Set in the former headquarters of the secret police of both the Nazi regime and the Communists during the Soviet occupation, is Budapest´s ´House of Terror Museum´. Located at 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue the building is hard to miss with the word ´Terror´ written in large letters in a black passepartout at the top of the building.
Hungary allied themselves with Hitler to save their Jewish population, but soon after was overtaken by the Nazi-affiliated Arrow Cross in the dying days of World War II. Arrow Cross members killed Jews in the streets and shot them into the freezing Danube River that runs through Budapest. Hundreds however, where executed in the basement of 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue. When the communists took over Hungary, this building was again used as headquarters of their secret police (the ĂVO) and used to terrorize, detain, torture and execute individuals suspected of being an enemy of the state.
The museum tells the story of the the double-occupation of the Germans and the Soviets over five harrowing decades and the suffering, atrocities and deprivation that affected so many. Whilst makes for a grim way to spend a morning or afternoon is definitely worth the visit on your trip to Budapest.
As soon as you enter the muesum atrium, which rises three floors up, you are faced with a Soviet tank which appears menacing and overbearing in an enclosed space. The the surrounding walls are covered in black and white portraits of each of the victims who died in this building during the 50 years of the two occupations.
Each room has a theme, starting with the period prior to the first occupation when things were normal followed by the two separate occupation periods, detailing the crimes and atrocities that went on, not only atÂ 60 AndrĂĄssy AvenueÂ but across the entire country. The rooms use audio visual displays, excerpts from television broadcasts, radio shows, photos, propaganda posters and interviews from individuals and families who survived. With one in three families effected over the 50 years there are an insurmountable number of stories to be told and this museum does them justice.
Whilst most of the exhibit information is in Hungarian, most of the movies have English subtitles and each room has a information sheet in English that you can take and read as you walk around. The last section of the museum begins as you enter a elevator to the ex-prison basement. The elevator is programmed to descend slowly as video plays showing a guard explaining the execution process. During the 1950s the basement of this building was a witness to the horrendous torture of prisoners. Today the cells have been left as they were at the end of the soviet occupation areÂ chilling reminder of what happened there.
The final rooms could not be more opposite, one shows the festive atmosphere and the excitement surrounding the days in 1991 when the Soviets departed. The final room that you leave through however has a more somber atmosphere. The walls of room are lined with the names and photos of the “victimizers”, local communist members and supporters of the Arrow Cross and ĂVO, many of whom are still living, and who were never brought to justice.The House of Terror Museum is essential for anyone with an interest in the history of not only Hungary´s struggle for freedom but the whole ofÂ Eastern Europe.
For more information http://www.terrorhaza.hu/en/index_2.htmlÂ The museum is located at 60 AndrĂĄssy Avenue, 1062 Budapest. Full price adult admission is 2000 HUF.
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Festivals can also be a way to maintain the spirit of an important cultural tradition and keep it alive. Not everything is the market, industry and noise this summer, there are also options, although a bit more classic and traditional, that grant you the opportunity to enjoy with other people a different culture, or maybe yours, and learn a bit more and even enjoy with the family.
That´s how, the Jewish Summer Festival has been taking place in Budapest since 1998 thanks to the organization of the Cultural Centre of Jewish Tourism which is in the city. The centre of all festivities is no less than the Synagogue on Dohany Street, possibly the biggest and most spectacular synagogue in Europe. The synagogue isn´t just one of the most beautiful places to visit in Budapest but also an ancestral symbol of Jewish culture in the city. Much before they began to organize the festival, concerts already took place in this synagogue. However, it wasn´t until they had the initiative of this festival that the synagogue became a true concert hall. As part of the organization of the festival, one has to highlight that in 2006 they inaugurated the synagogue on Rumbach Sebestyen street to the public, built by the Viennese architect Otto Wagner, and therefore attracting even more visitors and public in general.
At the festival, Jewish culture is represented by different performances, concerts, exhibitions, open air programmes for the younger ones, crafts, book market and other artistic forms. As the centre of all events, the musical genre Klezmer is put forward. Klezmer is a genre that comes from the Jewish-Hebrew tradition from Eastern Europe. This style is played by professional musicians called klezmorim. The genre consists especially in dance and instrumental pieces for weddings and other celebrations. Although the genre has its origins in Eastern Europe, this style in particular has been developed more and was made popular in the United States during the Yiddish Jews immigrations between 1880 and 1924. However, little is known about the true origins of this folkloric music which is so unique and cheerful.
With the years, the festival hasn´t stopped growing and it´s still expanding. This year´s programme has renown international artists. Budapest is, undoubtedly, the best place for this type of festival. Its streets never cease to have an aura of light and charm during the summer. The walks in Budapest always become infinite and the options to have fun never end. This Jewish Summer Festival is just another occasion for which the city is visited by many more tourists, and not just Jewish ones. With every year that goes by, the city keeps becoming more and more cosmopolitan, without losing its traditional and romantic style. Maybe that´s why this festival is so welcome here. For more information and programmes of this event, you can visit the festival´s webpage and there you can also find information on tickets, artists and other activities.
The best thing is to get apartments in Budapest and not miss out on the chance to be part of one of the most interesting festivals this summer. You can also meet beautiful people everywhere. Summer in Budapest is like a dream.
Translated by: aleixgwilliam