Xploring Budapest: Heroes' Square

  • 19 Mar 2024 1:49 PM
Xploring Budapest: Heroes' Square
Heroes' Square is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic Millennium Monument with statues featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes, often erroneously referred as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

The square lies at the outbound end of Andrássy Avenue next to City Park (Városliget). It hosts the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art (Műcsarnok). 

The square has played an important part in contemporary Hungarian history and has been a host to many political events, such as the reburial of Imre Nagy in 1989. Most sculptures were made by sculptor György Zala from Lendava, with one made by György Vastagh.

In Budapest there are three more squares named Hősök tere, 'Heroes' Square', in the districts or neighbourhoods of Soroksár, Békásmegyer and Rákosliget.

History and outlook

The Millennium Underground is the first underground (Metro) system in continental Europe. The end of the tunnel behind Heroes' Square, with the left colonnade seen from behind.

Hősök tere is surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Palace of Art (or more accurately Hall of Art) on the right. 

On the other side it faces Andrássy Avenue which has two buildings looking at the square – one is residential and the other one is the embassy of Serbia (former Yugoslavian embassy where Imre Nagy secured sanctuary in 1956).

The central feature of Heroes' Square, as well as a landmark of Budapest, is the Millennium Memorial (Hungarian: Millenáriumi Emlékmű, also translated Millennium Monument or Millennial Monument). 

Construction began in 1896 to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the foundation of the Hungarian state in 896, and was part of a much larger construction project which also included the expansion and refurbishing of Andrássy Avenue and the construction of the first metro line in Budapest (Hungarian: Földalatti). 

Construction was mostly completed in 1900, which was when the square received its name. The four allegoric sculptures were added in 1906, the monument as a whole basically looked like it does today (except for the kings' statues), complete with the surrounding museums on either side, and it was inaugurated still in the same year, 1906.

When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty.

From left to right these were Ferdinand I (relief: Defense of the Castle at Eger); Leopold I (relief: Eugene of Savoy defeats the Turks at Zenta), Charles III, Maria Theresa (relief: The Hungarian Diet votes support for Maria Therese with their vow "vitam et sanguinem" at Pressburg on 11 September 1741) and Franz Joseph (relief: Franz Joseph crowned by Gyula Andrássy).

The monument was damaged in World War II and when it was rebuilt the Habsburgs were replaced by the current figures.


Photo: courtesy of Northfoto.com

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