Tag Archives: hungary

House of Terror, Budapest

The House of Terror Museum in Budapest stands as a stark reminder of – and a monument to – fascist and communist regimes (and their victims) leading up to and following World War II. The museum opened in 2002 in the building used by the Arrow Cross Party, AVH (Hungarian Secret Police), and Nazi Party.

Roof of the House of Terror

Coming to Budapest, we knew that this was a museum that we really wanted to visit. Our AirBNB was located only a couple hundred meters from the museum so we had no trouble finding our way there. The museum is at Andrassy ut 60, the primary street running down the Pest side of the city towards Hero’s Square.

Advertisement for a movie about the Revolution

We decided to visit on October 23 – Day of the Republic – the 60th anniversary. The initial reasoning for this was that museums are free on national holidays, and we were on a budget. But we would come to realize a certain poignancy to our decision to visit that day. The Day of the Republic commemorates the revolution of 1956, and the overthrow of the Arrow Cross Party on November 10.

Growing up in the US attending public school, history classes rarely cover Hungary. Usually nothing more than the most generic of world history is taught if not directly related to the US. So this museum really brought to light an important and dark period of history I was completely unaware of.

Arrival to House of Terror

Our day started early, as we assumed that the museum would get crowded and that we might have to wait a while to get in. And we did. The line wrapped around the side of the building for about a hundred meters or so and slowly meandered it’s way to the front door. On the outside were pictures of victims and martyrs from the Nazi, Arrow Cross Party, and Soviet Communist Occupation. 

Line to House of Terror
Victim Portraits

Walking through the front entrance, ominous music played, conveying the cold Soviet demeanor that would be the motif of the museum. It took us a few minutes to get through and drop our coats and cameras at the storage area. No photography of any kind is permitted. Initially, we assumed it was busy because of the holiday, but it turns out that the museum is usually busy. So prepare for crowds.

House of Terror Exhibits

Inside, you will find that the museum consists of 3 floors and a basement. Each floor wraps around a central atrium, at the center of which is an old Soviet T-54 tank in a pool of water.

We began on the top floor and made our way down. Each exhibition takes a significant amount of time to work your way through and is excellently curated. You can find an extensive amount of information in both Hungarian and English, although there were a few sections that could use additional English explanation.

One enjoyable aspect is the abundant video footage and interviews with the Hungarian people. While dark, and not kid-friendly at times, these are very informative and far more captivating than placards on a wall.

Another nice feature, every room provided a printed information sheet in Hungarian or English to take. These are very detailed, and even multiple pages long. The information helped reinforce the message of each exhibit and allowed for visitors to peruse the exhibit without crowding around a plaque.

The museum covers the history of Hungary’s revolutions directly following and before World War II. It explores the relationships of the Hungarians with the German Nazis, USSR, and KGB. Numerous exhibitions cover arrests, gulags, imprisonments, torture, propaganda, murder, and resistance.

In the basement, they have kept the cells that were used to hold and break prisoners to the will of the communist regime. They are dark, cold, and dingy – a miserable place to be.

The experience of the museum is truly somber and sobering. It brings to light the atrocities committed and how easy it is for people to take these actions. But it also highlights the strength of the Hungarian people to resist. That pride still shows today, and especially around the time of the holiday. It shows in the Hungarian flag with a circle cut out of the center. The Hungarian people removed the communist insignia from the center of the flag during the revolution.

Hungarian Flag

House of Terror Exterior Display

The museum does not allow for photography or videography inside. This limits us on what we can show here from the interior. But out front, there is an exhibition as well. Numerous plaques in English and Hungarian detail various events and individuals from the resistance. As well,  a monument made of chains (the “iron curtain”) stands before the entrance. 

Chains of Communisim
Berlin Wall Piece

Revolution Plaque
Terror House Plaque
Terror House Plaque
Retailiation Plaque

I could say a lot more but regardless, the museum is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Budapest. It does an excellent job displaying the history of this tumultuous time.

