Learn about the riveting and often terrifying history of mid-century Hungary
Our tour guide was engaging and well-spoken, thoroughly explaining the riveting and often terrifying history of the facility and ruefully admitting that photography is not allowed within the tour. Given that it became a top-secret facility during the Communist Era, and was opened to the world only in 2008, I guess it isn’t that surprising, though the ban on photos was disappointing.
First an air alarm system room was designed, and the air raid sirens were controlled from that room from 1937 until the end of the war. Shortly after the creation of the air raid siren room, the Minister of War teamed up with the Mayor of Budapest to authorize a first-aid facility in the same cave system. Construction commenced in 1941, with several wards comprising 94 patient beds and one operating theatre being crafted within the cave system. The hospital opened early in 1944, and was in full use from the time the Americans started aerial bombardment to the end of the Siege of Budapest in 1945.
Working under difficult conditions, medical professionals became heroes
We saw the tiny kitchen, which was only usable as a reheating and serving area, with food being prepared at the larger, above-ground parent hospital, St. John’s Hospital. This caused severe logistical issues during the bombardment and siege, as did the severe overcrowding and the lack of sterilization ability. The nurses and doctors worked super-heroically to save as many civilians and military lives as they could, and the eight Jewish doctors working there were given military uniforms so they could work safely – a sad comment on the times.
The end of the tour was an exhibit about all the nuclear disasters and bomb damage, as well as a plea for disarmament. Learning about the horror and concern by people all over the world expressed over nuclear weaponry and super-power bellicosity really opened our eyes to our country’s position in world politics.
It is definitely worth a visit when you adventure to Budapest. And contact us to book your trip today!
The Skinny: Hospital in the Rock, 1012 Budapest, Lovas ut 4/c, Ph: 36 70 7 01 01 01 Open: Every day, 10am – 8pm closed 1 Nov, 24/25/31 Dec, 1 Jan, pre-booked Hungarian language-only tours on 15 Mar, 20 Aug, 23 Oct); Tickets: Adult: 4000 Hungarian forint (HUF); 6-25/62-70: 2000 Hungarian forint (HUF), other pricing schemes available.
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