Shoes On The Danube Promenade – Budapest, Hungary

I am sure you are thinking “What the heck do you mean by ‘Shoes on the Danube’?” Well, today is your lucky day, as I am going to tell you.

Sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay have created a moving memorial to the Holocaust atrocities.  The memorial sits alongside the Parliament building on the edge of the Danube River.  It honors the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II.

House of Parliament Budapest Hungary

House of Parliament Budapest Hungary

Shoes on the Danube Promenade

The victims had to take their shoes off before being executed, since shoes were valuable belongings at the time.  They were shot at the edge of the water, so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away, to spare the fascists from having a burial.  The site is a symbolic location, as this part of the embankment was not the only one used for this purpose.

Exploring Budapest Hungary - Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Exploring Budapest Hungary – Shoes on the Danube Promenade

There are a total of 60 pairs of rusted cast iron shoes, which were placed on the embankment on April 16, 2005.  We visited exactly 9 years later.  Each pair of shoes was modeled after a contemporary shoe from the 1940’s.  Different sizes and styles reflect how nobody was spared from the brutality of the Arrow Cross militia (the shoes depict children, women, businessmen, sportsmen etc.).

Budapest Hungary - Anya viewing the Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Budapest Hungary – Anya viewing the Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Anya was very touched with this memorial, as seeing the empty shoes made a profound impact and made it “real”.  She wanted to touch the shoes and was full of questions.  It is difficult to share the brutal truth about history, but it is also important that the kids understand the history.  To be true global citizens, they need to know the good and the bad, to help prevent things like this from happening again.

Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial at the Danube to the victims of the Holocaust

Shoes on the Danube Promenade
Memorial at the Danube to the victims of the Holocaust

Many of the shoes were filled with small rocks.  I am not sure what this symbolizes, but it did seem to be intentional.

Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial

Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial

 

Getting to the Shoes on the Danube:

Take Streetcar 2 either to Széchenyi István tér or to Kossuth tér.  The memorial is between the Parliament Building and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, by the Danube.  So if you are facing the river, it is just to the left of Parliament along the river about 500 meters.  Directions below are from Parliament to Shoes on the Danube Promenade.

Map to Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Map to Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Would you like to learn more?  Check out these interesting educational activities contributed by Jessie Voigts.

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About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She's visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain.

18 thoughts on “Shoes On The Danube Promenade – Budapest, Hungary

    • Hi Gina, thanks for stopping by. It is tough, but we don’t want the kids to live in a glass bubble either. I guess we go with what we feel is appropriate, at the time, and hope it was the right thing to do.

  1. What’s in the jars? I think the rocks in the shoes are because of the Jewish tradition of leaving rocks on a grave (instead of flowers). There’s a few different reasons I’ve heard for this but I do know it’s very common to see rocks covering a Jewish grave stone.
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    • Oh Amanda, thanks so much for the info on the rocks. I didn’t know about that. The jars had candle wax in them. We were there during the day, but perhaps the light them at night?

    • Oh yes, it was very emotional and really makes you think. So very sad. This is why we love travel, to remind us to appreciate life and others. Thanks for stopping by!

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