One fine autumnal day in Budapest, we caught the quaint Budapest underground up Andrassy Avenue to Heroes’ Square or Hosok Tere as it’s known in Hungarian. Once a site of Soviet Oppression, now a beautiful sprawling square surrounded by statues of Hungary’s forefathers.
Standing in the middle are the Magyar chieftains who first settled in the Carpathian Basin. The seven chieftains stand tall on their copper horses looking very much like the ring wraiths from Lord of the Rings. The detail in these statues is astounding and beautiful, so I was a bit disappointed to discover the artist had used a generous helping of artistic license. Standing proudly in the colonnade are the founding Kings of Hungary, including Hungary’s first king – Saint Stephen (Szent István).
Heroes’ Square was once the site of a megalithic statue of Stalin, a symbol of the Soviet oppression the Hungarian people were forced to suffer. In the uprising of 1956 people set upon the statue and tore it down, leaving behind only his boots which they could not remove. The head of the statue was also removed and disfigured by the crowds and left lying defiantly in the streets.
Behind Heroes’ Square is a pretty park with winding paths, a pond and all the autumn foliage you could dream of. On top of these prestigious park credentials, it also houses the Széchenyi thermal bath and a fantastical fairytale castle!
This castle was built not for some long-gone Princess of Budapest, but as a celebration of Hungarian architecture for the Millennial Exhibition in 1896 celebrating 1000 years since our copper horsemen conquered the Carpathian Basin. As such it is an architectural mish-mash of other well known castles throughout Hungary. For being a frankenstein of buildings it sure wears it well.
It’s called Vajdahunyad Castle – don’t ask me to say that out aloud! And it currently houses the Museum of Agriculture (yawn) something tells me the best way to appreciate this castle is from the outside!