Photo: Alexander Stemp

Famous figures of past and present at Budapest Madame Tussauds

A new Madame Tussauds has opened its doors in downtown Pest, just three weeks ago on May 25. Needless to say, this deluxe and lavish affair hardly requires an introduction from me – the splendid historical and contemporary wax figure sculptures draped in highly elaborate settings say it all. Located in the grand Palazzo Dorottya between Vörösmarty Square and the Danube riverside promenade, the newly founded tourist attraction is the first full-scale international event of its kind hosted here in the Hungarian capital.

Pose for selfies with the 51 engaging public figures as you proceed on red carpet around the 2000 square metres featuring various world-famous people ranging from music and sport legends to political, royal and religious leaders. Today, Madame Tussauds continues to deliver an entertaining selection of global icons from both centuries gone by and present-day times, many with additional 21st-century interactive background displays.

Naturally there is a strong Hungarian set list – escape artist Harry Houdini plus showbiz and sport personalities such as actress and singer Katalin Karády, boxer László Papp, footballer Ferenc Puskás, actor Béla “Dracula” Lugosi, pop singer Jimmy Zámbó and Olympic swimming champion Katinka Hosszú. Local historical figures from eras gone by are represented by nobleman Lajos Kossuth, Empress Sissi and King Stephen I. Then there are poet and freedom fighter Sándor Petőfi, splendid artist Mihály Munkácsy and the refined composer and pianist Ferenc Liszt. Together, they all take us back through the centuries. Personally, I was surprised singer Judit Halász was not included – hopefully she will appear eventually.

Then we come to the modern-day celebrities, and just to name a few these include singers such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez and Freddie Mercury. Actors and actresses seen are Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, plus others. Attention also turns surprisingly to politics, as there are perhaps unexpected displays of Donald Trump and President Xi.

Photo: Alexander Stemp

Then to divert back to living memory Cold War times, there are portrayals of Ronald Reagan and Mickael Gorbachev – and remarkably in between these giants are the more gracious Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis.

The founder of Madame Tussauds, Anna Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) was a distinguished French artist, and she is now celebrated world-wide for the museums of exquisite wax sculptures. The first Madame Tussauds exhibition hall was founded in London in 1835. Her speciality was to portray famous persons in life-size forms and this trend still continues today, with Budapest becoming the 26th Madame Tussauds franchise around the world.

In addition to these creations in wax chosen for Hungary, several surprise features await visitors, especially the younger ones, as interactive screens, innovative light displays and sound shows, impressive audio-visual content, virtual reality adventures and selfie points add to the all-round experience and guarantee a memorable time. The celebrities and historical figures were selected after considerable market research, and negotiations for their use.

Budapest also has the illuminating Cinema Café with special visuals all around the walls and finally there is a souvenir shop.

Located in the heart of the city, Madame Tussauds will continue to welcome visitors all year round.

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