- 13 Mar 2014 11:02 AM
Last Friday, along with several friends from the press corps and the international community, we had a chance at a sneak preview of the new square thanks to Tamas Wachsler, who leads the restoration project. From what we saw, it’s going to be beautiful.
The Main Square of the Nation, Budapest’s Kossuth tér and the Parliament building, count among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. For Hungary, the square serves as a national memorial, the center of Hungarian statehood and constitutionality, and the main stage for the country’s civic and political life.
Its renovation, called the Imre Steindl Program after the architect of the Parliament building, has been a massive undertaking. It comprises the complete reconstruction of an eight-hectare area to include a public square and park that preserves cultural heritage while serving modern, multi-functional purposes.
Such a large renovation of the space, with costs estimated at over 27 billion forints (93 million euro), has not happened since the Parliament building went up in 1896.
Here are a few features of the new Kossuth Square:
The Parliament attracts almost half a million tourists each year, but until the renovation, there was no appropriate place to receive them. The square will now have a visitor information centre and a museum located underground, beneath the square.
The renovation has also created an underground car park for up to 540 vehicles.
The parking facility will help alleviate traffic as vehicles will be prohibited from Kossuth Square. Only trams, bicycles and pedestrians will be able to pass in front of the Parliament. The promenade on the bank of the Danube behind the Parliament will also reopen.
The space has become greener. Visitors will be able to sit and stroll in a more spacious, aesthetic park.
The complete reconstruction and re-orientation of the space will connect Kossuth Square more naturally and organically, via Vértanúk Square, to Szabadság Square, creating Europe’s largest open city square. With this ensemble, together with the re-opening of the promenade on the banks of the Danube, Kossuth Square will become once again a more integral part of downtown Budapest and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
And yes, the Attila Jozsef statue has been returned to the space, now in a much better location closer to the Danube.
By Ferenc Kumin
A Blog About Hungary
Republished with permission.