Some of the most popular attractions in Budapest are its traditional bath houses. Budapest is conveniently located in an area rich with thermal hot springs; the water from which many believe has healing properties. Széchenyi thermal bath, located in Budapest City Park, is the largest and most famous of these bath houses. Extremely popular with tourists and locals alike, we decided to try to get there as close to its opening time of 6am as possible. Relaxing in the large, hot outdoor bath as the sun rose over the beautiful Baroque Revival building was one of our favorite experiences in Budapest.
Having had great luck with some of the free walking tours in other cities, we decided to take Generation Tours' Communist history tour in Budapest as well despite the fact that it would cover much of the ground that we had already seen in the past few days. Although the tour was focused on the communist history of the city in particular, our guide provided us with plenty of context through the first World War and earlier. Once again, we learned so much through the tour beyond what we were able to gleam from research ourselves. For example, the under-the-surface history of the statue pictured here is extremely controversial. It was erected practically overnight in 2014 and depicts an eagle (Germany) plucking away the innocence of the angel Gabriel (Hungary). It represents the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1944 and the resulting death of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews and members of other maligned populations. However, it's seen by many in the community as an attempt to rewrite/falsify history, because what the statue doesn’t mention is that Hungarian state administration was in actuality a faithful ally of Hitler and the Nazi regime at that time. They were welcomed into the country with bouquets rather than bullets and the state enthusiastically and effectively took part in executing the mass deportation of thousands of its own civilians. Basically, Hungary is hardly the victim that the statue portrays, and many Hungarians are unhappy about this less than accurate representation which suggests that the state bears no responsibility for the genocides following the occupation. A protest to the monument stands just in front of it, pictured here you can see some hanging personal documents of those afflicted by that time's tragedies, strung up next to the Hungarian national flag with it's red, white and green stripes aptly symbolizing blood, honesty, and hope.