In a country full of beautiful old castles, from a distance the pointed towers of Hajmáskér’s tallest building make it easy to mistake for a palatial palace in the middle of the Hungarian countryside. But upon closer inspection, the grim and dilapidated building begins to reveal its history as one of the largest barracks in Eastern Europe.
A military settlement was established at Hajmáskér at the end of the 19th century by Franz Joseph I. Under his orders, the stately building was constructed as a barracks for artillery units who had been assigned to what would become Hungary’s largest artillery range. During World War I, the self-sustaining camp grew so large that it held a POW prison and even had its own currency.
World War II saw the settlement, and the building, change hands as Nazi troops rolled in and established a base. But after the war the Soviet army moved in, remaining residents of the castle-like barracks until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. Hajmáskér was then promptly abandoned by the soldiers, though local residents rumour that the troops stripped the building of any valuables they could find on the way out.
In the 25 years since, the building has aged gracefully in some places and disintegrated in others, and the whole area exudes a silent, eerie vibe in the centre of Hajmáskér village. Visitors to the Hajmáskér barracks can sometimes hear ghosts, well, more likely the ghastly howls and whispers of local children who play amongst the decrepit and dangerous ruins.
Know Before You Go
Easy to spot from the main highway, on the east side of the town of Hajmaskér