-boots can be found in the new indoor exhibition. This exhibition focuses on the 1956 revolution, crushed by the Soviet
military, and on the events of 1989/90 which finally did lead to the end of communism
in the former Eastern Bloc
A film about the work of secret agents is shown in the museum's theatre. And there's also a shop selling various communism-themed items, including a DVD copy of that film, as well as joke books, T-shirts, Stalin-candles, etc., etc. (see also House of Terror
far out in the south of Budapest
, in district 22 on the western (Buda) side of the Danube, on the corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca.
Access and costs: out of the centre and a little tricky to get to individually, but cheap; or easy on organized excursions by vintage car that cost hefty extra money.
Details: To get to Memento Park independently by public transport, first get the metro, green line M4, to its terminus at Kelenföld train station and from there bus line 101B or 101E (in the direction of Budatétény), which take only about 10 minutes to get to Memento Park, or by line 150 along a more convoluted route that takes 25 minutes.
Opening times: daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between May and October, only to 4 p.m. the rest of the year
Admission: 1800 HUF (students 1200 HUF).
Local guided tours (50 minutes, six persons minimum) cost 2900 HUF (admission included).
A retro “luxury” alternative is a private transfer by a vintage car from the communist era (namely a GDR
-built “Trabant”), with pick-up anywhere in Budapest, and with a guided tour at the site. Transfer for max three persons costs a hefty 150 EUR, plus 39 EUR per group for the guided tour.
The package with direct transport from the centre of Budapest
takes roughly 2 hours 15 mins (the "Hammer and Sickle Tour" by Absolute Tours lasts up to three and a half hours). If you make your own way to the exhibition park, getting there is likely to take longer each way, but it gives you the option of staying longer at the Park than the regular tours' 90 mins (and anything less wouldn't really make the long trek out here worthwhile). However, that will hardly be necessary – I found an hour and a half perfectly sufficient.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
. As the Park is a far-out suburb, there is absolutely nothing of tourist interest anywhere nearby.
- Budapest Memento Park 01 - a commie pantheon
- Budapest Memento Park 03 - comrades come rally
- Budapest Memento Park 04 - yeah
- Budapest Memento Park 05 - scramble
- Budapest Memento Park 06 - ensemble
- Budapest Memento Park 07 - sporty
- Budapest Memento Park 08 - Lenin
- Budapest Memento Park 09 - past glory
- Budapest Memento Park 10 - past hero
- Budapest Memento Park 11 - discarded and wrapped up
- Budapest Memento Park 12 - no more guidance
- Budapest Memento Park 13 - Lenin nimmt seinen Hut
- Budapest Memento Park 14 - chunky Marx and Engels
- Budapest Memento Park 15 - light at the end of the star
- Budapest Memento Park
- Budapest memento Park 02 - striding giant