5 Parks of Soviet Sculpture That Are Worth Visiting

What to do with Lenins in 21st century? You can destroy and throw them away, but there were lots of them in every region, town, village. What about bringing them all in one place and arranging a kind of Leninland? Read about five Lenin parks in different countries and Ukraine too!

Memento Park. Budapest, Hungary

Probably the most famous open-air museum of Soviet sculpture. Here you can see almost cubist Marx and Engels, huge boots of Stalin, a statue of Béla Kun and other local communist figures. Soviet songs in the Hungarian language complement the atmosphere, a classic GDR-made Trabant car and a telephone booth from which you can “call” Lenin, Brezhnev, Khrushchev or Gorbachev. And they’ll even say something back.

Frumushika-Nova. Odesa region, Ukraine

Museum of the Socialist Realist Monuments is only a part of an ethnographic complex “Frumushika-Nova”, but a mighty one. Here there’s an Alley of Lenins, Soviet female workers, Trotsky, Gorky, many busts, bas-reliefs and even a few aircrafts — already 130 exhibits, most of which the founder Alexander Palariev collected before the start of decommunisation. The whole complex attempts to revive the memory of the Moldovan village destroyed after the Second World War with its traditional houses, sheep breeding, winemaking and agriculture. The attempt was successful, and every year thousands of tourists visit Frumushika, despite the difficult road.

Read more about monuments of the Soviet regime in Ukraine in conversation with photographer Yevgen Nikiforov “Leninopad and the Journey of Engels from Poltava to Manchester”.

Grūtas park. Druskininkai, Lithuania

Wooden walkways, guard towers, barbed wire fences — this park was created to remind of the atmosphere of the Gulag camps. The collection includes traditional monuments of leaders and party figures, posters with propaganda art, military equipment and a separate narrow-gauge railway exhibition. And then there’s the cafe and the zoo and the children’s attractions, and it’s all in the area of 30 football fields. The park has been controversial since its opening in 2001; some radical ideas have not been implemented, for example, the gulag train that was supposed to carry visitors.

Museum of the Partisan Glory "Spadchansky Forest". Putyvl, Ukraine

In the state reserve in Sumy region, you will find what you expect: a collection of artefacts from the history of the Ukrainian partisan movement and personal belongings of Semen Kowpak and other World War II figures. A separate open-air exhibition is the Park of the Soviet period. Everyone is here: Lenin, Stalin, Marx, Kotovsky, Shchors, Chapayev, Kirov, soldier and mother, pioneers, Mayakovsky and Gagarin. Such a neighbourhood is an exciting example of a park, in which “official” tyrants are mixed with cultural figures simply on the basis of time.

Alley of Soviet Monuments. Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

There is a Lenin park in one Kazakh city — various Soviet monuments were gathered and placed along the alley. While repairing the central pedestal, someone left an inscription on fresh cement: “Gods”. Is this a joke or a sign of admiration?

Park in Ust-Kamenogorsk is one of many in Kazakhstan. The attitude to the Soviet Union in different cities was different, and accordingly, the Soviet monumental heritage was perceived in different ways. We learned about what is happening today and whether it is possible to talk about decommunisation in Kazakhstan from researcher Kulshat Medeuova. Read her most interesting thoughts in the text “Hacking Lenin: the Fate of Soviet Monuments in Kazakhstan”.

Alley of Soviet Monuments, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan