House of Terror Museum

Now we all like the good old British Museum, but here at DigVentures, we like to venture a little further afield. So, for this week’s #MuseumMonday, we visited the Terror Haza (House of Terror) in Budapest, Hungary.

Tucked away in the historical Andrassy Avenue Boulevard, the House of Terror is a multi-sensory memorial to terrors of the political police, first under the Fascists during WWII and later under Communists.

Stretching over four floors, the House of Terror is an historical monument in itself: used by the Nazi aligned Arrow Cross Party during WWII as a place of secret imprisonment, torture and killing of political prisoners, which came to be known as the “House of Loyalty”.

When the Soviets liberated Budapest and the ÁVO and ÁVH (Hungarian versions of the KGB) took over the building, the interrogation, imprisonment, and execution continued and the name changed to the “House of Terror.”

Purchased in 2,000, the building has now been stripped back to recreate the grim conditions in which the prisoners were kept and killed. The gallery features photos, historical momentos and video footage to create an immersive experience of life in Hungary during these dark times, while a trip down to the basement allows visitors to see the different types of cells in which prisoners were held, describing methods of torture used to break the will of their captives.

And, just in case this doesn’t haunt you quite enough, composer Kovács Ákos created an eerie soundtrack to the gallery, helping to set the mood for each exhibit.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! This museum is a powerful reminder that even the most brutal of regimes can be overturned, and the people imprisoned in this very building fought to the bitter end. The exhibits also act as a memorial for those who sacrificed their lives fighting against these oppressive forces and ultimately giving their lives for freedom. It’s all a rather humbling experience.

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Sarah Ashbridge

Office monkey by day, forensic archaeologist by night, Sarah Ashbridge is a jack-of-all-trades and the master of one: the forensic identification the War Dead. She trained originally as an Egyptologist, but interests in the history of death and burial saw her make the step into archaeology, completing an MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Crime Scene Investigation at the University of Bradford. Armed with an ever-increasing library of books, a handful of illustration pens and a brand new trowel, Sarah writes our regular #WWWednesday column, working towards her PhD in Forensic Archaeology.

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