Located in Northwest Hungary, Budapest is a culturally rich city with a long and troubled history. The capital of Hungary has been the focal point of numerous occupations and revolutions in its modern history and evidence of this past can still be observed today.
The city became what it is today after the merging of Buda and Pest in 1873 and Budapest is as fascinating as it is turbulent. The rows of preserved Art Noveau buildings and leafy avenues hide the scars left by the Nazi and communist regimes and today Budapest is a bustling city of culture, art, and character.
Social attitudes are slowly changing in Budapest and being LGBT+ is gradually becoming easier. This paired with a blossoming gay nightlife scene makes Budapest an excellent destination for gay travelers.
Széchenyi Baths are famous across the globe for their vast outside pools and long history, however, if you’re looking for a more serene environment to enjoy the thermal water consider visiting Gellért Baths. The cavernous art nouveau interiors of the baths have been likened to a cathedral and have been providing the citizens of Budapest with aquatic relaxation since the 13th century. Over the centuries, multiple additional rooms and baths have been added to the impressive complex that now houses ten pools, all of which are mixed-gender.
The water at Gellért Baths is kept at a temperature between 35 and 40 degrees celsius and the mineral-rich water is pumped from the rocks below the baths. The minerals and vitamins in the water are said to be incredibly healing and have been used to treat joint pain, muscle aches, and breathing conditions for centuries. Entrance to Gellért Baths is available for a fee and whilst it is considerably more expensive than some of Budapest’s other baths, once you’re inside the cost will be well worth it.
Whilst there is no established gay district in Budapest, the majority of gay venues are situated on the Pest side of the Danube. Here you’ll find a selection of gay bars, dance clubs, cruise clubs, and Saunas, although the scene is much smaller than in other European capitals.
With two popular and lively dancefloors, four bars, and a menu crammed with delicious and affordable drinks, you cant get a better gay clubbing experience than AlterEgo. The club is open on Fridays and Saturdays, often drawing in the biggest crowds of any of Budapest’s gay nightclubs. There is a rotating selection of themed nights and events so you won’t get bored of AlterEgo, regardless of how often you attend.
House of Terror
The House of Terror is located on Andrassy Utca, a beautiful avenue in an affluent area of Budapest, characterized by rows of trees, well-kept streets, and a pleasant atmosphere, but inside the House of Terror could not be more different. The building that houses the museum was once the headquarters for Hungary’s secret police force, a unit famous for their widespread persecution of political opponents and open barbarianism and torture. Upon approaching the museum, visitors will notice the large Iron Curtain memorial, as well as a slice of the Berlin Wall that has been preserved outside. Both installations set the tone for what’s to come.
The first section of the museum features a number of exhibitions and displays that detail the rise of the Hungarian Nazi party, their fall, and the subsequent Hungarian Communist rule. The basement of the building has been preserved and restored to resemble the original holding cells that were used by the Hungarian secret police, and many signs of torture and murder can still be seen today. The House of Terror isn’t an easy experience, and most visitors will be moved and sobered by the attraction.
Experiencing blindness doesn’t immediately sound like the ideal tourist attraction, however, the Invisible Exhibition is in fact one of Budapest’s most popular. At this immersive and innovative venue, visitors are able to experience a range of everyday tasks, entertainment, and even food through the lens of a person with blindness. From attempting to cross a road without sight to paying for a coffee, there are endless opportunities for education and exploration here.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the sequence of six fully furnished and realistic rooms. Visitors are invited to move through the space and explore the surroundings whilst wearing glasses that impair or remove their sight. The invisible exhibition is as informative as it is entertaining and the accompanying audio tours are available in a selection of global languages.
What better way to spend an afternoon in Budapest than touring the world’s largest collection of statues depicting socialist and communist leaders from throughout history. At Memento Park you’ll be able to stroll amongst the likes of Lenin, Marx, and Bela Kun, as well as over 40 other figures. The grand and imposing statues that litter the park are situated atop large pedestals and cast an imposing figure against the cloudy sky, Memento Park is equal parts perplexing, inspiring, gloomy, and fascinating.
One of the highlights of this socialist wonderland is the replicated remains of Stalin’s boots, famously all that withstood the crowd demolition of his statue in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The old barracks that sit at one end of Memento Park now hold a museum and visitor center that contains artifacts and information that chronicles the uprising of 1956 and provides an in-depth look at the figures immortalized in stone.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Budapest