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The famous Heroes’ Square: now and then

The famous Heroes’ Square: now and then

The popular tourist attraction of the Hungarian capital city did not always look like today. Funzine.hu invites us all on a tour, discovering the secrets of buildings and locations in Budapest, starting with the Heroes’ Square.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The construction of the square began at the Millennial celebrations in 1896, but was finished only 10 years later, in 1906. Prior to that, the Gloriett fountain, designed by Miklós Ybl, was the main attraction of the location, providing the same spring-water that can be found in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Notably, the fountain was kept and still can be found beneath the square, though, Ybl’s creation was moved to the Széchenyi hill.

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On the account of the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state, several programs and developments were planned by the government in 1896, including the building of the Ferenc József Bridge (now Liberty Bridge), the Grand Boulevard, and the Budapest Zoo. Then, due to Sándor Wekerle PM’s request, Albert Schickedanz designed the Heroes’ Square and György Zala created the statues. Bear in mind here that the stunning Museum of Fine Arts and Műcsarnok were also both designed by Schikedanz.

According to the original plans, the 15 statues of the square were designed to be much bigger, but eventually, because of financial issues, the grand sizes got cut down a bit. If you ever found yourself wondering and not being sure about whom the statues represent, well, search no more. Here’s the list of the statues, first of the left hall, from the left to the right, then of the right hall, again, from the left to the right, and the artists in parentheses.

Why not check the most beautiful squares of Budapest?

Saint Stephen (Károly Senyei), Saint Ladislaus (Ede Telcs), Coloman the Bookish (Richárd Füredi), Andrew II (Károly Senyei), Béla IV (Miklós Köllő), Charles I (György Kiss), and Louis I (György Zala).

John Hunyadi (Ede Margó), King Matthias (György Zala), István Bocskai (Barbabás Holló), Gábor Bethlen (György Vastagh Jr.), Imre Thököly (Jenő Grantner), Ferenc Rákóczi II (Zsigmon Kisfaludi Strobl), and Lajos Kossuth (Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl).

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In the middle of the monument the 36-metre-high statue of Archangel Gabriel can be seen, as, according to a legend, Saint Stephen got crowned and Christianised because in his dream Gabriel asked him to do so. Hence the crown and cross are placed in his hands. Though, for a short period, the statue was taken down, as its pedestal was quite in a bad state. After fixing it it could be restored in its place in 1901.

Also, further magnificent statues make the attraction of Heroes’ Square complete: below Gabriel the seven chieftains of Hungary can be seen, while, opposing each other, the Statue of War on the left side faces and the Statue of Peace on the right side can be seen. On the outer colonnades the Statue of Labour and Wealth and the Statue of Knowledge and Glory stand restlessly. No wonder the square was one of the most significant destinations of the city at the end of the 19th century, especially as the first Underground of the European continent stopped under the square, and the Andrássy street also ended here.

The designers wanted to make Heroes’ Square a significant part of Városliget, wherefore the area in front of it got stoned only in 1937. The new coverage was necessary for the square to be able to host the 34th International Eucharistic Congress a year later, lining up the most important religious leaders. Then, after the Habsburg House was dethroned following World War II, Hungary became a republic. The politicians getting power reformed the country’s political system and Heroes’ Square as well.

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The five statues representing Habsburg rulers (Ferdinand I, Charles III, Maria Theresa, Leopold II, Franz Joseph I) were removed and with the exception of Franz Joseph I’s statue, which was broken to pieces, they all ended up in museums in the countryside. Furthermore, the statue of Archangel Gabriel was also taken down in 1919 and replaced with an obelisk and the 7-metre-tall effigy of Karl Marx. The removed statues were then put back to their places in 1926, albeit Franz Joseph I had to be recreated. Therefore, his former military uniform was changed into royal clothing.

The last major change was carried out in 1945, when the Communist regime decided that the Habsburg statues had to go again and got replaced by historical figures, namely Bocskai, Bethlen, Thököly, Rákóczi II, and Kossuth, who suited the ideology of the Socialist system somewhat more. That is when the current image of the Heroes’ Square was ultimately created, and those are the figures that can be visited nowadays anytime at one of the most popular tourist destinations of Budapest.

Daily News Hungary

Copy editor: bm

Source: funzine.hu

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