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House of Terror Museum

I hate to be a "downer", but this was probably the biggest waste of time and money in my 50 years of traveling. On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd give it a 1-.

Maybe because I've seen The Occupation Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania; or maybe because I've visited dozens of museums where the staff didn't seem bothered and annoyed by a clients' business; or maybe because I've been to museums that made an effort to post information in other languages besides their own...namely English; but I felt the somber, pounding sound effects were a sad effort to create an appearance of tragic times.
Visit at your own peril. Two thousand ft's for admission, and another 1500 for a worthless audio guide.
Now the pinball museum, Flipper Muzeum, was another story! Awesome experience, and I'm a 68 year old grandfather with his daughter and 15 year old grandson. If you enjoy or enjoyed pinball at all, this place is a must see.

Posted by
2796 posts

Michael, I am sorry you found this a bad experience, and I have to add this disagreement to what you wrote.

For our part, we thoroughly enjoyed (if "enjoyed" is the proper word to use here since it has connotations of having "fun") our visit to the House of Terror a few summers ago, found the trip trough fascinating and educational. We did not find the need for the audio guide, we were able to gather sufficient information from the exhibits and from the many printed pages available for the rooms. And at 2000 fts, that's about 7 US$$s today, quite a bargain. We spent about 2 hours there, lamenting that we had to rush as we needed to get to dinner before the opera that evening.

Posted by
2393 posts

Not in English??? Why I don't know why a museum in a Hungarian country surrounded by countries that speak Slavic, Romanian, Czech, German, etc... wouldn't put up info in English!

What a mess it would be if they tried to accommodate every language. I have been to many US museums and they certainly do not have info plaques in every language.

If you did not like the museum that is one thing but do not fault them for not having English.

Posted by
37 posts

I figured someone would jump on that. Understood that their language is not English, and the universal language of Europe and many other parts of the world just so happens to be English.
Your response was expected. I speak German and Spanish fluently as well, but I also experiened and wise enough to know that if you intend to cater to international visitors, you had better at least make such info available in a more common language than Czech, Polish, Croatian, etc.
Your response was missing the point altogether, which wouldn't surprise me from immature travelers.

Posted by
8248 posts

When last in Budapest, we went to that museum. And I agree it was a disappointment.
Our time would have been better spent going to one of the other 200 museums in that city.

Posted by
1068 posts

To each his own. While not disagreeing with your perception for yourself, I thoroughly appreciated the House of Terror as did the other people with me. We had no problems understanding the exhibits even though I only speak English (and just a touch of classical Greek.) Like you, I have been to a number of sites about the Holocaust, and Nazi/Communist occupations.

Posted by
18871 posts

I learn something new everyday. I had no idea there was a pinball museum in Budapest. Outstanding! And I can understand that if you are interested in pinball museums how something like the House of Terror might not be your cup of tea. Apparently several people didn't feel like they got their money's worth as Trip Advisor reviews breakdown like this:

1601 Excellent / 963 Very good / 492 Average / 189 Poor / 100 Terrible
3500 ft is approximately $12.00.

It seems to me, and I may not be correct, that the last time I went they had typed up translation sheets in each room. But my memory could be faulty. Personally I thought it was well done; but that might only be because I had some background context from reading, etc. when we went; and maybe because I am at times overly agitated by the subject matter. In general I am not a great museum fan. For context on that time in history there are still places you can go and get it first hand from those that experienced it. Now, that interests me.

The Pinball museum does look interesting; but for me only because it looks to be in a great old basement. About $9. If that lights you fire you might also enjoy the Szamos Marcipán Múzeum in Szentendre.

Posted by
16143 posts

Just took a peek at TA reviews and there are multiple mentions from recent visitors of translated sheets available for reading about the exhibits:

"...and informative papers which you can also take with yourself to read later."

"The museum has 3 levels and you follow it round using sheets of A4 paper to read in each room that tell a different story (available in multiple languages)."

"There are info sheets posted in English but it's a lot to read while trying to view the exhibits."

"The museum offers audio tours for 1500HUF but you can also get the information in english on paper. Every room has a box with such papers. On this sheet of paper is alot of information. At the end of the exhibition we had a booklet of almost 35 pages."

Maybe you missed those?

Posted by
18871 posts

Kathy, so my memory was correct. I didn't trust myself because the OP was so certain.

When the place was planned in 2000 and opened in 2002 there wasn't a whole lot of tourism. The intent was probably more about posting a reminder to Hungarians; and if is successful in that regard, I would say it is a raving success. But they probably do need to catch up with the times.

Posted by
2393 posts

While English is the universal language I believe it mostly applies to business & international gov't affairs, not for tourism. Countries are still proud of their native language. How often do I read here to learn at least the polite words in the language of the country you are visiting - why would that be if English were so darn universal? I was scolded by a French Conductor once "You are in France you should speak French!", I apologized in my broken French. I encounter people everywhere we travel who do not speak English.

Stray beyond the typical tourist spots and you will encounter more people who do not speak English. Please inform them of the universal language.

OP - do not go to Momento Park then - it is all in Hungarian.

Posted by
2393 posts

Kaeleku - OP said it was the universal language - I was replying to that.

Posted by
18871 posts

Interesting dilemma. Should I be bothered if a venue in a country that I am a guest in didn't think it necessary to communicate with me in a language other than their own? Is it incumbent on them to learn my language because I want to visit? On the other hand, if you want to build a strong tourist industry, becoming more multilingual would be beneficial to that end.

