Tuesday, November 22, 2016

189. Heroes Square and City Park Beyond ...

Today I take a short bus ride from my apartment to visit Heroes' Square - one of the major squares in Budapest - noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, and other important national leaders, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The square has played an important part in contemporary Hungarian history and has been the site of many political events since its completion.

The central feature of Heroes' Square, as well as a major landmark of Budapest, is the Millennium Memorial. Construction began in 1896 to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the foundation of the Hungarian state in 1896, and was part of a much larger building project which also included the construction of the first metro line in Budapest. Construction was completed in 1900, which was when the square received its name.

At the front of the monument is a large stone cenotaph surrounded by an ornamental iron chain ( just seen at the lower left corner of this image ... ). The cenotaph is dedicated "To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence." While it is often referred to as a "tomb" it is not a burial place.

Directly behind the cenotaph is a column topped by a statue of the archangel Gabriel. In his right hand the angel holds the Holy Crown of St. Stephen - the first king of Hungary ( the same king whose right hand can now be found in St Stephens Basilica – see a previous post … ). In his left hand the angel holds a two barred apostolic cross, a symbol awarded to St. Stephen by the Pope in recognition of his efforts to convert Hungary to Christianity.

At the base of the column is a group of seven mounted figures representing the Magyar chieftains who led the Hungarian people into the Carpathian Basin. In the front is Árpád, considered the founder of the Hungarian nation. Behind him are the chieftains Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Töhötöm (Tétény). Little survives in the historical record about these individuals and both their costumes and their horses are considered to be more fanciful than historically accurate.

Behind the monument are of two matched colonnades, each with seven statues representing great figures of Hungarian history.

Topping the outer edge of the left colonnade is a statue of a man with a scythe and a woman sowing seed, representing Labor and Wealth. At the inner top edge of the left colonnade is a male figure driving a chariot using a snake as a whip representing War.

On the facing end of the right colonnade is a female figure in a chariot holding a palm frond representing Peace. In the corresponding position on the top of right colonnade is a statue of a man holding a little golden statue and a woman with a palm frond representing Knowledge and Glory.

The sculptures were made by sculptor Zala György from Lendava. 

The area of course attracts its fair share of eager tourists - as can be seen by the endless line of empty coaches waiting for the guides to finish showing the visitors the many scenes and then onto the next site.

Passing through the Square and surrounding museums I cross over a man-made lake into City Park with its many features including an outdoor skating rink, Vajdahunyad Castle, Széchenyi Thermal Baths and 300 acres of parkland ( established in the mid-18th Century ) …

City Park Ice Skating Rink ...

Vajdahunyad Castle overlooking the Rink

Vajdahunyad Castle was built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition which celebrated the 1,000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895

The castle contains a statue of Béla Lugosi, as well, who was a Hungarian-American actor famous for portraying Count Dracula in the original 1931 film.


As the castle contains parts of buildings from various time periods, it displays different architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Originally, it was made from cardboard and wood, but it became so popular that it was rebuilt from stone and brick between 1904 and 1908. Today, it houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, the biggest agricultural museum in Europe.

The castle was designed by Ignác Alpár to feature copies of several landmark buildings from different parts the Kingdom of Hungary, especially the Hunyad Castle in Transylvania (now in Romania).

The statue of the chronicler Anonymus ( by Miklós Ligeti ) is also displayed in the castle court. Anonymus lived in the 12th century  (his true identity is unknown, but he was a notary of Béla III of Hungary ), who wrote the chronicle Gesta Hungarorum (Deeds of the Hungarians) ...

Parkland with its golden carpet

Also situated in the confines of the City Park is the Széchenyi Baths. Built in Neo-baroque style to the design of Győző Czigler. Construction began on 7 May 1909 and the spa was officially opened in 1913. The buildings and pools were designed by architect Eugene Schmitterer. The built-up area is 6,220 square metres. 

The attendance of spa was in excess of 200,000 people in 1913. This number increased to 890,507 by 1919. At that time it had private baths, separate men and women steam-bath sections, and different men / women "public baths". The complex was expanded in 1927 to its current size, with 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools.

The thermal spring that supplies the water for the spa was drilled at a depth of 1,256 metres (4,121 ft), and the water has a temperature of 77 °C (171 °F). It supplies 6,000,000 of hot water daily.

( ... I didn't visit the Baths during my stay ... the thought of soaking in all that hot water for a couple of hours, then coming back outside into the freezing chill, just didn't appeal ... !!! ... ).

On the edge of City park is Ötvenhatosok Square. Here once stood a large statue of Stalin and during the Soviet rule of Hungary the Square was a military parade ground. After the 1956 Revolution and the independence of Hungary, statue was pulled and the Square became a centre for liberation.

This mighty sculpture – symbolizes the Hungarians breaking the rule of communism. Unfortunately I cannot find out who the sculptor is nor much detail about the artwork.

Consisting of a number of converging solid metal columns ( the people of Hungary ) that unite and join forces to form a polished wedge that breaks the cobble-cover of the rule of communism ( my interpretation … ) …  

Another view of the Skating Rink on my way out of the Park – note the ambulance in attendance just in case one of the skaters gets skated on ...

And the final image from City Park doesn’t have a title – but I think it may be Father Time carrying in the New year …

And speaking of time – it is nearly time for me to leave Budapest and head off to a new destination – so in my next Blog Post I will show you some final images of this beautiful city …