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History & heritage tours

Communist Budapest: The “Happiest Barrack” in the Soviet Bloc

Availability: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Duration: 3 hours
Printed ticket only
Do this because
  • Receive a tour from an accomplished historian
  • Learn about Budapest's “goulash communism”
  • Explore Bem József Square, site of a major uprising
  • Visit Kossuth square and its revolution monuments
  • See the former People’s Stadium (now Puskas Soccer Stadium)
  • Take a quick ride in one of “Stalin’s trolley buses”
  • Walk through the dull totalitarian housing estates from the 1970s
What to expect

On this tour you can explore the two faces of Hungarian communism: Stalinism and Kadarism. When Soviet dictator Jozef Stalin helped the communist party take power in Hungary in 1948, the people were not immediately pleased. A short time later in 1956 there was an uprising, which was brutally stopped. However, the new leader at the time, János Kádár, created alterations to the law which allowed for a softer dictatorship. Certain luxuries were allowed as long as important matters were not disputed. And so began decades of “goulash communism” and Hungary's reputation as “the happiest barrack in the Soviet Bloc”. Your tour will explore important moments in this bizarre period of development and tyranny.

Your tour will start in Bem József Square, site of the 1956 uprising. The square contains a coffee house which still has its interior from 1960. Next, you'll take a subway to Kossuth square in front of Parliament to see the various monuments dedicated to the conflicts of the 1956 revolution. Afterwards, you'll walk over to Freedom Square, where four structures symbolize the Cold War: the US embassy, a monument to the Soviet army, the statue of President Ronald Reagan, and the entrance to a secret atomic bomb shelter. From there you'll take the subway again to the housing estates on the borders of the city. These 1960 structures are dull and boring by today's standards, but the modern conveniences were unknown at the time of their installation and families reveled in their good fortune if they got to live there. Nearby you'll also get to see a communist-era shopping center.

Your tour will move on to the former People’s Stadium (now Puskas Soccer Stadium). Here it's still possible to see the typical socialist statues of strong workers, soldiers, and scholars, all indicating a brighter future. Next you'll take a quick ride on one of “Stalin’s trolley buses” (it'll make sense, don't worry) to Dozsa György Street, often used for May Day parades in the past. With the help of iPads and old photos, you'll get to see the difference between the present arrangement of the city and its past communist style. It's an amazing way to understand the chances that have occurred in this city since the fall of communism.

Finally, your tour will stop at the House of Terror. This museum is nestled in the former headquarters of the fascist and Stalinist secret services. The building stands as a symbol of wrongdoings of communism, with a slab of the Berlin Wall on display outside.

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What's included
  • 3-hour guided walk
  • Historian as tour guide
What's not included
  • Tram and metro tickets
Where
Budapest, Frankel Leó út 5, 1027 Hungary
Meeting point:

Bambi Eszpresszó, Budapest, Frankel Leó út 2/4, 1027 Hungary

What to remember

Your guide will help you to purchase Budapest tram and metro tickets if you do not already have a visitor pass.

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When
  • Thursday and Friday at 2.00pm
  • Tuesday and Saturday at 10.00am
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Provider
Insight Cities
Booking fee
Good news! No extra fees are applied to this booking.

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