Fiume Road Cemetery, Budapest.

Regular readers willl know that whenever I visit a new city the two things I seek out are Old Cinemas or Cemeteries.

Budapest, oddly, has no old, abandoned, repurposed or derelict cinemas. All of the cinemas in the city are either newish and operated by the Cinema City comany or still standing from the 80’s. Maybe there wasn’t much of a film scene before then. Maybe that’s a story for another time.

So, cemeteries then.

I was once told while I was training as a tour guide that you can learn a lot about the city you are in by reading the stone stories in any cemetery. Fiume Road Cemetery is no exception. Many of the stories that I have read about World War 2 and the 1956 revolution all end up here.

So, on a beautifully sunny winter morning in late January, I decided to hunt down the biggest and most famous cemetery in Budapest.

Famous not just for the people buried here but for events that happened during the second world war. A story for a bit later in this post.

The cemetery came to my attention just after I first arrived in Budapest.

The taxi that picked me up from Budapest airport took a route to my hotel that drove straight past Fiume Road Cemetery.

I’d seen an Obelisk poking over the top of a wall and then, as we drove along, the wall just kept going.

It looked like it was a huge cemetery and I knew that I had to visit.

The cemetery was easy to locate on Google maps and I planned a route to walk there.

It seemed further in the taxi but Budapest’s road layout is mostly one way streets. Rather than roads heading from point A to point B every route you take needs to take in point C and D on the way.

It took me 25 minutes to walk from my hotel as I could walk a more direct route.

Fiume Road Cemetery is one of the most beautiful I have ever visited.

If you read my recent post about Memento Park then you’ll know that a lot of Communist statues ended up there but, in the cases of those who were interred at Fiumei road cemetery, some of those statues were repurposed as grave markers.

Unike many cemeteries I’ve visited in the past nearly every name I Googled came back with a story of an incredible life.

As usual I’ve added links to many of these stories in the name of the person below the photo

Fiumei Road National Cemetery, (To give it its full name ) or Kerepesi cemetery (to give it its Hungarian Name) opened in 1847 with the first burial taking place some two years later.

Fiumei Road cemetery is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and is often compared to Peré Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

It’s such a beautiful space, I stopped several times just to admire the architecure and listen to the birdsong.

Some of the vaults were open like the one below but I am far too superstitious to enter one. Beside that, going into a vault in a cemetery is normally how horror movies start.

As mentioned I’ve researched a lot of the names that I’d seen in the cemetery and, where possible, I’ve added a link to thier Wikipedia page so you can read thier story.

As I’m currently in Budapest a lot of thoses stories are translated from the Hungarian Wikipedia page.

Lujza Blaha, Actress.

You’ll notice a lot af grave markers with the word “Csalad” on them. It’s the Hungarian word for “family”.

Imre Wampetich, Olympic rower.
Grave of Andras Vajna Hollywood movie producer who produced the Rambo movies, Total Recall, Judge Dredd, Iron Eagle along with first three Teminator movies. You’ll see a photo of Andras along with Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of the film frames that surround the column on the grave.

The damage on these two graves dates back to the second World War.

This explanation for the bullet marks and shrapnel damage from Wikipedia:

“In January 1945, a Soviet technical unit blew up a hole in the wall of the Kerepesi úti cemetery. The Red Army continuously moved towards Fiume Road and occupied the cemetery during a melee. The next day, a German counterattack was launched, but they were only able to recapture half of the cemetery. After the second, final occupation, the Soviets temporarily prohibited the public from entering the cemetery. Several fallen soldiers were laid to rest here, the Soviet military plots were formed during their reburial in one place. During the bombings, many cemeteries and monuments suffered serious, irreparable damage, some of them were completely destroyed. After the siege, a larger Soviet group was still in the cemetery for a few days. They robbed several graves and ransacked the Deák mausoleum, spending their time shooting at the more representative gravestones. They mainly targeted human figures. The traces of this rampage can still be seen today, almost every plot has graves with bullet marks on them.”

Dezső Bánffy, one time Prime Minister of Hungary.
Sándor Erkel, Composer
Miklós Barabas, Painter.
Jenő Péterfy, Historian and literary critic.

Above and below: József Antall, the first democratially elected Prime Minister of Hungary after the Socialist era.

Ferenc Erkel, Composer.
Ferenc Deák, Minister of Justice
Dezső Szilágyi, Politician
Karoly Lotz, Painter.
Bartha Miklós, politician
István Bársony, Writer
Sándor Popovics, politician
Leo Donáth, Sports Manager.
Károly Huszár, Politician.
Béla Illés, Writer.
József Darvas, Writer
Leo Weiner, Composer
Ottó Bláthy, Electrical Engineer.
Béla Illés Bitter, Cistercian monk
Jenő Sipőcz, Mayor of Budapest.
Zsigmond Farkasházy, Ceramist and Art History writer.
László Solymosi Gyenes, Actor.
Kamermayer Károly, First Mayor of Budapest
Buday Brown, agricultural politician and publicist.
Antal Hodinka, Historian
János Balassa, Surgeon
Antal Vetter, General
Ábrahám Ganz, Swiss Iron Casting Master.
Mihály Károlyi, Politician and Prime Minister.
András Csillery, Dentist and Politician.
Kálmán Fülepp, another former Mayor of Budapest.
Károly Trautsch, Music teacher.
Lajos Thalloczy, Historian.

I walked past this monument and noticed what a sorry state it was in.

It was falling to pieces.

Just as I was thinking to myself “That’s dangerous, they should rope it off or something…” I realised that while I was staring up at the roof I’d walked right through the taped off area to stop people getting too close.

Béla Radics, Composer

The Labour Movement Pantheon. Ths was originally designed to be a central burial place for The Socialist Hungary and erected in 1959.

It was designed for 365 urns but only around 75 have ever been placed inside.

The Eggenburger Family. Founders of one of the oldest bookshops in Budapest which closed in 1949.
Béla Nagy, specialist writer on numismatics.
Fireman’s Memorial.
Lajos Kossuth, former prime minister of Hungary. Whilst this mausoleum was started in 1909 it wasn’t actually completed until 2015 and yes, you can climb those stairs that surround the memorial.
Pál Vásárhelyi, Hydraulic Engineer.

Fiume Road cemetery, as I said at the start of this article is definately one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. I’ve been to Highgate, Brompton, Kensal Green, Peré Lachaise, Montmartre and they all pale in comparisson to Fiume Road.

Why? Well, there’s just something about it that just creates a peaceful place, an open space, full of light and nature.

While it saddens me that I may never have a chance to return to Fiume Road Cemetery again I have discovered some wonderful stories, and to me, stories are worth more than gold.


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