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The area in the immediate vicinity of the (1) Hungarian Parliament (Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3; www.mkogy.hu) contains numerous buildings and statues, which speak volumes about the city and its history. This gentle walk begins in Kossuth tér, the large square by Parliament, one of the biggest national assembly buildings in Europe. “A true reflection of a small nation with big ambitions and rich in talent.”—Judit Petrányi, journalist. Despite its medieval appearance, the parliament is actually just over a century old. It is possible to view its rich interior.

At the north end of the square stands a sculptural composition, the central figure of which is a (2) statue of Lajos Kossuth, the leader of Hungary’s 1848-49 War of Independence against Hapsburg rule. To its right is the imposing building of the (3) Museum of Ethnography (12 Kossuth Lajos tér; www.neprajz.hu), originally constructed in the late 19th century as the Supreme Court. Its attractive, permanent exhibition covers the history of Hungarian folk art and customs. “Colorful and well worth the visit.”—Piroska Nagy, folk art specialist and teacher.

Walking towards the center of the square, you encounter (4) “The Flame of Revolution,” a somewhat severe marble block with eternal flame, placed here in 1996 to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. Across the main part of the square a (5) symbolic grave recalls a notorious massacre of Hungarian demonstrators, which occurred here during the uprising. Beyond this stands a striking equestrian (6) statue of Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II, who led the 1703-11 War of Independence against the Habsburgs. Like Kossuth’s, Rákóczi’s liberation war was also doomed to failure, yet both leaders are regarded as national heroes.

A short stroll to the south end of Parliament brings you to the seated (7) statue of Attila József, one of Hungary’s most noted 20th-century poets. József, who came from a poor Budapest background and who always regarded himself as an outsider was, as is suggested here, prone to depression. Indeed, at the age of 32 he committed suicide a fate that has befallen many prominent Hungarians.

Continuing to the southeast corner of Kossuth tér, you reach the small Vértanúk tere, in the middle of which is an intriguing (8) statue of Imre Nagy, who became prime minister during the 1956 uprising and who was subsequently executed. The communist and Hungarian patriot Nagy is portrayed standing in the middle of a bridge—perhaps a symbol of the many ambiguities of 1956.

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About Budapest and Hungary

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