Andrássy út ends in grandeur at Heroes' Square, with Budapest's answer to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Cleaned and refurbished in 1996 for the millecentenary (1100th anniversary), the Millenniumi emlékmű (Millennial Monument) is a semicircular twin colonnade with statues of Hungary's kings and leaders between its pillars. Set back in its open center, a 118-foot stone column is crowned by a dynamic statue of the archangel Gabriel, his outstretched arms bearing the ancient emblems of Hungary. At its base ride seven bronze horsemen: the Magyar chieftains, led by Árpád, whose tribes conquered the land in 896.
Before the column lies a simple marble slab, the Nemzeti Háborús Emléktábla (National War Memorial), the nation's altar, at which every visiting foreign dignitary lays a ceremonial wreath.
In 1991 Pope John Paul II conducted a mass here. Just a few months earlier, half a million Hungarians had convened to recall the memory of Imre Nagy, the reform-minded communist
prime minister who partially inspired the 1956 revolution. Little would anyone have guessed then that in 1995, palm trees—and Madonna—would spring up on this very square in a scene from the film Evita (set in Argentina, not Hungary), or that Michael Jackson would do his part to consecrate the square with a music video.