12 Astonishing Remnants Of Communism In Europe

Lani Seelinger

The legacy of communism in the countries of the former Eastern bloc is ever present, but it is not always easily seen on the outside. Stalin and Lenin rarely show their faces anymore, and older architecture has given way to the contemporary. Still, the savvy traveller looking for this history in Europe can be satisfied if she knows where to look, and here are 12 great places to start.

Stalin in front of the shrine around his childhood home

1. Memento Park, Budapest, Hungary

Museum, Park

Stalins Birthday Cake, Riga, Latvia
© Lani Seelinger
When the communist regime in Hungary fell in 1989, the sculptures celebrating socialism and all of its ideals weren’t destroyed – they were collected into a park of epic proportions. You’ll find Lenin, numerous war heroes, workers reaching out towards a bright future, hammers and sickles, and, most notably, the shoes remaining from a Stalin statue that protestors pulled down during their revolution, which eventually became a symbol of the newly formed democracy.

2. Hotel InterContinental, Prague, Czech Republic


House of Government
© Lani Seelinger
When you’re wandering around the old center of Prague, perhaps the unending charm of the buildings will get old, and you’ll want a little something different. If so, look for the Hotel InterContinental, a real gem of the Brutalist movement, completed in 1974. While Brutalism was in fashion throughout the world, the Czechoslovak communist government was very proud of this particular building, and so sent all of the visiting Soviet delegations to stay in the luxury penthouses there.

House of Government, Minsk, Belarus

To be fair, all of Minsk is practically a living museum of communism, including the authoritarian government. However, the House of Government on Independence Square with a statue of Lenin standing out in front is a real high point. Built in 1932, it is one of very few buildings that survived World War II. At night, Lenin casts an imposing shadow, and that plus the single guard standing watch will make you feel like you’re walking around a Soviet spy movie.

House of Government, Independence Square, Minsk, Belarus

Metro, Minsk, Belarus

The oldest part of the two lines in the Belarusian capital were finished in 1984, and they are an ideal representation of what a Soviet metro was supposed to be – grand, with all of the stations named to celebrate the country. They haven’t bothered to change anything about the old stations, including the names. You can still find Lenin Square, which leads to the government buildings; Oktyabrskaya, which refers to the 1917 October Revolution; and, of course, Moskovskaya.

Metro, Minsk, Belarus

Soviet War Memorial, Budapest, Hungary

Most of the Soviet war monuments in Budapest have since found their way to Memento Park, but only a few blocks away from the Parliament, you can find one that the Russian and Hungarian governments made a deal to maintain. It is a great example of Soviet Pride, featuring all the typical communist symbols – stars, sickles, and the like. Perhaps most entertainingly, there’s a statue of Ronald Reagan not 50 meters away from it.

Soviet War Memorial, Budapest, Hungary

The Palace of Science and Culture, disappearing into the fog

Largo, Sofia, Bulgaria

One of Sofia’s main sights to see, the Largo is actually comprised of three buildings together: the former Party House in the center and two other large, Stalinist buildings on the side. These are now a mixture of government buildings and private enterprises, including a hotel and the offices of the President. While the obvious symbols of communism have been removed, like the red star and a Lenin Statue, the Stalinist style is still quite striking.

Largo, Sofia, Bulgaria

The Russian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, and Berlin, Germany

The Soviet Union had to represent itself abroad, and that means that you don’t even have to venture out of Western Europe to find a couple of great Stalinist buildings. The former Soviet, now Russian embassies in both Berlin, Germany and Helsinki, Finland look just the same as they once did, only you’ll find a different flag flying above them. They won’t let you in to explore, but you’ll be able to see some good communist symbolism from behind the fence.

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