Budapest Communist Tour Through History

Written By: The Planet D

After WW2 in 1949, Hungary was declared a people’s republic and was ruled by communism. The iron curtain fell in 1989 but when you tour Budapest, you will see that there are reminders of the Communist regime scattered throughout the city today.

The most noteworthy monument is to Imre Nagy.

This statue of a man standing on a bridge looking over to the Parliament Buildings longing for freedom attracts crowds each day on walking tours to learn about the city’s communist past.

He led the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and was executed for Treason two years later. This monument symbolizes the difficult road to freedom.

Budapest Communist Tour

One of the few remaining Soviet Monuments is Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill. This statue was originally erected to honour the soviets who sacrificed themselves to free Hungary from the Nazis occupation.

As we all know, that liberation came with a price and the soviets ended up locking out the Western world.

The statue was damaged in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and in 1989 after the fall of communism, the statue was kept to honour all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for Hungary. An inscription in the statue states: To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary.

communist tour budapest Liberty Statue on Gellert Hil
Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill

You can find another communist monument downtown Budapest at Liberty Square. This Russian monument honours the soldiers of the Red Army who died during the liberation Budapest from the Nazis.

It is ironically located directly across from the US embassy and a statue of Ronald Reagen stands on the other side of it. Reagan played a key roll in putting an end to communism in the Soviet Union.

It is ironically located directly across from the US embassy and a statue of Ronald Reagen stands on the other side of it.
budapest tours about communism ronald raegan
Hanging out with Ronald Reagan

There are many monuments in this area from the Imir Nagy statue to the eerie abandoned MTV building.

It’s not the MTV Building that we know and used to love for their music videos. No, This MTV was the state run television station pumping out daily propaganda.

A luxury hotel chain from Canada has apparently bought up this beautiful building, but has left it standing empty since 2005.

Feel Like a Local

A lot has changed since the days of communism.

Where once it would be unthinkable to even go into a persons house, you can now rent apartments and experience first hand how to live like a local.

Budapest Communist Tour apartment
Our Budapest Apartment Rental

We stayed in an apartment owned by a very cool gal name Roberta who looked like Audrey Hepburn. She rents out her funky apartment to people passing through.

Located in the heart of city, close to the river, we were walking distance to all the major attractions. It’s cool to stay in an apartment, because you have the chance to get to know the locals. We met Roberta at one of the ruin bars in town for a drink.

What are Ruin Bars

Ruin Bars are a popular spot that came out of the fall of communism. These are trendy hipster pubs that are decorated with retro furniture and have a very cool vibe.

budapest pictures kert ruin bar
Ruin bars on the Pest side

Goulash Communism

Budapest is in a major transition right now and an Interesting part of traveling there is that you can see a contrast between the communist era and the modern day society of today.

communist tour budapest

Communism is very much a part of the conversation in Budapest. People that are the same age as Dave and I remember growing up during the regime.

It has been slower to develop than other communist cities due to lack of funding, but this has allowed it to stave off the dreaded gentrification that is affecting so many cities today.

It won’t be long until the West invades though, even now you will find McDonalds and Starbucks. As a matter a fact, Budapest was actually the first city in the Eastern block to open a McDonalds.

They had a more relaxed form of communism than other countries, giving it the nickname Goulash Communism. They enjoyed a certain freedom and amenities that weren’t available to other countries in the Eastern Block.

Trabant Tour through Budapest

communism in Budapest trabant Tours

A great way to gain a better understanding of Communism in Budapest is to join a communist tour

You can take a walking tour in the downtown centre or do as we did an try 3-hour driving Trabant tour through the streets of Budapest.

Known as “the Paper Jaguar” the Trabant was popular during the communist era. Built in East Germany, it was cheap, it was compact, yet large enough to cram a family in with luggage and it was fast.

It’s two stroke engine makes this thing sound like a tank, but it’s fun to drive around in and all the locals will give you a big smile and wave as you pass.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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7 thoughts on “Budapest Communist Tour Through History”

  1. If you interested in Communist Hungary there are other places as well like Cold War Park Budapest it’s an exhibition of Russian war machines from the cold war era. You can drive several tanks and other military vehicles and shoot iconic Russian guns as well. They have a huge collection of tank’s jet’s helicopters etc. and it’s a real Eastern European adventure where everything can happen at all! And then there is the Marxim Pub – 1024 Budapest, Kisrókus u. 23. to have a communist style lunch or dinner or just drink a beer and feel the atmosphere:)

    Have Fun!

  2. I visited the House of Terror when I was there recently and found it fascinating – it's worth also visiting Memento Park on the outskirts of the city, although possibly better in summertime than the bleak midwinter.

  3. Nagy memorial was one of my favorites in Budapest! The communist history is very fascinating to experience while visiting Budapest.

  4. Communist tour on a Trabant sounds like a fun & great way to explore and understand the history of Budapest. Great photos and read!

  5. Budapest is one of my favorite cities! I visited here years ago and loved it. Very underrated city and Hungary is beautiful. I would love to go back and learn more about this city. I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I would like and didn’t really explore too much of the Communist history. Had no idea they had a statue of Reagan there!

  6. Budapest is fascinating! The history you describe seems to be so fresh, so recent in peoples’ minds. I really like the statues in the photos (I think I just like statues in general) and the apartment looks soooo cute!