A Solemn Moment at Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark in Budapest
T he Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark — or memory park, which is its translation from Hungarian to English — is located in the rear courtyard of the Dohány Street Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter District VII of Budapest.
Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg is honored as the Swedish humanitarian who selflessly and courageously saved the lives of literally tens of thousands of Jewish people when Hungary was occupied by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust era of World War II. Not only was Wallenberg posthumously the second person ever to become an honorary citizen of the United States in recognition of his heroism; but he is also an honorary citizen in Canada, Australia, Israel — and, of course, Hungary.
In addition to a memorial dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg, at least 240 other notable righteous people who were not Jewish but risked their lives to save people of the Jewish faith from slavery or death are remembered in the Emlékpark on four upright red marble plates.
A Solemn Moment at Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark in Budapest
Upon exiting the rear of the Dohány Street Synagogue is a cemetery on the left.
The rear of the Dohány Street Synagogue and the cemetery create a solemn — yet quiet and peaceful — place.
Greater than 2,000 people — who died in the Jewish ghetto during the winter of 1944-45 — are buried in the cemetery located in the backyard of the Heroes’ Memorial Temple.
The Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs resembles a weeping willow tree whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims; and the words “Is there a bigger pain than mine?” are inscribed on the tall double arch.
Imre Varga is a Hungarian sculptor, painter, designer and graphic artist who designed and created the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs.
The photograph on the left shows several dozen of the grave sites in the cemetery; while the photograph on the right shows a closer view of the names and tattoo numbers of Hungarian victims of the Holocaust inscribed on each metal “leaf” of the weeping willow tree known as the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs for eternal remembrance.
The streets of Budapest are seen in the background of this photograph of the Heroes’ Memorial Temple and the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs.
This photograph of the Heroes’ Memorial Temple — which was under restoration at the time — was taken from within the cemetery.
The Heroes’ Memorial Temple — which was designed by Lázlo Vágó and Ferenc Faragó — was built in 1931 in memory of the Jewish soldiers who were killed in World War I. It seats 250 people and is used for religious services on weekdays and during the winter.
I simply liked this design on each of the windows of the Heroes’ Memorial Temple.
Near the foot of this stained glass memorial is a black stone which lists Raoul Wallenberg and other notable people who were not Jewish but saved the lives of Jewish people. A wall at the rear of the memorial park commemorates individual victims of the Holocaust.
As customary of the Jewish faith, rocks are placed at the plaque in memory of Raoul Wallenberg. A small stone is placed on the grave or memorial to commemorate the burial and the deceased using the left hand of the person who is visiting, as it signals to other visitors that someone has visited the grave or memorial. Small stones and rocks are symbols which represent the lasting presence of the life and memory of the deceased person.
The Dohány Street Synagogue Operating Hours
The Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark is part of the complex of the Dohány Street Synagogue and is therefore subject to the same hours of operation.
Open at 10:00 in the morning every day of the week except for Saturday, when the synagogue is closed to visitors; but closing hours vary as shown below.
From November 2 through February 28 or 29 of the following year:
Sunday through Thursday until 4:00 in the afternoon
Fridays until 2:00 in the afternoon
From March 1 through October 31 of the following year:
Sunday through Thursday until 6:00 in the afternoon
Fridays from March 1 through March 31 until 3:30 in the afternoon
Fridays from April 1 through October until 4:30 in the afternoon
The last Friday in October until 3:30 in the afternoon
The Great Synagogue of Budapest is open through 2:00 in the afternoon twice during Erev Savuot and once during Erev Smini Aceret; and through 3:00 in the afternoon during the Jewish Summer Festival.
Keep in mind that the ticket office closes 30 minutes earlier than closing time.
The Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum are closed on the following days:
- March 15: National Holiday
- Passover or Pesach
- Rosh Hashanah
- Yom Kippur
- Twice during Sukkot
- October 23: National Holiday
- All Saints’ Day
- December 24 and 25 for Christmas
Address and Telephone Numbers
1074 Budapest, Dohány utca 2-8
Located in district VII., at an angle to Károly körút, between Deák tér and Astoria
Contact address: 1075 Budapest Sip utca 12
+36 1 343-0420
+36 1 317 2754
By the way, utca is the Hungarian word for street.
- Metro: Astoria station on the 2 line
- Bus: Routes 7 or 7A
- Tram: Lines 47 or 49
I walked approximately 15 minutes from the Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Center hotel property at where I stayed.
Admission to the Dohány Street Synagogue
1,400 Hungarian Forints or approximately $4.75 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card.
Admission to the Jewish Museum
Single ticket, museum only, without a guide:
- Adult: 2,000 Hungarian Forints or approximately $6.80 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card
- Student or pensioner: 850 Hungarian Forints or approximately $2.90 in United States dollars; or receive a discount of ten percent if you have a Budapest Card
Single ticket, with guide:
- Adult: 2,250 Hungarian Forints or approximately $7.65 in United States dollars
- Student or pensioner: 1,850 Hungarian Forints or approximately $6.30 in United States dollars
- With Budapest Card: 1,800 Hungarian Forints or approximately $6.12 in United States dollars
Group ticket of greater than ten persons, with a guide:
- Adult: 1,900 Hungarian Forints or approximately $6.46 in United States dollars
- Student or pensioner: 1,500 Hungarian Forints or approximately $5.10 in United States dollars
- With Budapest Card: 1,300 Hungarian Forints or approximately $4.42 in United States dollars
Inside the synagogue, men are required to wear a small skullcap called a kipah or yarmulke; but you will receive one at the entrance.
Unlike Dachau — which I visited on a cold and dreary autumn day and took plenty of photographs of my somber visit — the Raoul Wallenberg Emlékpark offers a peaceful place to contemplate what had happened in those dark days in Hungary in the 1940s, which is also well represented by the shoes on the bank of the Danube River.
All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.