Heroes’ Square in Budapest

Heroes’ Square, or Hosok tere in Hungarian, is one of the main squares in Budapest and is located next to the city park. It was created in 1896 to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary. Sitting in the middle of the square is the Millennium Monument and the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art sit on opposite sides of the square. At the time that Heroes’ Square was created, Hungary was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and some of the statues in the square today replaced those that paid tribute to the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty.

Heroes’ Square
Top of the Millennium Monument
Hungarian Ruler
Statues of the Seven Chieftains

We took the underground to the station that is across the street from Heroes’ Square, which is the easiest way to get to the square and city park from downtown. On the day that we visited the square, there was a demonstration going on advocating for peace. The colorful flags surrounding the tomb-like Memorial Stone, which is not an actual tomb, but meant as a tribute to all of those who died protecting Hungary over its 1,000 year history.

Memorial that Looks Like a Tomb
One of the Many Statues
Statue Between the Columns

There are a series of statues on either side of the Millennium Monument. On top of the columns on the left is a male statue that represents a symbol of war and on the of the columns on the right is a female statue representing peace. In between each of the columns are statues of historic figures in Hungarians history along with a mural below their statue meant to represent their major accomplishment. In addition to the columns with their statues, the base of the monument also has statues depicting the seven chieftains of the tribes who originally founded Hungary.

Representing War
Representing Peace
Vajdahunyad Castle Near Heroes Square
Paddle Boats

Visiting Heroes’ Square is definitely fascinating on its own, but we would highly recommend that you combine it with a tour of the city park. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough on the day that we were there, but there are paddle boats that can be rented to go out onto the lake. There is also the Vajdahunyad Castle and the Budapest Zoo are also located in the park. It is also just a nice place to spend a couple of hours walking the paths and enjoying the scenery. Depending upon how much you decide to see while there, you can easily spend an entire day at the park.

Shoes on the Danube Bank

One of the interesting things that we saw when we were in Budapest was a memorial to honor the citizens, most of them Jewish, who were executed along the shore of Danube River. In December 1944 and January 1945, as World War II came closer to an end, the local fascist militia group called the Arrow Cross killed thousands of people along the shore of the river. It is a humbling reminder of the atrocities that were committed during the war. Making it even more tragic is the inclusion of the shoes of children as entire families were brought to the shore to be executed.

Iron Shoes Along the Bank of the Danube
Children and Adult Shoes
You Can Almost Imagine the People Standing Next to Their Shoes

Soldiers from the Arrow Cross would go to the Jewish Ghetto, where the majority of the Jewish citizens of Budapest were forced to live in horrid conditions, and take them to be executed along the river. The Budapest Ghetto was made up of several blocks of the Jewish Quarter that were surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that completely isolated them from the rest of the city. The reason for the shoes as the memorial is that they would be forced to remove their shoes before being executed. According to one of the people that worked at our hotel, the soldiers would tie groups of people together and then shoot the first few in line so that they would fall and then drag in everyone else to drown. Apparently it was done in an attempt to save on bullets, which were needed as the Soviet Union forces approached.

Walking Among the Shoes
Even Starker Without the Flowers
Flowers and Candles

The memorial was erected in 2005 and was conceived by director Can Togay and consists of 60 pairs of shoes made out of iron that attached to the stone embankment. We visited the Shoes on the Danube Bank on a rainy day, which only added to the impression that it created. People leave flowers among the shoes to honor the memories of all of the people who lost their lives there.