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

Budapest Organized Tours

There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and so many great offers for you!



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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. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, there is no extra cost for you and we may receive a commission.

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

  1. One out of several important monuments in Budapest that really gets you thinking about how bad it must have been. It is a wierd feeling walking along places like this nowadays when everything around feels so safe.

    • 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!

  2. It was Shelly. I never knew about it until we were in Budapest and it was on the map, so we checked it out. I am so glad we did.

  3. Hi Micki, I know it is so sad and it is very difficult trying to figure out how much and when to discuss with the kids. I guess we just do what we feel is right at the time and then hope it was right. Every child is different and at various levels of maturity, so timing would be different too.

  4. Oh thanks Kerri. It was very powerful. I know you have seen some similar things in your travels as well, so thank you for sharing too.

  5. 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.

    • 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?

  6. What a very sad memorial, and so poignant to share with children, but I agree, learning about the world means the good and the bad so that we can live in hope that history will not be repeated.

    • 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.

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