Europe

The fabulous Memory Park in Budapest

The Park of Memory, or Memento Park, it is a controversial monument in Budapest, but not for that lack of interest or aesthetics. In fact, the controversies that it provokes are one of the attractions that invite you to visit the place and form your own idea of ​​the historical traces that are alive in Hungary.

For many, the Budapest Memory Park is a perfect example of the combination between historical testimony and a critical perspective of the past. This monument was made to remember something that many people do not want to remember. In many parts of the world it has been decided to erase what is not wanted to be remembered, but not in Hungary.

The Parque de la Memoria is also the park of communism. It constitutes an account of a past in which Hungary was part of the countries of the Soviet orbit. Many of the statues that are exhibited in that place have their own legend.

Hungary’s past

Hungary became part of the Soviet orbit during World War II. The Hungarians were Hitler’s collaborators, and for this reason they fought against the Soviets when they began their advance in Europe. Thus, Budapest suffered a terrifying siege between December 29, 1944 and February 13, 1945.

In the end, a unilateral peace was signed and, as was customary in the Soviets, the victors imposed their conditions. This is how a socialism brought from abroad made its way, with the presence of Russian military troops on board. However, unlike other Eastern European countries, Hungary managed to maintain a good standard of living during its communist era.

What there was was a notorious mistrust and rejection of what many considered invaders. Tensions were constant and highly visible during Stalin’s rulewho ruled with an iron fist his own country and all those who were under his orbit.

The origin of the Parque de la Memoria

Slowly, Hungary it was shedding communism and by 1990 it had already begun its own path, towards a free market economy. With the Soviet Perestroika, the change became more accelerated. By then, all of Budapest was full of statues extolling the great figures of communism.

In the year 1991, two important events took place. On the one hand, there was a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest. There it was agreed to withdraw the Soviet troopsa fact that was later corroborated by Mikhail Gorbachev’s order to dismantle the military structure in Hungary.

The other fact had to do with the decision about the fate of all those communist statues that were in a good part of the city and against which many only felt contempt.

The debate was heated and lasted just over three months; Many just wanted to see them destroyed. At the end, it was agreed to gather them in one place so that they would become a didactic testimony of the past. Thus was born the idea of ​​the Parque de la Memoria.

Museum, gallery and legend

In December 1991, the final agreement was made to create a theme park that would give an account of the past to future generations. Then, a competition for the design of this was called and the winner was the Hungarian architect Arkos Eleod. The park was opened in June 1993, when the second anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops was commemorated.

The Parque de la Memoria houses a total of 42 statues that were transferred from the place where they were initially stationed, to there. The entrance is very symbolic, since it has a monumental aspect and at first sight it seems to be the access to a great building. However, when you cross that threshold there is only an outdoor space with the sculptures.

In addition, the large entrance gate is always closed and the park is accessed through a side entrance. This, no doubt, is an allusion to communism, as Hungarians see it: monumental and empty at the same time, as well as simultaneously hermetic. Inside already, there are several wonderful statues, no matter what ideology they correspond to.

Image: Marimonda World.

One of the most emblematic sculptures is the monument to Stalin, represented only by boots. The rest of the statue had been severed in the past, as an act of protest.

Finally, another memorable statue is that of Lenin, to which in former times the Hungarians had hung a sign that read: “No more smirking, Lenin, this won’t last forever either, nor were the 150 years of Ottoman occupation enough to turn us into Turks”.

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