Okay, if you speak three languages you are Tri-lingual
If you speak two languages you are Bi-lingual
If you speak one language you are ................................................... American! (ta dum!)

and the de facto lingua franca in this place was Russian until not too many years ago; and it still is Russian in most places east of Hungary. If that changes to English I suppose will depend on how much more land Putin "annexes" in the coming years.

Posted by
18871 posts

I read it again and i do disagree. Didnt say my language. Said other than their language. Actually to be better understood around my house you would need a language other than English.

On the other hand if a Bulgarian and a Ukrainian met in a bar in Belarus they would probably be speaking Russian and there would be a good chance that no one in the bar spoke more than the most rudimentary English.

And what of a Mongolian and a Tibetan at a Besbarmak food truck in Kazakhstan? I doubt there would be much English going on.

Or how about a Hatian and a Beninian drinking Sodabi in the Ivory Coast? Wouldn't it be just as likely they would be speaking French.

Speaking of French, what if it were a Madagascarian and a Canadian shooting craps in Texas? Tell me, what then?

To expect English is very Eurocentric which went out of style with Oriental Food. However, to be fair, this is a very Eurocentric forum so as my favorite SNL character use to say .................. never mind.

Or to put it another way. Does it really matter? The OP had an experience that didn't agree with him. He should be honest about it; as he was. The Museum has made certain judgments in the way the institution is run, and its their toy to do with as they want. I don't really see the issue here.

Posted by
53 posts

It's ironic to call English the "de facto lingua franca", isn't it? Maybe you should say "English is, in fact, the common language" ;)

Posted by
18871 posts

Hey Steve! Frankish language huh? So its 1690 and a Gual and an Salian are someplace off the coast of Morocco, suffering from scurvy: what language are they dying in?

Kaeleku , just playing.

Posted by
1878 posts

My wife and I thought the House of Terror Museum was very worthwhile. (Everyone is entitled to their opinion though). We visited in 2011 and again in 2014. I don't understand how anyone could not be moved by this sight. I probably would have been content with just the first visit, but my wife wanted to go back for the return visit.

Posted by
9109 posts

As a cold war history buff I love the museum. But the museum was designed in a direct in-your-face of Avant garde style, which could very well get under the skin a lot of people. So I'm not surprised if its a turn off to some.

Posted by
2635 posts

Add me to the people who found the Terror Haza one of the most fascinating, compelling and intense museums I've ever visited--that particular era of history is my favorite, and I did not rent an audioguide as there was indeed English info sheets in every room. I had no trouble whatsoever understanding everything I was seeing.

I'm adding the Flipper Muzeum to my list for my next trip to Budapest, thanks for mentioning that.

Posted by
920 posts

What Michael Schneider said.

Far too representational for me. I was not moved by it. And that's okay. For visitors who were moved by it, more power to you.

Posted by
14580 posts

I have not been to the Terror Museum in BP, it's on the agenda for the trip there. And there will be a next trip since BP is well worth the time. However, two of the times I've been in Budapest as day trips I spent most of the time (aside from lunch) at the Military Museum on Castle Hill, ie, went there twice. In fact, the first museum I went to, it was top priority.

Now, if you want to see a Museum without English, (I mean zero) explanation wise or audio guides, I suggest the Military Museum, where 99% is in Hungarian. The other 1% is in German, if you can read German, which is no problem in cutting through it. If you don't know either language or the history covered as respects to the time span , eg, the important dates in Hungarian history within the frame work of modern European history, such as 1848-49, 1867, 1914, 1919, WW2, esp. 1944 which the Hungarians call the :"German Invasion" and of course, 1956, you're out of luck. I was not asked if I wanted an audio guide; on the other hand, I didn't ask if they were available, most likely not. As a rule I don't bother with audio guides in a history museum.

I saw museums in Germany and Vienna in the 1970s, including Mozart's House on Getreidegasse in Salzburg, in some of them none of the written explanations was in English, unlike now. It was expected that you read the language. The Military/Army Museum in Vienna is still in German, most of it, except the new expanded WW1 exhibit.

Posted by
11294 posts

In 2008 when I went, the House of Terror Museum had English explanation sheets in every room. The video shown on the elevator down to the basement had English subtitles.

How someone feels about a museum is, by definition, subjective. But unless they've removed the papers in the rooms, there is indeed plenty of English language information in the museum.

I also "enjoyed" it, by the way (I understand that is not the right word).

Posted by
1696 posts

I thought the Museum of Terror was worthwhile, thought-provoking, and informative.

Furthermore, there was information available in English for each section. That said, I am 58, fairly well-travelled, and I do not expect people in other countries to cater to my shameful lack of linguistic ability. (I speak only English and some French.) In fact, I find it humbling that so many people in Europe are able to speak multiple languages, and I am grateful for their willingness to accommodate me in that regard, but I certainly don't expect or demand it. I don't think that's immature. I think expecting others to speak English or provide English translations, and to pout when that doesn't happen (or, worse, when one couldn't be bothered to notice and appreciate that it did happen) is immature.

Posted by
40 posts

The Flipper Muzeum is on our Budapest list of things to do.
Also the House of Terror Museum.

Posted by
34 posts

Went 2 days ago. Well worth the trip. Very moving. I didn't use the audio guide but read the handouts. Most interview videos also have English subtitles. The elevator ride down to the basement was quite powerful as was the basement itself.

Posted by
61 posts

It was very informative and there were audio guides and the handouts in English. I had thought there would be more information about the Holocaust, though, so I visited the Budapest Holocaust Memorial later.