Explore the beautiful city of Budapest on this private walking tour all about the turbulent political history of Hungary, from the Nazi Occupation to the rise and fall of Communism and finally the birth of democracy. On your private tour you will:
- Enjoy the personalized attention of your private guide;
- Explore the beautiful Hungarian capital of Budapest with a focus on its political past;
- Commence your tour at the iconic Bem József Memorial Square – the site of the 1956 revolution;
- Walk outside the magnificent Parliament House and learn the backdrop of Hungarian politics from the preceding centuries to the 21st;
- Explore a collection of retro bars and butcher shops as you wander through the central district while discussing life under communist rule;
- Stop by monuments, squares, and statues commemorating the past, including Ronald Reagan in Liberty Square;
- Lastly finish your guided tour at the House of Terror Museum (entrance tickets included), where you will see exhibits and memorials to victims of those who lived behind the Iron Curtain.
Considered one of Europe’s most strikingly beautiful cities, Budapest, an amalgamation of Buda and Pest joined up in 1873, contains an incredible array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is split in two by the mighty River Danube, Europe’s second-longest river. The city is rich in geothermal water resources and is famous for its grand, mosaic-clad public bath-houses earning it the title of ‘World's Spa Capital.
Modern Budapest is a thriving metropolis, but it wasn’t always so, and on this private tour of the city, you will discover and explore the remnants of Nazism and Communism that still scar the soul of the city. Explore hidden backstreets, statues, and open commemorative squares as your guide tells you the stories of the people that made Budapest: from the Ottoman Empire of the 16th Century through the revolutions of the 1800s, the tragedies of World War 2, the Nazi Occupation, the Soviet Liberation, the 1956 revolution, the rise and fall of ‘Goulash Communism’ from the 1960s-80s, and the birth of modern democracy in 1989 with the fall of the Iron Curtain: all while standing in the places in which it all happened, or by the statues of those involved.
You’ll begin at Bem József Memorial Square, which saw 200,000 Hungarian students protesting against Soviet rule in 1956. (Bem József was a Polish general – a national hero of Poland and Hungary, who was one of the leaders of the 1848 Revolution). Following on from here you’ll stop by the statue of Imre Nagy, a politician and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic from 1953 to 1955, but, in 1956 he led the Revolution against the Soviet-backed government. For this, he was imprisoned and executed in 1958. He remains a heroic figure in the historic fight to topple Communism in Hungary.
You’ll wander down Falk Miksa street and see an unlikely statue of Columbo, the famous LAPD fictional detective, famous for his scruffy appearance and dogged determination to get to the truth at all costs. Why a statue of him here? It is believed Peter Falk, the actor who played him, was potentially related to the female political activist of the 19th century Miksa Falk and was also of Jewish descent. The statue is symbolic of uncovering the truth, and a homage to American efforts to end the Soviet's power in Hungary.
Next, you’ll walk into the magnificent Kossuth Lajos square to see the impressively vast, Neo-Gothic parliament building home of the national assembly. Stop for some spectacular photos and learn all about the emergence of contemporary Hungarian politics from 1989 onwards.
Just around the corner and not far from the river you’ll enter Liberty Square. A beautiful, leafy green square, dotted with statues, but with a bloody and turbulent history. It is symbolic of the history and politics of the past 250 years in Hungary, and Budapest.
Formerly a site of army barracks, in which Hungarian political prisoners were tortured and executed by the Austrian armies in the fight for independence in the 1800s, the barracks were demolished and the square replaced them in 1897. Throughout the 20th century, Liberty Square was the site of protests, revolutions, and war. Today it is a living monument to the turbulent past: with statues to commemorate the Nazi Occupation, and the Soviet Liberation, and is now a symbol of freedom with a seemingly incongruous bronze statue of a very jolly-looking Ronald Reagan. The people of Hungary erected it to honor Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War, which led to the end of Soviet rule in Hungary. Since 1989, the country has truly emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and become a parliamentary republic, joined NATO in 1999, and integrated with the EU in 2004.
Lastly, you will visit the House of Terror is a museum with your private guide. House of Terror is a memorial to the horrors of the past, to those detained, tortured, and killed inside the building and contains exhibits from the fascist and communist regimes of 20th-century Hungary.