The Statue of Liberty is one of Budapest’s symbols; we all know it very well. writes that it is one of those sights that most tourists visit, since the lady standing on the Gellért Mountain with the palm-branch in her hands inevitably attracts your glance.

But have you ever wondered the identity of the proud lady after whom Budapest’s iconic statue was modelled? Get to know Erzsébet Thuránszkyné Gaál, who was simply referred to as ‘the statue’ until her death.

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The Statue of Liberty was originally constructed at Soviet order in honour of the soldiers who were killed in war. Master sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl chose an unknown girl, who just moved to Pest from the countryside at the time, as the model for the statue. He met Erzsébet Thuránszkyné Gaál (her posterior name) accidentally during one of his walks.

szabadság szobor modellTheir encounter was inevitable. The girl was waiting for the tram on Thököly Road when the sculptor saw her. He later said that “I’ve never felt such a pure blazing in anyone before as I’ve felt in this countryside girl”.

The girl was quite afraid at first, because she thought that the man staring at her was a satyr. But she instantly felt reassured when he gave her a business card. “Uncle Zsiga assailed me on the corner of Dózsa György Road and Thököly Road. He told me that he recognised his marble statue from 20 metres and then introduced himself. He also told me that he had to form the lady, for whose better life heroes fought” wrote Erzsébet in her memorial.

According to, Erzsébet’s girlfriend convinced her to accept the offer. But posing was not an easy task at all. First, the girl had to cut her hair off, since it was too long for the plans. Then. she had to stand in the same posture for weeks. She held the palm-branch in the wind of a fan for 20 minutes on each occasion since, according to the plans, “the statue’s hair and dress were blown by the Danube wind”.

And Erzsébet wasn’t paid for all this. She modelled for free, as social work, driven by the ‘piety of a female compatriot’. However, she was treated unworthily after her job was over. She didn’t even get invited for the inauguration of the statue.

Nevertheless, Erzsébet Thuránszkyné Gaál became a symbol, as her figure towers on the peak of the Gellért Mountain. It’s no surprise that she was simply referred to as ‘the statue’ until her death.

Photos: Köztérkép,

Copy editor: bm


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