As participants of one of the most recent History Camps observed, and as Vida writes here, Budapest is a lovely European city. There is a nice square with water fountains, and behind them there is the stunning architecture of the Hungarian parliament. However, even the now beautiful places often have its much more gloomy past. Have a look at what kind of past hides the parliament in Budapest.
The first stop of our History Camp “Backpacking Visegrad“ was the capital of Hungary, Budapest.
In the evening the lights coloured the streets in warm yellow and together with other History Campers I went to the river-bank, overlooking the magnificent Hungarian parliament. The parliament building stood majestically on the waterfront of the Danube river in Pest, while we were standing on the other river-bank, in Buda. We were laughing, talking and simply enjoying the view. The magnificent architecture of the parliament and the overwhelming friendly atmosphere created the first great and unforgettable impression of the city.
Historical background: the game-changer
On our last day in Budapest these impressions got some historical background. A city guide took us on a tour and confronted us with the past of the famous tourist sights. He described those events in a way, which in combination with my imagination, created lively pictures of the past. The Budapest history came to life. I could imagine the tanks invading Budapest, the shootings and the riots on the streets. The Hungarian uprising was certainly a remarkable event that shaped the city centre of Budapest. One of the consequences of the year 1956 is that you can hardly see old, historical buildings in the centre of Hungarian capital.
The place of (selfie) shooting
The last stop of our guided tour was just in front of the parliament. The guide told us about the bloody shootings on the protesters, which happened just on that spot 60 years ago. In 1956 people were gathering on the square in front of the parliament, demanding national independence, democracy and relief from the Soviet dictatorship. As it can be seen in the photo below, protesters were waving with flags and peacefully stating their claims. However, in the end the crowd of protesters was much bigger as the one in the picture. Estimations are that around 200.000 people took part in the protest that was most cruelly put down on the 23th of October 1956.
Nowadays there are fountains and statues in front of the parliament’s entry and people are either taking pictures of the stunning building and the soldiers in traditional uniforms or just making funny pictures as we did. We were jumping and holding each other’s hands, while taking numerous photos. Yet, a thought about history of this place crossed my mind, and once more I imagined the huge mass of people protesting in front of the parliament, while being shot at for simply stating their opinions. It is hard to grasp the fact that such a beautiful place has such a dark history.