A Statue’s Life in Budapest
…or why the Bronze Statues are the Unsung Beauties of Budapest
A surge took place in Budapest at the fall of the Soviet Communist era to remove all statues and sculptures relevant to the occupation, and to replace them with Hungarian-inspired art works. Towering over the Danube remains the one statue introduced by the Soviets that still remains within the centre of town, Liberty Statue.
To replace the communist arts came the dominating presence of St Géllert, a martyr to the Christian cause whose death is suspected to be the result of being thrown down the very hill that he now stands upon.
We also have the impressive Hősök (Heroes) Square which was completed in 1990. The original Magyar people of Hungary descend from the seven original tribe chiefs, who arrived to the area in the first century, and Heroes Square is dedicated to them as well as other important national leaders.
With such grand sculptures and monuments at every turn, it is understandable for tourists to the area to miss the shy and often anonymous bronze statues that belong to Budapest just as much as any local, expat, saint or martyr…
The Fat Policeman
The Fat Policeman is a crowd favourite, with a round belly that just asks for a cuddle. He represents a Hungarian love for hearty, heavy dishes, such as gulyás (goulash) or lángos (a particularly unhealthy but addictive deep fried flat bread)!
Legend also claims that his round belly is a source of good luck, as is evident in the smooth bronze that coats it due to endless rubbing by passers-by.
The Little Princess
The Little Princess sits perched along the Danube. She is not only a special character in the hearts of Hungarians but also in the hearts of the British Royal Family, who loved her so much they had a replica created for their grounds at Buckingham Palace.
The first statue to be introduced to the city after the removal of the dominating and masculine communist statues, she was inspired by the artist’s daughter who had played in his garden at a young age with a crown fashioned from newspaper.
In sharp contrast to the carefree and light-hearted nature of the Little Princess is the statue of Attila József, although the same artist, László Marton, created both. The Hungarian poet sits facing the Danube not far from the entrance to grand architecture of the Hungarian Parliament.
Born a poor man who grew to prominence through his radical proletarian poetry marking the plight of the everyday workingman in Budapest, his statue reflects what he believed to be his plight; he carries hunched shoulders supporting a stern face, and he is dressed in the clothes of the working lower class.
A moment’s contemplation on his furrowed brows inspires empathy in the viewer, and sorrow for those who know of his supposed suicide on the railway tracks by his brother’s home.
These are my favourite of the smaller hidden statues in Budapest. Have you found yours yet?
Lots of love,