The Statue of Liberty on Gellert Hill, Budapest is a communist statue erected in 1947 to commemorate the liberation of Budapest and Hungary from the Nazi rule. It is also a communist monument to celebrate Hungary’s being part of the Soviet rule. Nevertheless, Hungarians grew to love the statue enough not to remove it in 1989 when Hungary became a democratic country after decades of Soviet communist oppression, cheap identical clothes, waiting lists for blocks of houses, Trabants etc.
Therefore, there were two inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty. The original one from 1947 said “To the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes [erected by] the grateful Hungarian people [in] 1945”, while the later modified inscription, added in 1989 says “To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary” No Soviets, yes Freedom.
The Statue of Liberty on the Gellert Hill was made by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl. The statue / monument is a 14 metre tall statue made of bronze, and its pedestal is 26 metre.
The female figure of liberty, a more earthly and masculine working woman – Socialist art did not like slender ladies – is holding a palm leaf in her hands.
Palm Leaf or Propeller Blade?
There is a popular Hungarian urban legend, which states that the Statue of Liberty on Gellert Hill was finished years before WW2, and was meant to be a monument of the son of Miklos Horthy, Hungarian governor between the two world wars (he lost his young adult son, Istvan Horthy, in a plane accident): the sculptor was to add an airplane propeller blade in the woman’s hand – changing his mind in 1945. Quite a steep legend, right? But you can still picture the female Liberty holding a propeller blade (like kings holding chair legs in England).
It is true that Kisfaludi made a monument for Horthy (where the genius of flight is throwing a broken wreath to Istvan Horthy) but the Statue of Liberty is not the same statue according to art historians. Nevertheless, the legend was so popular that even the Russian Communist Marshall Voroshilov who asked the sculptor to make the statue had to constantly dissipate the legend believed to be true by many Hungarians. At least it gave the suppressed Hungarians some satisfaction to knowingly wink at each other, behind the Russians’ back, and self-ironically get amused in the dark ages of communism. (based on the report of urbanlegends.hu).
Attractions by the Statue of Liberty, Gellert Hill, Budapest
Gellert Hill has several attractions, one of them is the Statue of Liberty, close to the hill top fortress, the Citadel, where you can get beautiful panoramic views of Budapest, including the Buda Castle on the Buda Castle Hill, the Chain Bridge, the Gresham Palace, the Hungarian Parliament, the St Stephen Basilica and the picturesque buildings along the river Danube and its cruise ships. Further attractions include the Cave Church at the foot of the Gellert Hill, literally built into the karst caves of the Gellert Hill, the famous Art Nouveau Gellert Spa and Hotel, and the Liberty Bridge by the Gellert Hill.