If you are interested in Hungarian history – and European for that matter – House of Terror and the Great Synagogue are a must place to visit in Budapest. They are of course two different types, so let’s not mix and take one at the time:

The House of Terror
The Museum is dedicated to the victims, from periods of time when Hungary was controlled by Nazi and Communist regimes. The building itself was headquarters to the Nazi Arrow Cross Party in 1944 and subsequently from 1945 – 1956 was headquarters to the notorious communist terror organisations; ÁVO and ÁZH (click pics to bigify & enjoy).

Budapest in Hungary - Terror House Museum #1

It’s located on the beautiful Andrássy Boulevard but hidden deep in the basement lie torture and prison cells in which the Nazi’s and Communists carried out many atrocities.

It was completed in February 2002 after ‘The Public Foundation for the Research of Central and Eastern European History and Society’ purchased the building with the aim of establishing a museum in order to present these two bloody periods of Hungarian history:

Budapest in Hungary - Terror House Museum #3

This building with three floors and a cellar takes you on a journey through the many traumas of totalitarian rule: fascism, Soviet occupation, the gulag, and persecution of the peasantry and the churches:
Budapest in Hungary - Terror House Museum #4 Budapest in Hungary - Terror House Museum #6

Going through the rooms with posters, artefacts, pictures, videos and stands is frightening and emotional. The horror sits in the walls and gives a thoughtful atmosphere of what the Hungarian people have lived through and an important reminder of how important it is not to forget that this has happened. Each and every one of us – in our own way – is responsible for not allowing it to happen again – to anybody!

Dohány Street or the Great Synagogue:
Budapest Central Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. It’s completed in 1859 by the Austrian architect Ludwig Förster. Its Byzantine-Moorish style will fascinate you and remind you of monuments in the Middle-East. Two onion-shaped domes sit on the twin towers at 43 meter height. The towers symbolize the two columns of Solomon’s Temple:
Budapest in Hungary - The Synagogue #1

The building was partly destroyed by bombing campaigns during World War II, but has been the subject of much renovation to restore its two shining Moorish domes to their former brilliance. The Jewish Museum next door recounts the horrors of the Holocaust and displays exhibits dating as far back as the middle Ages.

The spacious interior has equally rich decorations. A single-span cast iron supports the 12 meter wide nave. The seats on the ground-floor are for men, while the upper gallery has seats for women. Surprisingly the synagogue has an organ, though this instrument is used in Christian churches. The temple’s acoustic make it a popular venue for concerts:
Budapest in Hungary - The Synagogue #6
Behind the main building stands the Heroes’ Temple that was built in 1929-31 to commemorate the Jews who died in the First World War:
Budapest in Hungary - The Synagogue #2

The metal “Tree of Life” memorial (to the left in the picture above), created by Imre Varga in the image of a willow-tree, has the name of a different martyr engraved on each of its leaves:
Budapest in Hungary - The Synagogue #4

Both the Terror museum and the Synagogue made strong impressions on us and gave us a deeper understanding of how the Second World War affected this part of the world. The synagogue however is also a symbol of spirituality and hope and shows how its people live on, thrive, rebuild and honour the past.

This is my second post about our adventures in the beautiful city of Budapest and like I said in my first post: there will be more – about Budapest’s Champs Elysees, Margit recreational island and even to some restaurants – so stay tuned!

A collection of all my Budapest posts from our trip in June 2009:
#0: All pics from Budapest at my Flickr account.
#1: Budapest the capital of Hungary in the Heart of Europe
#2: This post
#3: Andrassy Avenue with Heroes Square, City Park and Millennium Underground
#4: Hungarian paradise on Margaret Island and Park
#5: New York Café and Hungarian cuisine as food traditions in Budapest

25 Comments

  1. Unfortunately the house of terror is still alive and well in quite a few places around the world.

    I’m glad the two of you had a great time.

    Big hug to you and Diane. :)

  2. Gorgeous photos, thank you. Now I REALLY want to go to Budapest.

  3. I love hearing about historical places.

  4. interesting history.. admirable structures and architecture. :)

  5. The House of Terror and Budapest sound interesting for me because I want to learn more on the history of World Wars.

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  7. Lovely photos – very interesting Renny!

  8. The Terror Museum is so stark and visually imposing. Intriguing but also intimidating – I’m sure the designers were going for such an effect.

    What did the rest of the street look like, did this building really stand out as much as it seems from the photo?

    RennyBA
    No, this building did not stand out – only the banner on the roof.

  9. “Visit and Enjoy” may be a strong expression for the exhibition, but it was a highly relevant post. A bit of history is never amiss.

    PS Thank you for the comment – the bridge is “of course Askøybroen” – look at my header ;-)

  10. Stunning pics! The buildings revoke painful memories, yet preserve the tough journey the Jews have strived to walk on till this day…

  11. These two posts are amazing!!! what a wonderful historical and culturally rich area, how fun it must be to explore it! Thank you for taking us on your journey as well!

  12. Such magnificent architecture all over the city – amazing!!! The house of terror terrifies me I must say.

  13. Fabulous pictures!!! There is so much history good and bad in Budapest!

  14. Fantastic, so much history!!!! And to restore that building!!! *whistles*

    The statue is impressive too, I love that one.

  15. I repeat this again what an awesome blog.

    From you I’m learning more about Hungary thank you. The pictures and the rich history. This is excellent.

    With your permission I shall link this blog to my website above.

  16. The first building looks so dark and scary… So many pages or dark European history were written here, as you mentioned. The best we can do is to not forget…

    The Synagogue is just beautiful. I don’t think I have ever been to one come to think of it.

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  18. Hi Renny,

    “Each and every one of us – in our own way – is responsible for not allowing it to happen again – to anybody!” – you bet, Renny! And I do my part so that we do not forget, and let not it happen again…ever again.

    The house of horror is really horrible: I could capture the tense environment from here (the terrible things that were done there, just make me sick).

    Awww, the synagogue is so beautiful!!

    This post, Renny, encourages me to proceed and denounce fascism, racism, prejudice, persecution and any type of disrespect and violation of the human rights!

    Fantastic!

    Cheers

  19. such a sad part of human history but important that we remember so that hopefully we may never repeat it.

  20. Many thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures with commentary on the history of the largest, and one of the most beautiful, synagogues of Europe. The Hungarian people and the Jewish people of Hungary have suffered much during the cold war era and World War II. In a world today of increasing antisemitism, we need to do all we can to prevent another Holocaust, and promote peace and goodwill among all peoples. Thanks again, and bless you Renny for doing your part!

  21. Thanks for the informative post. A question: does the House of Terror have English language informational panels?

    RennyBA
    No, but you can rent headsets with more than 20 language to guide you around.

  22. Those are very interesting places. Visiting the House of Terror must have been an unforgettable experience. The Budapest Central Synagogue has a distinct exterior. The interior is impressive.

  23. Pingback:New York Café and Hungarian cuisine as food traditions in Budapest

  24. Pingback:Hungarian paradise on Margaret Island and Park in Budapest

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