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Freedom Square (Szabadság Tér)

Freedom Square (Szabadság Tér) (32)

Freedom Square is one of the biggest squares in Budapest and is found between the Parliament building and Saint Stephan’s Basilica. What you see here today was designed by Antal Paloczy in 1902, but before that it was the site of an enormous prison. It was actually Emperor Joseph II who ordered the building of the jail and many Hungarian patriots were held there, thus making it a symbol of Hapsburg oppression. So, to leave the past behind, it was renamed ´Freedom Square`.

To the east of the square is an art nouveau style building looking very much like a fort, this is the United States Embassy. It was here that Cardinal József Mindszenty took refuge after the 1956 uprising, and stayed until going to Vienna in 1971.

You will see in front of the embassy a statue of the North-American general Harry Hill Bandhotz, a military official who was one of the members of the Allied forces responsible for monitoring peace in 1919. He also saved from destruction the exhibits of the National Museum by sealing its doors with the insignia of the American army. This persuaded the Romanian army not to loot the museum.

The square is also home to other interesting buildings, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ethnographic Museum, the Hungarian TV Centre and the majestic Post Office Savings Bank. 

Behind the former prison building is ´Bathóry Square`, where there is a small bronze oil lamp dedicated to Count Lajos Batthyány. Batthyány was the National Hungarian government’s first president during the 1848 revolution and was executed in front of the jail building on the 6th of October of the same year.  

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