After spending a month in Budapest, I have lots of thoughts and impressions on the city, but the biggest first impression remains the primary one:
Budapest really, *really* loves statues.
It seems like every street corner, every square, most buildings, and pretty much any nook or cranny or park that could possibly have a statue, does.
You have the amazing communist-era statues, many of which were relocated to a thoughtful park in the suburbs after communism fell:
You have some that were left in place where they were, like the statue of liberty at the Citadella and the other statues next to her:
Some were moved and repurposed and renamed multiple times, like a female nude that started as a nationalist symbol of Hungaria during the communist era, then was moved to one of the thermal baths and renamed as a nice inoffensive ‘woman bathing’ after communism, then was moved to another city in Hungary altogether.
There are all the ones you’d expect of famous historic Hungarians, rulers, soldiers, poets, writers, etc, and of course there are some that seem purely decorative/artistic, in fountains and on buildings and so on.
Then it gets a bit odd, as they start adding in statues of people that Hungary apparently admired — a big statue of Ronald Reagan, for example, and another one of George Washington; or my favorite: a random statue of Columbo, installed well after Peter Falk died, on a street named for a totally unrelated Falk:
One of my favorite statues is of St Gellért on a hillside above one of the bridges, where he was martyred. It’s huge but also difficult to see on foot because of where it’s placed. My later research gave me this info, and also clarified that there’s a pagan warrior at his feet. When I found the statue, my phone translated the small plaque as “Old Man with Religion” and I assumed the creature at his feet was a demon. I liked it better with that interpretation, but I suppose either one is fine. I love how he’s hidden away in the trees:
There’s this one of their first king (and saint) who (literally, judging by the statue) brought the catholic church to Hungary:
This was another favorite, just because it was one of the most confusing. Apparently it honors a poet/monk named Virág Benedek, which Google translates as “Flower Benedek”, which is delightful. I don’t know if Virág is the figure holding the… coin? Head on a platter? Or maybe he is the head/coin? In any case:
There are so many statues in Budapest, they don’t know where to put them all: