The Grandstand is a 1:1 replica of the tribune serving as the pedestal for the 8-meter-tall bronze statue of Soviet party secretary, head of state, and general, Stalin. The tribune used to stand on ‘Felvonulási tér’ (Parade Square) in central Budapest, where parades took place on Communist holidays. Communist leaders would stand on the Grandstand at Stalin’s feet, waving at marching crowds that had no choice but to cheer them and celebrate.
The crowd revolting against communist oppression sawed the statue at its knees and pulled it down on the 23rd of October, 1956. The General’s boots, however, remained on the pedestal to be a sarcastic reminder of the dictator.
As of now, anyone can ascend to the balcony, wave at fellow-visitors, and marvel at the view.
‘In 1956, the drama of events were unfolding quickly: the morning of October 23 was quiet but by the evening the revolution’s fire ‘was blazing with flames’. There must have been a point, a moment in time when the revolution was born. The Stalin Grandstand and The Boots on the two sides of Witness Square serve to commemorate that moment: …Stalin’s Grandstand being an architectural memento and an eternally significant shrine of the megalomania that characterized dictatorship, and The Boots – being more than a torso, a monument in itself – the world-renowned symbol of people’s longing for freedom.’
(Ákos Eleőd, conceptual architect of Memento Park)