A Little Hungarian History: Szabadság Tér

One of the things I like most about living in Budapest is that every inch of it is seeping with history. Freedom Square, also known as Liberty Square, is no exception. Called Szabadság tér in Hungarian, the square sits on what were once huge barracks. Built by the Austrians in 1786, they became a symbol of repression. At the end of the 19th century, the barracks were destroyed, making way for the current square. On the west side stands the former Stock Exchange Building (Tőzsdepalota). In 1948, the communists closed it down, and the building became the headquarters for the Hungarian Television. Opposite that stands the Hungarian National Bank Building (Magyar Nemzetí Bank). In the center of the square stands an obelisk with a communist hammer and sickle. One of the only remaining Soviet monuments in the city, it honors the soldiers of the Red Army who died during WWII’s liberation of Budapest.


9 thoughts on “A Little Hungarian History: Szabadság Tér

  1. The US Embassy is also there with fortifications exceeding any government or military installation in Hungary (OK, some of the prisons perhaps)…

  2. Did you check out the (larger than life) statue of Ronald Reagan, just behind this Russian obelisk? With the signage “A country boy against the evil empire” both in English and Hungarian…. The juxtaposition of these two is priceless. And if you walk towards Kossuth square from here, you get to the statue of Nagy Imre, who was executed after the 1956 uprising (against the Russians). Yes our history is embedded in every cobblestone of our cities…

  3. You know the story of the statue of the US General? You took a picture from the statue. He is major general Harry Hill Bandholtz! Between August 1919 and February 9, 1920, he was the US representative to the Inter-Allied Supreme Command’s Military Mission in Hungary. The Military Mission was charged with disarming the Hungarian military and supervising the withdrawal of the Serbian and Romanian armies who were occupying the territory of Hungary. According to his own accounts, he is said to have prevented the arresting of Hungarian PM István Friedrich by the Romanians. He is also remembered for preventing Romanian soldiers from looting the Hungarian National Museum on 5 October 1919. That’s the reason why the Hungarians built a statue for him!

    • You can look up an interesting historical document on Bandholtz on the Internet; it was a significant personal account on his problems with retaining the treasures of Hungary and keeping the Romanian government from pillaging important artifacts.

  4. One of my favourites in my hometown:)
    Let me actually recommend you an old building in the square: Szabadság tér 14. It is nicely renovated, and at first look, you don’t see anything extraordinary. But have a look at the new roof: it is designed to hide a whole new floor whilst allowing enough light behind. Check out the pics on http://epiteszforum.hu/egy-palota-otletes-tetoter-beepitese-budapest-szabadsag-ter-14

    Amazing architectural solution, I think.

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