At least 50,000 Hungarians, many carrying torches and candles, marched quietly past the Romanian Embassy to protest a plan to demolish thousands of Romanian villages.

Monday night's rally was the largest unofficial demonstration in Hungary since an anti-Soviet uprising was crushed in 1956. Police protected the embassy compound but did not interfere.The protest was organized by a dozen opposition and other unofficial groups, but it was officially authorized by police in this Communist country.

"Observers, watching the crowd and listening to the slogans chanted, felt the demonstration was pervaded not only by discipline, the knowledge of representing a just cause . . . but an awareness of Central European consciousness . . .," the government newspaper Magyar Hirlap said Tuesday.

Before the march to the embassy, about 30,000 people gathered on downtown Heroes' Square to hear speeches denouncing the forcible resettlement plan, according to the official Hungarian news agency MTI.

The proposed plan to raze about 7,000 of Romania's 13,000 villages has strained Hungarian-Romanian relations.