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The City and The Víziváros Area

Post Office Savings Bank (Postatakarék) 10G V. Hold utca 4. ••• “Hungarian style has no past but it does have a future”, said Ödön Lechner (1845 – 1914), one of the most influential architects of Hungarian art nouveau. When he finished this building in 1901, it received a warm welcome from his contemporaries who admired the simplicity of its handling of space and its use of Hungarian folk ornamentation. The beautiful plainness of the main walls gives no indication of how restlessly alive the building is inside and at the roof level. The building’s greatest attraction is undoubtedly its roof of green, yellow, blue and brown hexagonal tiles, hidden behind the yellow majolica waves that crown the top of the main walls. The roof is full of flowers familiar from folk embroidery, angel-wings, Turkish turbans and scary dragon tails. This, however, can only be inspected from farther away. A disciple of the architect once asked him: “But tell me, master, why did you build a roof so ornamented, as no one will ever see it from street level?” Lechner answered: “the birds will.” When Lechner died, all unionised building workers stopped work for five minutes. Batthyány Eternal Flame (Batthyány-örökmécses) 10H ••• On October 6, 1849, shortly after the suppression of the Hungarian insurrection against Habsburg rule, thirteen Hungarian generals were executed and the prime minister of the Revolutionary Government, Count Lajos Batthyány, was shot and killed on this site, which (as we saw above), was then the army barracks. Batthyány is commemorated by a permanent flame inside a red cup (Móric Pogány, 1926). Some years ago people living nearby were shocked to see that the flame – at the crossing of Báthory utca, Aulich utca and Hold utca – had gone out. They wrote indignant letters to a newspaper, and the permanent flame was quietly relit. In the dying years of the Communist régime, the police used force to break up several demonstrations here. Café Szabadság 10H V. Aulich utca 8., www.szabadsag­kavehaz.hu ••• This café of historical importance reopened late in 2008. Almost all of the original space was reclaimed, and someday maybe the missing section will be returned from the adjacent bank. They capitalize on the fact that Endre Ady (1878 – 1919), the iconoclastic, larger-than-life poet used to come here. It was not his favourite café, but he definitely wrote an important and

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mysterious poem here: “Struggle with the Pig-Headed Warlord” (1906). That’s why in the rear you can spot the lifesized poet scribbling something, probably this very poem, at a table. The exorbitant sum the owner poured into this project may never come back. Unfortunately, the laudable zeal in resurrecting this café did not come with good taste (note the kitschy, pseudo-authentic paintings created yesterday, the chandeliers and the massive, marble and granite-clad toilets). Don’t miss the upstairs, where you can smoke and see an untouched part of the ceiling. It’s a great hiding spot for secret lovers. Bedő House – Museum of Hungarian Art Nouveau 10M V. Honvéd utca 3., www.magyarszecessziohaza.hu, open Mon­­­day to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ••• The year 2000 was a great year for Budapest’s art nouveau fans. The renovation of their favourite building (Emil Vidor, 1903), which is one of the best kept secrets of the Lipótváros (Leopold Town) neighbourhood was completed. Inside there are fine details; stained glass windows in almost every apartment; nice, green doorframes; and brass peepholes on the front doors. The family of the one-time owner of the building still lives on the first floor. Tivadar Vad, a building contractor who had worked on the opposite bank and did a great job, was asked if he was interested in renovating this one as well. He was, in return for the ownership of the loft space. How could he have avoided a task like this since he was a lover and collector of Hungarian art nouveau? He rented, then bought the ground-floor shop space, which had been spoiled by a series of brutal and unprofessional alterations. He renovated it, had the portal reconstructed on the basis of a single photograph, and filled it with his own collection of furniture, textiles and glass. He created a three-level café and collection, which is practically a museum, even though it lacks detailed signs, and a catalogue. The author works in that block, in a loft space – isn’t he lucky?

Walk TWO

Walk TWO

West. The ambassador let him use his own third floor office and in 1971 he was forced to leave Hungary. He was an obstacle to the reconciliation between the Vatican and Hungary, a controversial one especially from the former side.

The City and The Víziváros Area

This part of the fifth district, called Lipótváros (named for Leopold II, Emperor of Austria, king of Hungary) swarms with people during the day, but is almost completely dead in the evenings. Its main street, the broad, elegant Alkotmány utca, does not really lead anywhere and so has little traffic. But this is the route taken by all important guests when visiting the Parliament. The Statue of Imre Nagy 10N ••• Imre Nagy (1896 – 1958) was a communist all of his life and allegedly had a dark career in the Soviet secret police in the 1930s. During the 1950s he was made prime minister in the very relative thaw in 1953. He was demoted

2011.04.20. 15:49:21

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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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