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Memento Park

on September 16, 2014

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What do you do when you’ve shaken off years of Communist rule and are left with a whole lot of monumental statues? Well, some enterprising Hungarians found a solution. Take the statues, move them all to one space on the outskirts of Budapest and form a sort of Communist mini theme park around them.

It takes around 30 minutes on the bus to get to Memento Park – a not particularly interesting journey, it has to be said. But when you get off the bus at the stone masons yard, and look across the highway, you can see the larger statues, and start to get the kitschy feel of the place.

The entrance, featuring large statues of Lenin on one side, and Marx and Engels on the other, leads to the theme park proper, while across the road there us a sort of yard with a barrack-style building on either side – one of which has a colourful display of posters on the outside and a more serious photographic exhibition on the inside. Between the two is what’s referred to as Stalin’s grandstand, which has a big pair of Big Joe’s boots on the top. There’s a replica of the boots inside the barrack building and by standing close to them I can confirm that they’re around 6 feet tall – I’m five foot nine (sorry, but I’ve never learned to convert this to a metric measurement).

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I passed through the monumental sized entrance and paid my admission fee. (If you’re going to go, bypass the expensive organised tour from central Budapest which costs around 4,000 forints and get the local bus and pay the normal admission which costs 1,500 forints. If you buy a Budapest card during your stay like I did, travel to the park is free and you get a 20% reduction on the admission price. You can take photos without having to buy an additional photography pass, which is an irritating feature of many attractions in central Europe. And so, on to the statues, which feature a range of themes, and people, from the Communist era.

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This mural was appropriately epic
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Some of the statues, and their position in relation to each other, looked quite kitsch. From certain angles, for example, this guy looked like a goalkeeper
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These two, being close together, looked like they were doing some sort of boy band dance routineIMG_3503

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There was something Pythonesque about this lot, for anyone who’s seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail anyway
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And this one was just plain strange
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But you always know when you’re in a safe pair of hands
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This statue was my favourite – apart from being the biggest one in the park, it had a real feeling of movement to it, and the face was so expressive and determined
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The poster display was entertaining
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And there were some entertaining items in the gift shop
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Memento Park is a fairly small attraction – it didn’t take more than an hour to wander around and take lots of photos before walking back to the bus stop for the bus back to town. However it was a lot of fun – for someone who has no bad memories or family experiences of life under Communism. It is pretty kitsch, and there’s something ironic about people using these monumental sculptures and statues as a money making enterprise. So if you have a couple of hours to spare, and don’t mind spending one of them on an unexciting bus ride, Memento Park is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy!

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