So, back to Hungary. As mentioned before, the Soviets left behind a lot of crap when they left. This stuff has become such a part of daily life that, in some places, even an enormous, spooky-looking, derelict mansion-castle that towers over the rest of the village is nothing but a minor eyesore to flavour the heavy trudge through daily life.
Such seems to be the case in Hajmáskér. We were cruising down the motorway from Veszprém to Budapest when Mook, eagle eyed, spotted what looked like a small castle town on the north side of the road. Why not live the dream that everyone talked about, taking our little car to wherever catches our fancy, and go check it out? So we did, and this is what we found:
Right behind a huge block of apartments, just simmering in the July sunshine. Doing a bit of googling, Hajmáskér was the site of a military settlement constructed by Franz Joseph I of Austria, and at one point in history was the home of Hungary’s largest shooting range. This building was perhaps part of the artillery barracks of that time, and during World War II (if Google translate is correct) it was occupied by Nazi Germans who had found allies in the Hungarians. After the war, the Soviets occupied the building until the fall of the Soviet Union.
But we didn’t have the slightest idea what it was at the time; we just decided to go in.
You could hear voices coming from the upper floors in the main building, making some pretty ghostly shouting sounds that gave goosebumps, despite the summer heat. The building is in pretty shabby condition but the upper floors, with glass windows still intact, either make a reasonable shelter for some poor souls, or a great hideout for the local kids.
It was cool but pretty empty, so we decided to make and exit and have some breakfast. On our way out of town we saw another awesome sight: A huge brick tower and a cool old Soviet-era water tower. Unbelievably, these were abandoned too. And from what we could tell, so were all the buildings around them. Poor Hajmáskér, really living up to Hungary’s reputation as the Detroit of Europe.
There was surprisingly little graffiti in either of the buildings, leading us to believe Hajmasker has more metal thieves than they do young people. Oh Hajmasker, how you remind me of home.