Cultural post #8: The Hungarian National Museum and some literature

For this last cultural proof I finally got around to seeing the Hungarian National Museum. It was a great time to see the museum because it really tied together a lot of the history lessons I have picked up while in the city. I was able to finally put a timeline together for the old kings, Turkish invasion, and different ruling families in the region.

The museum literally begins with neanderthals in the Carpathian basin, which would later evolve into Hungary! Most European ancestry can be traced back to here, in the fertile valley between two rivers. Since then, though, the land has changed hands tens if not hundred of times. Finally, the nomadic Hungarian tribes conquered the region, and with the Danube as their base, they pillaged Europe, all the way to Denmark!

Modern Day Budapest: The tribes are represented in the seven pillars of fisherman's bastion.


The first King of Hungary was King Saint Steven the first, or "Istvan" in Hungarian. In the museum I finally put it together that this king was the same person as the patron saint of the famous Basilica in Budapest. His legacy is everywhere in the City.

Modern Day Budapest: There is a bus stop called Kiraly Szent, which means king saint. There is also a Kiraly street, and the preserved right hand of the Steven I can be seen in St. Istvan's Basilica.

St Steven's on Palm Sunday. 
Next up in the history lesson was the art collection of King Matthias, and the Turkish Invasion. The Turkish influence is still very obvious in the city. Turkish kebabs are on every corner, and the folk art is heavily influence by Turkish design. There is even a region in Hungary that is famous for its "torockoi" or Turkish art.  Even the famous King Matthias cathedral was converted to a mosque during this time period.

Modern day Budapest: King Matthias Church and the Turkish/Hungarian embroidery we discussed in my culture class.
King Matthias Church
The blue design on the bottom has a heavy Turkish influence. 
There was a revolution against the Hapsburg dynasty, lead by Francis II Rackozi, which is the namesake of a bridge, square and street in the city. It really makes you think about every name of the streets here! 

Modern day Budapest: I take the Rackozi metro station to school in the mornings, and I can see the Rackoszi bridge from the tram!


This is Rackozi Square.

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Fast forward to some more recent history. In the museum I was struck by the massive right hand of Stalin, the biggest remaining piece of a statue that was ruined in the 1956 revolution. Also, I've spoken about the Hungarian flag before. They cut out the soviet seal. In this museum you can also see the original seal. 






Walking through a coherent timeline really helped me organize my education of Hungarian history. At the end of the tour I asked one of the employees what her favorite part of the Museum was. She told me that it was the building itself, and the atmosphere of people who care deeply about the past. Even as parts of this city become more modernized and globalized, it is touching to see someone care deeply about their cultural past.


A little about literature: 

In this last blog post I wanted to touch briefly on reading some Hungarian literature. I read novel Kornel Esti in the beginning of the semester. I later spoke with my Hungarian culture professor briefly about the book.

The book itself has a very negative tone. It is critical of the people and culture in Budapest and around Europe. However, the main character is separated into two doppelgangers, one who travels and the other who has to pay for his mistakes. From speaking with Professor Palinkas, I feel as though many Hungarians live with this kind of dual-attitude. They are "laughing as they are crying" as she says. There is a large community of Hungarians with "dark humor", especially now on facebook. As the prime minister began a large propaganda campaign, they responded with internet memes and jokes. Even as they are dealing with some economic hardship and an uncertain future, they smile and make the best out of it. Using humor to address larger problems. 

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