Budapest: Opera to Heroes’ Square

State Opera House
Our hotel in Budapest was called the Opera Garden – the clue is in the name: it was very near the State Opera House which we passed regularly. It’s very grand and adorned with a wonderful collection of composers’ statues:

Here’s a slightly dodgy set of iPhone photos of the interior from the night we went to see a ballet version of Anna Karenina.

And finally from the Opera, here we are having lunch in the Café on the day we left for the airport (and very good it was too).

The Opera House lies on Andrassy út, Budapest’s longest and grandest avenue.  There are many more interesting sights both on it and in the surrounding streets, such as the tiled Mai Manó House. During the interwar years it was “the most glamorous nightclub I have ever visited” (Patrick Leigh Fermor) and long before that it was home to the Hapsburg court photographer after whom it was named. Fittingly, it is now a photography museum.

Nearby is the Operetta Theatre and more quirky sculptures. Miklós Radnóti, the leaning statue, was a poet who was shot in 1944 while serving in a Jewish labour brigade.

Further up Andrassy út is the House of Terror, once the dreaded headquarters of the secret police under both the Fascist Arrow Cross in World War 2 and the Communists. The exhibits here were horrific, particularly the reconstructed torture chamber in the basement. It’s hard to believe what people can do to each other: the veneer of civilisation is very thin. Outside is a monument to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Andrassy út ends at Hósök tere (Heroes’ Square), a ceremonial plaza centred on the 36m high Millenary Monument. The gilded building pictured is the Museum of Fine Arts.

Beyond Heroes’ Square is Városliget (City Park) with its fairy tale castle and pseud-Romanesque Chapel.

Also in the park are the Széchenyi Baths which have their own thermal spring. We didn’t bathe but went inside to admire the décor. It could be a palace not a swimming pool!

Nearby are three monuments which measure Hungary’s progress since the fall of communism. The Timewheel is the world’s largest hourglass which, on the last day of each year, rotates 180º to symbolise becoming part of the European Union in 2004. Where a statue to Stalin once stood is the Monument to the Uprising, a forest of oxidised columns and a Hungarian flag with a hole in the centre to recall the cutting out of the Soviet symbol in 1956. Beyond this, a crucifix rises over the foundations of the Virgin Mary Church that the Communists demolished in 1951.

I fear this has not been a very uplifting post: too many links to death and destruction, even though I’ve tried not to dwell on them. Next time, I’ll try to do better – I have an island and a cave for you.

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47 thoughts on “Budapest: Opera to Heroes’ Square

  1. the eternal traveller May 15, 2017 / 12:21

    Everyone we know who has been to Budapest has loved it. I can see why, and it’s on our list for future travels.

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  2. Jemima Pett May 15, 2017 / 12:48

    It would be very difficult to tell the difference between the Budapest Opera House and the Vienna Opera House without the cabs. Maybe the Vienna one is bigger, but the styles and the surrounds are very similar.
    I had no idea of the history of the city… it sounds horrifying, as you say, but good to appreciate to prevent it happening again.

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    • Anabel Marsh May 15, 2017 / 12:59

      Vienna is still on my list – maybe next year? It’s good that they are open about the past as hopefully, as you say the more likely that is to prevent such things happening again. Though the sate of the world today is not promising.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ellen May 15, 2017 / 12:49

    I think it’s important to share about your visit to the less “uplifting” parts of Budapest. It’s an important part of the city’s history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh May 15, 2017 / 12:57

      You’re right – and they are tackling their legacy, though maybe not as extensively as Berlin.

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  4. claudiabookwright May 15, 2017 / 12:55

    The architecture is wonderful — a fantasy of color and decoration that obviously is not downtrodden by the very human error of war. Beautiful photos. Kudos to John.

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    • Anabel Marsh May 15, 2017 / 13:00

      It was so beautiful, Claudia. And I didn’t get at all impatient at all the lens-changing involved in getting these pictures. Well, maybe only a teensy bit …….

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  5. restlessjo May 15, 2017 / 13:53

    Well, I was just thinking that at least someone is celebrating being part of Europe, Anabel. And the Opera House looks a wonderful venue. 🙂 I’m currently reading The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver. Promises to be another harrowing story. I ration myself to the occasional one but I can’t cope with related museums.

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    • Anabel Marsh May 15, 2017 / 14:14

      The House of Terror was certainly harrowing – there’s only so much I can take at one time though, so we brought away a lot of handouts to read later. I still have them – so far, unread.

      Lots of EU flags proudly flying all over the city.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. BeckyB May 15, 2017 / 15:54

    oh but all the art was uplifting – – I thought balanced out the death and destruction. Think it is good that they remember their horrors . . .and think we should do the same as should the USA! I agree though too much can be overwhelming.

