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sights & culture Nagyon Balaton

8 Balaton statues that reveal fascinating local history

Lake Balaton has plenty of statues – some iconic, some lesser-known – but these eight illustrate a story worth telling.

Imre Varga statues, Siófok

This 95-year-old artist has ties to Siófok, so many of his works can be found around town, such as the one depicting writer Gyula Krúdy. A lot of his other sculptures are in less-frequented spots. One of his most iconic works that stirred debate was originally at focal Kossuth tér in Budapest. The standing figure of Mihály Károlyi, first prime minister of the Hungarian Republic, was removed during the reconstruction of the square and erected in a small square in Balatonszéplak.

Lajos Kossuth bust, Balatonszabadi

The world’s first statue of 19th-century hero Lajos Kossuth stands in Siómaros, now called Balatonszabadi. The bust, at the junction of Kossuth utca and Enyingi utca, was inaugurated on 1 July, 1894. Designed by György Kiss and created by Antal Gerenday and his son, the sculpture was funded by public donation. It has been refurbished on multiple occasions. This protected monument is surrounded by a fence designed by Imre Makovecz.

Plinth marking the 1943 writers' summit, Balatonszárszó

Balatonszárszó hosted a major political event in 1943: the Soli Deo Gloria Society and notable writers held a summit where they discussed Hungary’s fate after the war. In the year 2000, the village unveiled this plinth to commemorate the occasion. The ten-tonne carved stone block is the work of Attila Diénes, showing books and faces, including those who participated in the summit.

Attila József memorial, Balatonszárszó

This statue is monumental. Located at Tóparti Park at the end of Jókai utca, this 1996 work was created by Tamás Ortutay. A peculiar cart carries the poems of Attila József, made up of 5,200 bronze letters. The statue was financed by public donation, including by many prominent Hungarian artists.

Aurelius Respectus tombstone, Balatonszemes

This carved stone tombstone honours a Roman legionnaire and his family. It was found in Pilisvörösvár long after it had been built into the wall of the town’s church in the 18th century – a 1932 renovation had covered it up. Somehow it ended up in Balatonszemes, where it was built into the garden wall of the Chemical Trade Union Children's Resort at Árnyas fasor 1. Today this operates as a spa hotel, and this piece of art history remains in the wall.

Balaton Wind statue, Balatonfüred

There are plenty of statues to discover near Vitorlás tér in Balatonfüred, but this one is a hidden treasure: a tall column topped by a naked girl waving a handkerchief stands by the boat stop. The work of Miklós Borsos, one of the most famous sculptors on the north shore, it was unveiled in 1960. Not to be confused with the Fonyód statue of the same name.

József Egry statue, Badacsony

It’s easy to pass by this statue that gazes into the distance near the pier – it’s a likeness of painter József Egry, created by László Marton. Standing on a basalt column, the bronze statue was unveiled in 1980. It depicts the Balaton painter in his old age, wearing a coat, lost in his thoughts with a stool and drawing board under each arm.

American pilots memorial, Szigliget

On 30 June 1944, Hungarian and German fighters shot down four American bombers above Tapolcai-medence. One fell in Somogy, three on the north shore, resulting in the death of 15 airmen. One of the planes crashed near Rókarántó hill in Szigliget, and a memorial was erected to honour their memory on 2 September 2000. The carved, bilingual marble plaque has been vandalised several times but it’s still there, surrounded by other World War II monuments.

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