Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Heroes’ Square ( Hősök tere in Hungarian) is one of the top tourist sights in the Hungarian capital.
Built at the end of the 19 th century to celebrate the arrival of the Magyars – the mythical ancestors of the Hungarians – in the Carpathian basin a thousand years earlier, Heroes’ Square is quite simply spectacular, both because of its monumental dimensions and its neoclassical architecture.
Follow the guide!
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Brief history of Heroes’ Square
The origins of Heroes’ Square
At the end of the 19 th century, Hungary organized great celebrations – “Millennium Festivities” – to commemorate the arrival of the first Magyar tribes in the Carpathian basin.
On this occasion, the Hungarian capital launched vast construction projects all over the city: Városliget park, the Liberty Bridge, the Fisherman’s Bastion … and of course Heroes’ Square. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok – an art gallery -, both located on Heroes’ Square, were also built for the Millenium Festivities.
Heroes’ Square during the Hungarian People’s Republic
Under the communist regime in power in Hungary from 1948 to 1989, Heroes’ Square became a meeting place for forced gatherings.
When the People’s Republic of Hungary was abolished after the fall of the communist bloc in Europe, 250,000 Hungarians gathered on Heroes’ Square to attend the funeral of opposition leader Imre Nagy, over 30 years after he was executed in 1958.
Heroes’ Square today
Today, Heroes’ Square is no longer synonymous with terror and sorrow but rather with weekend strolls and popular events.
Visiting Heroes’ Square
Designed by Austro-Hungarian architect Albert Schickedanz, Heroes’ Square is a vast neoclassical architectural complex lined up with iconic monuments.
The Millennium Monument
Located in the center of Heroes’ Square, the Millennium Monument commemorates a thousand years of Hungarian history.
Its 36 meter high central column is flanked by two semi-circular peristyles / colonnades.
The central column is surmounted by a statue of Archangel Gabriel, who, according to legend, appeared to Stephen Ist – founder of the Kingdom of Hungary – in a dream in which he offered the future king the crown of the kingdom. The foot of the column is adorned with seven statues representing the leaders of the seven Magyar tribes – including Árpád – who led their people in the Carpathian basin. You’ll also find statues of the seven Magyar leaders at the Fisherman’s Bastion, on the banks of the Danube, a short walk from Buda Castle and the Matthias Church.
⏳ Short historical reminders ⏳
• Árpád of Hungary was the founder of the Árpád dynasty, which ruled Hungary from 895 to 1301. Elected prince by the seven Magyar tribes, Árpád led his people away from the Pechenegs (a nomadic people) who threatened them, to the Carpathian basin where he founded his own dynasty.
•Stephen I st is the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary, of which he became the first king in the year 1000 or 1001. He was canonized in 1083 for evangelizing his kingdom. He is therefore considered the patron saint of Hungary.
The colonnades are each surmounted by two allegorical statues:
- Left Colonnade: a man armed with a snake representing War and a couple representing Work and Wealth
- Right Colonnade: a female allegory of Peace and a couple representing Knowledge and Glory
The two peristyles also include seven arches each, in which stand seven statues of historical Hungarian figures:
- Left peristyle: Stephen I of Hungary, Ladislaus I of Hungary, Coloman of Hungary, Andrew II of Hungary, Béla IV of Hungary, Charles I of Hungary and Louis I of Hungary.
- Right peristyle: John Hunyadi, Matthias Corvinus, István Bocskay, Gabriel Bethlen, Imre Thököly, Francis II Rákóczi and Lajos Kossuth.
Originally, these two peristyles only housed statues of Hungarian rulers, 5 of which belonged to the Austro-Hungarian dynasty of the Habsburgs. cc cc They were removed from the monument and replaced by statues of Hungarian independence figures after World War II.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier / Memorial Stone of Heroes
Contrary to what its name would seem to indicate, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is not a burial place (it does not contain any remains) but a memorial built in the 1920s in memory of the Hungarian soldiers who fell in battle during the First World War.
The monument was destroyed in 1951 and replaced by a new memorial in 1956.
Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts
Located on Heroes’ Square, the Museum of Fine Arts of Budapest is unanimously recognized as one of the best museums in the capital.
It is home to the largest collection of art in Hungary, gathering all sorts of works of art, from Egyptian mummies to masterpieces (Raphaël, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Cézanne, Gauguin, Delacroix …)
More info: Museum of Fine Arts of Budapest
Also located on Heroes’ Square, the Műcsarnok (“Hall of Art” in English) is a contemporary art museum.
The museum is worth a visit if you are an art amateur, but it doesn’t rank among the top tourist sights in the Hungarian capital.
😍 The most beautiful museums in Budapest 😍
If you don’t to visit all of Budapest’s museums, Captain Ulysses recommends focusing on the Museum of Fine Arts (international collections), the Hungarian National Gallery (dedicated to the works of famous Hungarian artists) and the Hungarian National Museum (retracing the history of the country).
Getting to Heroes’ Square
Heroes’ Square is located between Andrassy Avenue – Budapest’s most iconic avenue – and Varosliget Park.
The nearest public transports are:
- Metro: Hősök tere station (line M1)
- Bus: Hősök tere stop (lines 20E, 30, 30A and 105)
- Trolley-bus: lines 75 and 79
Hop-on hop-off tourist buses also stop at Heroes’ Square. They’re quite handy to get around the city freely.
👉 More info here.
Tourist sights & attractions near Heroes’ Square
Heroes’ Square is located a few steps from many of the Hungarian capital’s must-see sights and monuments, including:
- Andrassy Avenue: the most iconic avenue in the capital, where you’ll find the Budapest Opera House and the House of Terror.
- Varosliget : the city park, which is home to the Széchenyi thermal baths and Vadjahunyad Castle
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