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  7. susan@onesmallwalk May 15, 2017 / 16:12

    Such a beautiful city – glad you got the chance to visit. I was impressed by how walkable it was, and you seemed to have covered every inch!

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    • Anabel Marsh May 15, 2017 / 16:44

      Almost! We were exhausted at the end of it. At least I didn’t have to go back to work, unlike John.

      Liked by 1 person

      • susan@onesmallwalk May 16, 2017 / 21:07

        Ahh – the vacation after the vacation! I have no idea how I functioned when I had to work as well as live my life 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy May 15, 2017 / 17:33

    It may be a post full of death and destruction, but no harm in remembering those less-than-pleasant aspects of life sometimes.

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  9. Kathleen Jennette May 15, 2017 / 18:34

    That Iron Curtain memorial. Need I say more. Humbled, and as an American embarrassed to all hell for having a president who wants one. One would think lessons learned.

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  10. Eunice May 15, 2017 / 19:15

    Great photos, I love the architecture 🙂

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  11. Donna May 16, 2017 / 00:25

    It IS hard to believe what people can do to each other. I look forward to seeing pics of your island and cave!

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    • Anabel Marsh May 16, 2017 / 07:41

      Thanks, Donna. The House of Terror was a very chilling experience.

      Like

  12. Blue Sky Scotland May 16, 2017 / 00:51

    I liked the Iron Curtain sculpture- more obvious to understand than Berlin’s no man’s land expanse of concrete blocks which I found slightly baffling as a concept of what it was supposed to represent. Wonder if the UK will get a time-wheel marking any significant changes after we leave the EU?

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    • Anabel Marsh May 16, 2017 / 07:44

      A time wheel to disaster? In my view anyway*

      *Other views are available!

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  13. hilarymb May 16, 2017 / 07:19

    Hi Anabel – wonderful architecture and sculptural craft – I’d love to visit one day. You referenced Patrick Leigh Fermor .. I don’t remember that aspect – but he writes wonderfully well. Someone was telling me about their trip to Budapest and started telling me about things and I asked them to stop – did they no … I think people should listen! So I know what you’re talking about here … just appalling and there are worse happening all the time – man is cruel. So glad you had a happy time though … Hilary

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    • Anabel Marsh May 16, 2017 / 07:46

      There were some unbelievably horrific things in that museum. Unthinkable – you would think – yet they keep happening.

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  14. Coral Waight May 17, 2017 / 09:18

    Gorgeous opera house. You’re making me want to go to Budapest.

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  15. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) May 17, 2017 / 17:12

    The House of Terror was one of the few attractions I managed to see when I was in Budapest, and I agree, it is horrifying (but nonetheless very interesting). That statue that appears to have extra limbs looks cheery enough though, for all that he seems to be giving everyone the finger!

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    • Anabel Marsh May 17, 2017 / 17:33

      Not so cheery – there are two figures. The woman’s hat is next to the lamp post and her head is a skull. Looked at from the other side, you can see that she is holding the man’s detached head in her hand. Gruesome! We had other pictures from different angles but none makes it very clear and for space I just included one – should have put them all in!

      Like

  16. maristravels May 17, 2017 / 19:03

    How well I remember this. I was there about 20 years ago and couldn’t believe how cheap the entertainment was. Opera, ballet, light music concerts, we indulged ourselves the whole week and didn’t spend more than £60 I think.

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    • Anabel Marsh May 17, 2017 / 19:37

      Yes, we were surprised how little we paid for ballet tickets.

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  17. Susan at FindingNYC May 19, 2017 / 20:57

    So many fabulous architectural details and sculptures I cant choose what I like best. Your photos really make me want to go to Budapest!

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  18. Ann May 21, 2017 / 16:21

    Impressive pictures. It’s a shame we don’t learn from our past.
    Ann

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  19. Birgit May 23, 2017 / 02:57

    Not every post can be uplifting and always showing the beautiful side although it does show the beauty of the architecture and the sculpture. That first sculpture is weird with the workman’ feet but the man’s head. Some Men …and women do like torture which is disgusting and it still happens envy day.

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    • Anabel Marsh May 23, 2017 / 07:37

      Yes, it’s very depressing. Waking up to hideous news here this morning – terrorist attack in Manchester.

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  20. rosemaylily2014 May 30, 2017 / 09:17

    I opted not to do the House Of Terror and went to the Art Gallery instead. Monsieur went and found it a horrifying and sobering experience (I have visited a concentration camp before in Germany as I feel it’s important).

    Like

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