Visit the House of Terror

Address:  Andrássy út 60, Budapest, Hungary

Hours: 10am – 6pm (Closed Mondays)

Cost: 2000 HUF (~$7.25)

~K~

Pretty City

Budapest Video

Budapest Video Compilation

Here is a brief Budapest Video showing off some of our time in Budapest, Hungary. It seems that in Europe (Cyprus, Serbia, Hungary) we focused a lot more on taking pictures and follow/spin videos than taking other video.

There were quite a few of these (follow and spin videos) from these countries which I did not find until after I made those video or did not include for some reason. Therefore, despite the fact that we spent a substantial amount of time in each of these locations, we just don’t have a ton of video footage. As per normal I also had to get rid of all the videos that were just too shaky, bad angles, too short, etc. which is typically well over half of them. The video does show many of the top touristy spots, though.

~B~

Hungarian National Museum

Half way through our stay in Budapest, we decided that we were going to visit the Hungarian National Museum. The cost of Budapest tested our budget, so we tried to go on the national holiday, during which time the museums were free. We had first gone to the House Of Terror and expected to follow up with the National Museum, but we had severely underestimated how tired we would be from all the walking and just how much time we could spend at the House of Terror.

With time flying by, we decided that we needed to see the museum. We regretted not seeing the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, so with a little insistence and determination we got up and began the walk to the museum.

It was a pretty brisk day as we made our way. We set off just after lunch, covered up in our winter gear. The walk from our AirBNB took about thirty minutes, but the time passed quickly as we made our way down the busy roads.

HungarianMuseum_2

Get In

Entering the grounds, we were greeted by a large columned facade sitting atop a wide staircase. The building was reminiscent of a Greek or Roman temple. The museum was first created in 1802 and initially set up as the National Széchényi Library. In 1807 it became the museum and the Hungarian Parliament donated to the institution multiple times. In 1846, the museum relocated to its current location.

Briana on Steps of Hungarian Museum

Entering the building, we came into a large marble room. Here we purchased the tickets to the museum for 1,600 HUF (~$5.50) each. Because of the cold weather, we had obviously had our jackets on and were directed down to the basement to store our coats and backpack. The coat storage was pretty straight forward, and gave us a great place to begin our exploration of the museum.

Basement Exhibitions

The museum has a huge collection of gravestones dating all the way back to Roman times through to the Modern era. We went around the large basement room, checking out the headstones and stone carvings. In the center of the room was a very large tile mosaic.

Headstone
Kyle Near Tombstones
Large Mosaic

Neolithic and Early Magyar Exhibitions

After the basement, we proceeded up to the main floor. Here we were able to learn about the paleolithic and early history of Hungary and the surrounding region. There was a heavy emphasis on the iron age and early migration of the Magyar people. I found it pretty interesting, and the museum presented the information very well. 

Bones at Hungarian Museum

Once we finished this hall, we visited the other hall on this floor. It was very interesting and started to get into the medieval history. So here we got to see more exquisite artifacts such as swords, royal jewelry, armor and other such things. We also got to see the influence of east Asian migrations. While it never occurred to me initially, it actually makes a lot of sense considering Hungary’s location on the continent that it would receive a fair amount of migration.

Ancient artifacts

The exhibition halls are very large and takes a pretty good while to get through. Once finishing the main floor, we proceeded up a grand staircase to the second floor. The ceiling of the staircase was painted with intricate murals.

Hungarian Museum Grand Stair

Modern Hungary

The second floor was even more interesting than the first floor, and it really had some interesting items. There were several rooms and halls on the floor to check out. We didn’t pay to see the special, temporary exhibition, but we did see the other halls.

Museum Hall
Portrait of a Noblewoman

These halls covered the more modern events of Hungary, particularly the Communist uprising and subsequent fall. The Terror Museum covered this far more in depth, but it was nice to have multiple perspectives and sources on such an important event in Hungarian history.

With tired feet, we made our way out and down the front steps of the museum. By this time, the sun had set and rain had begun to fall. We pulled out only remaining umbrella and set out to further explore the city.

To visit the museum, you can find it located at:

Budapest, Múzeum krt. 14-16, 1088 Hungary

It’s hours are: Tuesday through Sunday 10am – 6pm.

~K~

Kyle and Briana outside of Hungarian National Museum