Today is the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union, a national holiday. The tram stops around the city are decorated with amazing pictures of that two-week period which ended when Soviet tanks and troops returned to Budapest and retook control of the government for 33 more years.
We took advantage of one of the special provisions of the day — the Parliament building is open to all visitors at no charge.
You can just make out one of the signature features of the uprising — the Hungarian flag with a hole cut out of the middle. After consolidating their rule over Hungary following World War II, a revised flag with a Soviet-influenced crest at the center was imposed. During the revolution, people took these flags and cut the crest out of the middle to use as their banner. Off-camera to the right is an eternal flame monument marked “1956.”
There was a bit of a wait to get in, but well worth it.
The main attraction, besides the staggering scope and beauty of the building itself, is the Holy Crown of Hungary, which is displayed in the central domed hall.
You’ll notice the priests and formally-attired folks behind and to the right; they are there to oversee the changing of the guard on the hour. (You can just make out one of the guards through the case, and the sword of the other guard is visible at the lower right.)
As outsiders, the overall experience evokes more awe and respect than pride, but it allows us to reflect on our experiences at places in the U.S. like the Capitol and the Tomb of the Unknowns, and helps us to understand just a bit more about our new home.