It was recommended that we take a stroll from one end of Andrassy to the other, so we did just that after our magnificent spa day at Szenchenyi Thermal Bath. We walked past the fascinating Vajdahunyadvar Castle, originally built in cardboard and wood for the 1896 millennial celebration of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian basin, and designed by Ignac Alpar to illustrate architectural techniques throughout history. The castle was so beloved it was rebuilt of stone, and is well-worth a visit. The Budapest Zoo warrants a look-see as well, though we didn’t make it there this trip. Designed in the Art Nouveau style, the buildings are works of art independent of the animals housed there.
Millennium Monument in Heroes Square was built to celebrate 1,000 years of Hungary
The monument comprises two curved colonnades, each with seven statues between the massive columns, as well as two large statues on top of each colonnade. The paired colonnades frame a cenotaph and monumental column. The column has Archangel Gabriel on top, with the founders of the Magyar dynasty clustered around the base. The cenotaph salutes all those who fell in defense of Hungary, starting with the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian basin in 895.
Something is always going on at Heroes Square in Budapest
The figures in the colonnade are Hungarian leaders in roughly historical order, starting with Stephen I, who received the crown from the Pope, on the left, and ending with Lajos Kossuth, who rallied the peasants of the Great Plain. While there, we heard what sounded like folk music and saw lots of Transylvanian flags flying.
As we continued up Andrassy Boulevard toward city center, we saw embassies, consulate compounds, beautiful houses, buildings, and some charming details. We popped into MagHaz Cafe for a quick bite – a lovely little spot with healthy choices, an exquisite library, an imaginative separate children’s playroom, and an inviting performance space[photo carousel]. We couldn’t linger long – we were determined to visit TerrorHaza (The House of Terror – a museum dedicated to the fascist and communist regimes of the 20th century), so continued walking apace.
The House of Terror Museum retains the ghosts of its fascist past
When we reached 60 Andrassy Boulevard and TerrorHaza’s ticket counter at 5 pm, the clerk was reluctant to sell us tickets, saying that a visit really required two hours. We convinced her to let us purchase tickets, and entered the exhibition, pausing to check my bag and select a biocard of one of the hundreds who perished here.
The atmosphere from the street on in through the doors seemed hushed and extremely solemn. And no wonder – it was home of the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazi terror group), then the State Security Office and finally State Security Authority, dealing terror and death to fellow country folk from 1937 through 1956. The house was designed by Adolf Feszty in 1880. The fascist group, the Arrow Cross Party, rented space in the building starting 1937. They called it “House of Loyalty”, and toward the end of World War II, were using the cellar of the house as a torture and death chamber for hundreds of people.
By 1945, Hungary was under Soviet occupation and ultimately, control, switching between two authoritarian regimes, the fascist Arrow Cross/Nazi and the communist/Soviet system. The Department for Political Police at 60 Andrassy morphed into the State Security Office, then finally the State Security Authority (AVH). The AVH was a shadow terror organization, encouraging family, friends, and coworkers to inform on one another, theraby destroying bonds within communities. Before the organization left the building in 1956, it occupied the entire block, with the cellars connected to create a stygian maze of prison cells.
The building was renovated into the current museum which opened in 2002. It is painted dark grey/black on the outside with a series of black and white images of people who perished here, along the outside wall. A visit here is a sobering reminder that no country is ever safe from totalitarian policies; well-worth the 1-2 hour visit. No photography is allowed. No bags are allowed either, with mandatory checking at the free cloakroom. Even though you cannot take photographs, feel free to grab a copy of the English/German/Hungarian guide sheets available in each exhibit.
End your day with whimsical atmosphere and fare Down the Rabbit Hole
We continued our considerably subdued jaunt down Andrassy, but were quickly lured into a side street by some exceptional advertising for Down the Rabbit Hole, a new subterranean pocket pub just off Andrassy. The two owners (both there when we popped in) created a warm and inviting spot with whimsical decor based on Alice’s adventures. The food menu looked promising, but we were headed to a friend’s recommended Hungarian restaurant, so after a drink and engaging in some lively discussion with the owners, we headed back out and finished our walk to the hotel.
Definitely take a stroll down Andrassy if you can. A walk through time, culture and history awaits. If you can’t get there quite yet, join us virtually. And book with Dragon in Your Pocket to get a true taste of Hungarian adventure and history!!
- Szechenyi Thermal Baths, 9-11 Allakerti korut Street, Budapest District XiV H-1146; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph: +36 1 363 3210; Hours: Baths- 6am – 10pm Monday through Sunday, Help Desk: 9am – 6pm; Prices range from 4900-5900 HUF for entry and cabin rental.
- Vajdahunyad Var (Castle), City Park Budapest, District XIV, H-1146; Hours: Summer Tues-Sun 10am – 5pm, Winter Tues-Fri 10am – 4pm, Sat-Sun 10am – 5pm; Prices: Free Courtyard only, Adults: 1600 HUF, Senior/Child: 800 HUF.
- Budapest Zoo, H-1146 Budapest, Allakerti krt. 6-12, Ph: +36 1 273 4900, Hours: Vary, but roughly winter 9am – 4pm, summer 9am – 7pm, Prices: Adult: 2800 HUF, Child: 1900 HUF.
- MagHaz Cafe, 98 Andrassy Boulevard, H-1062, Ph: +36 1 457 0008, email: email@example.com; Cafe Hours: 8am – 10pm daily
- TerrorHaza, 60 Andrassy Boulevard, H-1062, Ph: +36 374 2600, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm (ticket desk closes 5.30), except certain holidays; Prices: Adults: 3000 HUF Student/Senior (only EU citizens): 1500 HUF. Note that photographs are not allowed inside the exhibition, nor are bags.
- Down the Rabbit Hole Bar & Cafe, 17-19 Eotvos utca, H-1062, Ph: +36 30 701 3647, email: email@example.com; Hours: Noon – 10pm daily. Facebook: RabbitHolebp
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