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A crash course in Budapest

www.inyourpocket.com/hungary/budapest www.caboodle.hu www.xpatloop.com www.pestiside.hu www.chew.hu

Papers that Hungarian Eggheads Read For want of a better newspaper, Hungarian eggheads tend to read the formerly Communist, now (foreign-owned) independent Népszabadság (“People’s Liberty) the largest circulation daily. In 1990 Péter Esterházy, the influential writer, wrote about this paper: “Now it is only its name I hate,” which the paper used the following week as an advertisement. Others include Heti Világgazdaság (the Economist-like weekly, which was established ahead of its time in 1979), Élet és Irodalom, a literary weekly, and Magyar Narancs (“Hungarian Orange”, which is a sort of cross between the Village Voice and Libération). It is named for the Communist government’s silly one-time attempt at growing oranges. See the film The Witness (page 334) for more on the name.

The Liszt Music Academy The most important venue of the prodigiously lively classical music scene is the Liszt Music Academy. Its landmark art nouveau building and big concert hall are worth visiting, even for a minor musical event. The smaller room opens from the first floor, where there is a huge painting, The Spring of Arts. There was musical graffiti in the gents’ restroom downstairs in the late 1980s that read “Viva Brüggen!”, but it disappeared during a redecoration. Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály used to teach upstairs. It is being renovated, for the time being. (VI. Liszt Ferenc tér 8., at Király utca, www.lfze.hu). See Walk Five.

Katona József Theatre One of Europe’s best companies, this theatre is a member of the European Theatre Union (which includes the British National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company), and it has staged more than a hundred performances abroad. The theatre was established in 1982 by innovative, though mainstream, actors and directors who were forced out of the National Theatre. It

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has a large repertoire, including well-known classics. It plays in a small house, in an even smaller studio nearby called Kamra (“Larder”), and in a third, tiny space, for super-experimental and poetry events. In the bigger place there are only about 250 seats, so it’s not easy to get in, and there are no performances in English. (V. Petőfi Sándor utca 6., www.katonajozsefszinhaz.hu)

Cinemas The ever-growing number of multiplexes has killed most of the traditional one-screen cinemas in Budapest. But the rich art movie supply – almost on a level on par with Paris and New York – is still here. One, the Corvin Film Palace, is the flagship of a company called Budapest Film, owned by the city of Budapest. (See Walk Five.) General conversion pains (due to the free market) somewhat delayed the Hungarian movie scene’s attempt to follow international trends. But by the end of 1998, the number of movie seats in Hungary had doubled with several new multiplex cinemas opening. The biggest complex, called Arena Plaza, opened in early 2008 with 22 screens, including a 3D IMAX theatre. It is located near Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), in the site of a former racetrack. If you are a cinema buff and you care about the general atmosphere of the place, then you should visit the Uránia National Motion Picture House (See Walk Three, page 197.) or the Puskin Cinema (V. Kossuth Lajos utca 18.), which was originally built in 1926 and was called Forum cinema. It has been called Puskin since 1952 and its name was not changed in 1990, when the names of the other Communist-era cinemas (Red Star, May 1, Bastion, and the like) were changed back to the original. Beware of the abbreviation “mb.” (Hungarian speaking) in the listings. MOM Park multiplex in Buda is the specialist of subtitled versions of blockbusters.

Stairs The most famous and best known stairs in Budapest – and the most romantic place to meet a wife, girlfriend or girl friend – are those of the National Museum near Kálvin tér (See Walk Three). That is where people think Sándor Petőfi, the youthful leader of the 1848 Revolution, recited his freshly written poem National Song on the afternoon of March 15 (although research has proved this wrong). Another staircase that is ideal for the first or second date, or the first kiss in daylight, is on the Pest

2011.04.20. 15:49:05

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András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

András Török's Budapest: A Critical Guide  

The Celebrated Insider's Guide, upgraded many times, probably the deepest and funnieast and truest portrait of any major European city. With...

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