Following WWII, Budapest was firmly brought under Soviet occupation and only escaped the harsh embrace of Communism in 1989, when the Iron Curtain came down across Europe and democracy was (largely) restored.
Under Communism, scores of statues celebrating Marx, Lenin and Engels were erected as propaganda tools around Budapest. They were all uniformly monumental in scale, made out of concrete and downright ugly, and were soon joined by equally vast statues of Hungarian Communist leaders Béla Kun and Arpád Szakasits as well as gigantic allegorical monuments to Soviet heroism.
When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1989 and Hungary began to enjoy its first vestiges of independence, these monolithic reminders of years of suppression were torn down and carted off to Memento Park on the city’s south-west outskirts. Here they are displayed as a grim reminder of Communism and the Cold War along with an old Trabant and a half-destroyed statue of Lenin, which was desecrated in the 1956 rebellion.
The park is dominated by the 20-foot (six-m) statue of a wild-eyed liberation soldier, arms flung wide, hammer and sickle in his hand and gun slung around his neck; this once stood on the top of Gellért Hill and was seen as a symbol of Budapest’s repression.
Memento Park is on the corner of Balatoni and Szabadkai streets in Budapest XXII. Opening times are 10am-sunset daily. Admission is discounted with Budapest Card. Bus no 150 from Fehérvári út to Memento Park; journey takes about 30 minutes. A direct shuttle runs daily at 11am from Deák tér metro station.