EXHIBITION CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT.

Originally opened in 1939 and refurbished in 2013, Heroes’ Gate Exhibition Hall presents the building’s history as well as stories of Veszprém events and heroes from the 1848-1849 Revolution and War of Independence, World War I and II, and the 1956 Revolution and War of Independence.

The period in the 1930s when Heroes’ Gate was erected saw the construction of several other buildings and monuments designed to evoke the past or make use of the past as a memory. This was the time when the now iconic Saint Stephen viaduct was finished, heralding the technical achievements of the modern age. Foundations of the church of Saint (at that time Blessed) Margaret of Hungary, “Margaret Church” were laid, and attention was also paid to the restoration of Margaret Ruins, the remains of the Dominican nunnery where the young princess was raised for a few years. The twin statues of Saint Stephen and Blessed Queen Gisella were erected at the far end of the castle and have dominated the view ever since.  At the point where the city street enters the castle, Heroes’ Gate was constructed, dedicated primarily to the casualties of World War I but also to all former “defenders of the motherland”.

Looking around from the end point of the rock that the castle is built on, Benedek Hill, to the north we can see the silhouette of the Bakony Hills. The view to the east is marked by the slightly disproportionate building of Margaret Church; in the west there is the viaduct heralding the future and at the feet of Castle Hill stretch the districts of “the City of Queens”, parts of town full of local legends. Heroes’ Gate claims a special role in this space permeated with meaning and slashed by the effects of time. It simultaneously serves as a gateway to meet the heroes of the distant past (perhaps also in memory of those who defended the castle in Turkish times) and the recent past (soldiers of the two World Wars).

It was only to the end of the 1940s that Heroes’ Gate could function as it was originally meant to: a memorial. In the wake of the communist-Stalinist turn the Gate was increasingly regarded as a reminder of troublesome memories. Around 1949 or 1950 the marble plaques of the Heroes’ Hall located in the tower were destroyed. The sarcophagus was dismantled, and the remains of the unknown soldier laid to rest in it were scattered. In 1956 the building was presumed to be a stronghold of revolutionaries: the walls were hit by several bullets and grenades. Deprived of meaning and artifacts, the memorial site was allocated to the newly formed County Museum Directorate in the 1960s and reopened with an exhibition on the history of the castle. The caption “Castle Museum”, often seen on old postcards, was placed above the entrance at this time. This exhibition became awfully run down by the 1990s. The unduly neglected Gate was closed in 2005. For fifty years, this historical and touristic landmark of the city was a badly treated and mostly forgotten monument. This is why it became important to start renovation work out of European Union tender funds.

This time, a long-term utilisation concept was created by the city’s decisionmakers based on the plans of two architects, Gábor Turányi and István Zalavári, who worked together with specialists from Laczkó Dezső Museum, Veszprém. Prepared in 2004 and completed in 2013, reconstruction and renovation plans continued to convey the building’s message as a gate and attempted to regain its essence as a memorial site. Having kept the castle entrance function of Heroes’ Gate and strengthening its meaning as a memorial, the architects and museum specialists offered a new meaning of the building to locals and visiting tourists: a “mental map” of the castle hill and the city. Heroes’ Gate could reopen its halls in 2014. There is an exhibition on the lower floor and a panorama terrace upstairs.