Climbing the Gellért Hill is worth the effort and time, not just because of the glorious view of Budapest, but also because of the beautiful Liberty Statue gracing its top resembling a woman. But did you know that the Liberty Statue has been to space? Funzine debunks some of the most exciting secrets of this artistic creation.
Original idea: a male figure?
Myth: Word claims that the Liberty Statue was supposed to be honouring István Horthy (Hungarian Regent Admiral during WWII and fighter pilot) the son of Miklós Horthy (was the Regent of Hungary around the two great wars). István died from his wounds suffered when his plane crashed in 1942. Although his statue was finished by 1944, it was never erected due to the German occupation and bombing of Budapest.
Truth: there were no talks about a Liberty Statue illustrating István Horthy.
The idea of erecting a statue atop the Gellért Hill came in 1945 to commemorate the Soviet soldiers fallen in WWII and was modelled after Erzsébet Thuránszky. The 54 metres tall statue was finished in April 1947 and was supposed to be erected at the Horváth garden behind the Buda Castle, but the Soviets were not keen on the location, as it would not have gotten much attention there.
Sacrifices made for the sake of art
The Liberty Statue was made by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, who actually had something to do with the Horthy family, as he was commissioned for three Horthy statues.
Strobl arrived in Budapest from Sopron for this purpose, and he met the model by accident on the corners of Dózsa György street and Thököly street.
Since he asked her to be his model right on the spot, Erzsébet thought him to be a satyr.
The young woman finally said yes when the artist revealed who he was. Erzsébet was not offered payment for modelling, and she did not even ask for any money. The woman worked as an x-ray assistant at a sanatorium in Sopron.
Some of the sacrifices that Erzsébet had to make included cutting her hair short and holding a palm branch above her head for hours, while cold air was blown at her with the help of a ventilator as to create the natural, windy flow of the statue.
From Liberation Statue to Liberty Statue
The statue was originally referred to as the Liberation Statue, but when the communist regime ended in Hungary, and the statue was renovated,
the inscriptions and plaques written in Cyrillic letters resembling Soviet ideologies were removed.
Thanks to the change in the political system and the removal of Soviet items, the name of the statue was changed from Liberation to Liberty.
A space trip
Even though only a small version of the Liberty Statue was taken to space by the first Hungarian astronaut, Bertalan Farkas in 1980, Hungarians like to associate the miniature with the original, thereby claiming that the Liberty Statue has been to space. After all, it does sound nice that the Moon is a great admirer too of Budapest’s iconic statue, right?
featured image: rHerczeg – WikiCommons