Memento Park, Budapest’s statue park

The great statues of communist propaganda are collected and displayed in one of Budapest's most original attractions: the Memento Park.

Feeling teeny-weeny next to giant statues, climbing aboard a Trabant, talking on the phone with the most famous communist leaders, discovering the secrets of a professional spy-these are some of the experiences you can have when you visit Memento Park, Budapest’s statue park.

This attraction commemorates one of the most difficult periods in Hungarian history, when the country was a satellite of the Soviet communist regime.

Memento Park is not a museum about communism but about the fall of communism and is not intended to give the visitor a subjective viewpoint. It does not honor what has been and does not ironize: the setting and is deliberately neutral.

The monumental statues of communist propaganda that once intimidated observers with their sheer size and official poses are now just a sad testament to a fake glory. Ironically, communism has become the thematic subject for a thriving industry of kitschy souvenirs, bordering on good taste, fueling the very capitalism it was intended to combat.

During your Budapest vacation, take some time to get out of the city center and visit Memento Park, a unique attraction that will intrigue, amuse, and move you.

What to see at Memento Park

Here are all the attractions you can see during your visit to Memento Park.

Statue Park

The Statue Park is the main attraction of Budapest’s Memento Park: an area consisting of five semicircles within a larger circle where 42 statues made between 1945 and 1989 depicting communist leaders, important figures of the labor movement, soldiers and Red Army officers are displayed.

Among the historical figures depicted are Lenin, Marx, Engeles, Dimitrov, Captain Ostapenko, Bela Kun and many others.

One of the statues that most sticks in the memory of visitors is that of the proud Soldier of the Soviet Liberation Army holding the hammer and sickle flag. This 6-meter-high statue once stood atop Gellert Hill in central Budapest and dominated the city.

Two other works in the park are the allegorical monuments entitled Hungarian-Soviet Friendship and Liberation.

A booklet detailing the history of each statue can be purchased at the park entrance.

Park Judgment on Tyranny

Although little known to visitors, the official name of the Statue Park is “A Sentence about Tyranny Park,” which best expresses the concept behind its founding.

In the words of Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, conceptual designer of Memento Park, this is a monument that speaks of tyranny and at the same time, precisely as a space where it is permissible to speak of tyranny, it is a monument to democracy.

Stalin’s grandstand

The Stalin Grandstand is an original-sized replica of the grandstand used as a pedestal for a giant 8-meter-high statue of Stalin that once stood at Felvonulási tér in downtown Budapest. Communist parades were held here, during which party leaders sat on the grandstand at the foot of Stalin’s statue waving to the crowds, who showed forced enthusiasm to them.

The statue became a hated symbol of the megalomania that characterizes every dictatorship. In 1956, at the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution, the people angrily tore down the statue, leaving only the boots intact.

The replica of the tribune also includes these boots without a body wearing them: an emblematic sight, which some visitors find disturbing, others melancholy, and others see as the most representative image of the end of a utopian dream.

Trabant 601

Adding to the park’s many giant statues is a much smaller attraction capable of stealing the show from the great heads of state who changed the history of Europe: an original model of a Trabant car, the people’s car in communist Germany.

There is no tourist who does not love to have their picture taken alongside this object that became, for better or worse, the symbol of an era. After photographing it you can climb aboard the car and take a look inside.

Museum of Communism

Inside the park is a museum that replicates a communist-era military barracks.

The permanent exhibit on display at the museum emphasizes two crucial events in the history of Hungary in the 20th century: the 1956 revolution and the collapse of the communist regime in 1989-90; a section is also dedicated to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the revolution.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Life of an agent

How were communist spies selected? How did they manage to search a house without arousing suspicion? How did they hide spy bugs? Discover these and other secrets of a communist spy with the documentary“Life of an Agent” on view at Memento Park.

This unique documentary is a montage of original footage made between 1958 and 1988 by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior for the training of secret police officers.

The film runs for about an hour and is subtitled in English.

Direct line to comrades

Memento Park also has its quirky sides: the kitsch peaks with the so-called“Direct Line to Comrades,” an old corded telephone that allows you to listen to the most famous speeches of dictators and communist leaders.

You can listen to the voice of Stalin, Lenin, Fidel Castro, Honecker, Ceausescu, Brezhnev and even Che Guevara talking about communism, humanity, the future.

Red Star Store

At the end of your visit to the Statue Park and other Memento Park attractions stop by the Red Star Store to fill up on communist-themed souvenirs and gadgets.

You won’t find historical memorabilia for sale, but a wide selection of items ranging from faux vintage to bad taste, including replicas of Red Army medals, model Trabant cars, propaganda posters, candles in the shape of Stalin’s face, and CDs with the music of communist marches.

The kitschiest souvenir? A can containing the last breath of communism.

History

During the period of the communist regime in Budapest, as in all other communist countries, numerous statues were erected for propaganda purposes depicting party leaders and other symbols related to the working class.

At the moment of the collapse of the regime, citizens of communist countries, finally free from the oppression of dictatorship, angrily tore down the statues symbolizing power. This did not happen in Budapest, where most of the statues were saved.

In 1991, only two years after the fall of the Soviet regime, the city of Budapest launched a competition to design the park, which was won by Ákos Eleőd.

The park was opened to the public in 1993, but it remains unfinished to this day, which is why the arrangement of statues appears somewhat haphazard.

Entrance fees and tours

Admission tickets to Memento Park, Budapest Statue Park can be purchased online at a discount or directly at the park’s ticket offices. Students with a valid student card pay reduced ticket.

Memento Park is one of the attractions included in the Budapest Card, Budapest’s city tourist card. Admission for Budapest Card holders is free, plus there is a discount for the direct bus transfer.

Guided tours in English are organized daily: you can visit the park in the company of an experienced guide who will tell you trivia, anecdotes, gossip, funny stories, and dramatic tales of the communist era.

Tour times vary depending on the season; duration is about 50 minutes. The price of admission does not include tours, which incur an additional charge.

How to get to Memento Park

Memento Park is located about 20 minutes from downtown Budapest. It can be reached by public transportation or by a direct transfer bus, which, however, operates with only one run per day.

The direct bus is therefore the easiest way to get there, but you will be tied to the departure times from the center to the park and vice versa.

Useful information

Address

Budapest, Balatoni út - Szabadkai utca sarok, 1222 Hungary

Contacts

TEL: +36 30 500 0925

Timetables

  • Monday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Tuesday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Wednesday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Thursday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Friday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00

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