We first visited the Terror Háza Múzeum or House of Terror in Budapest a few years ago and were so impressed with its cutting-edge exhibits — more akin to art installations than museum displays — that we had to return this trip.

We’ve been avoiding the top 10 sights and must-do monuments on our grand tour in favour of slowing down, exploring neighbourhoods, learning things, and connecting more with locals, and have only made exceptions when a museum has been in our neighbourhood and has helped us to get beneath the skin of the place and understand the people and culture of the city, such as the Tenement Museum did when we were staying in New York’s East Village.

That the House of Terror was on our street, Andrassy Avenue, and just a few big blocks from our apartment was reason enough to return and it’s an easy museum to visit in some ways. The imaginative and dramatic displays are attention grabbing and stunning to look at.

But read the text, listen to the audio, and scrutinize the visuals, as you stroll through the absorbing spaces, and you’re taken to another, deeper, emotional and intellectual level. Many of the stories are simultaneously unfathomable, disturbing, and mind-boggling.

Knowing that the building was the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazi party in 1944 and the residence of two Communist terror organizations from 1945 to 1956, and that unimaginable horrors, including endless interrogations, horrific tortures, and murder were committed here, makes a visit to the museum all the more sobering.

After a visit to the House of Terror, you will look at the older locals you encounter, i.e. the people who lived through the Communist period, and possibly World War II before that, in Budapest in an entirely different and more sympathetic way. If there is one sight you must see while you’re in the city, then for us, this is it.

House of Terror
Andrássy út 60, Budapest

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