Like every city, Budapest has its own particular lore, as well as having been influenced by a hodgepodge of external cultural forces, be they political or cultural. This is why you can find not one, but two statures of Ronald Reagan in the city, in addition to a statue of TV detective Columbo (Peter Falk) intermingled with tributes to prominent Hungarians. Coupled with whimsical tributes to local legends, Budapest is home to an amazing array of street art in the form of its statutes. Because it is both central and large, many of the most striking and photographed statues of the city are in the much touristed 5th District. Let's have a look at a few of the more curious ones.
Downtown in the inner 5th District is where you will find a statue of a fat policeman. It is said to commemorate a hedonistic cop who loved wine, women and song, and merrily went about his days drinking and twirling his moustache at his romantic prospects. Passers-by rub his protruding stomach to bring luck in love.
You can also find a statue of American TV character Columbo in the 5th, scratching his head, looking at his dog. Perhaps he is wondering how he ended up in Budapest. The solution is easy: Peter Falk, the actor who plays the iconic private-eye, has Hungarian roots on his mother’s side, and the Columbo statue is on Falk Miksa street. Though no familial connection as been made between Peter Falk and Falk Miksa, that didn’t stop the city from erecting this popular tribute to yet another entertainer with Hungarian blood to make it big in Hollywood.
While there is a bust of Ronald Reagan in the city park, the more prominent version of him was erected in Szabadság Square, not far from the American Embassy. Reagan’s contribution to ending the Cold War was acknowledged with this statue, which tourists happy throw their arms around and take selfies with.
Perhaps the most iconic and photographed statue in Budapest is that of the Little Princess, along the Danube promenade. The sculptor, László Marton, tells of its inspiration: "I modeled it after my own daughter. She was maybe six years old and playing in the garden. She dressed as a princess: laid a bathrobe on her shoulders and put a crown on her head. I managed to capture this moment and immediately felt that this was a successful work of art. Years later, the capital requested a statue from me. I immediately thought of the "Little Princess" and luckily we managed to find the place where the statue feels good."
There are replicas the Little Princess in Hungarian village of Tapolca and in front of the concert hall of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space in Japan, both donated by the artist.
Given the eccentricity of taste in the city, is it only a matter of time before we see a Bud Spencer statue in Budapest's statue-friendly 5th District?
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