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SUMMER | 2019






Start taking new paths in Hungary Start Something Priceless Explore Hungary your way. Don’t exchange currency, use your MastercardŽ with ease.

Photo: © Brigitta Vajk


DEAR SPORT ENTHUSIASTS, Welcome to Budapest! On behalf of the Olympic family, it is an honour to greet guests arriving to Hungary when Budapest holds the title of European Capital of Sport, in a year when many large world competitions are held in Budapest in advance of the Tokyo Olympics. There are a wide variety of offerings. Athletes from nearly 150 countries participated in the World Table Tennis Championships held earlier this year, the organisation of the Olympic-qualifying Fencing World Championships is nearing completion, and plans are coming along well for the Kayak-Canoe World Championships in Szeged in August, and the Pentathlon World Championships in September. Three thousand competitors are expected to arrive in late July for the European Maccabi Games, and this year will also see the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix in early August. The torch relay for the European Games that will be held in Minsk in June saw the flame carried through Budapest’s Heroes’ Square, the Buda Castle District and Kossuth Square. I also cannot overlook the Budapest Grand Prix in judo. The Duna Arena, which debuted at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships, will host the Women’s Water Polo World League Super Final as well as the World Junior Swimming Championships. It is a special joy, that this issue introduces the Sydney Olympics’ breaststroke gold medallist and World and European Champion Ágnes Kovács, who in addition to being a member of the Swimming Hall of Fame is the 2019 Cultural and Tourism Ambassador of Budapest. I wish you all a pleasant read and a sporty use of your time!

Krisztián Kulcsár President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee

DEAR GUESTS, Budapest has been enriched with two more Michelin Stars, as Stand Restaurant and Babel Budapest won the award this year. Costes, Costes Downtown and Borkonyha all retained their Michelin Stars, and Onyx has retained both of theirs. We have introduced all of these restaurants in earlier issues, and now it is Babel’s turn. But it is not only our achievements in new-wave gastronomy that see the Hungarian capital receive accolades nearly every season. In the spring of 2019, Budapest was deemed to be the most attractive tourist destination on the continent, which was underscored by it receiving the European Best Destination title. This year tourists will also visit Budapest as the European Capital of Sport as it hosts world championships. The city can accommodate a large number of visitors in high quality hotels. A new hotel with an exciting atmosphere opened recently, which readers can discover in this issue. And those that opened their doors only last year are now already expanding their capacities. The Hotel Clark Budapest, located at the base of Buda Castle, has made their rooftop bar even more exclusive. This location also provides an excellent view of Budapest’s bridges, which are also discussed in these pages. We cannot deny that the historical parts of the city are slowly “becoming full”. That is the reason why we regularly encourage our readers to go a little further to other districts that are still easily accessible, so that they can become familiar with important locations from Hungarian urban and industrial history. And if you discover where the quarters of the future are coming to life, then you will never grow tired of Budapest.

Teodóra Bán Director Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre


SUMMER | 2019



Csepel: a new quarter is planned in the rust belt

Csepel: a new quarter is planned in the rust belt  4 From Grand Prince Árpád to Manfréd Weiss6

Budapest, the city of bridges 


Cultural Quarter 


The jewels of the Danube


Budapest Summer Festival A violin with a soul Asia’s treasures in the 100-year-old museum  Nikola Tesla, the forgotten genius

The jewels of the Danube

City Guide

33 Vilmos Oláh's Mystery Hotel Budapest

Programme Corner

On the cover: Mystery Hotel Budapest (Photo: © Zsolt Batár)

To see the location on the map, simply scan the QR code with your smartphone.


28 33 36 38


House of Secrets 42 A retro Garden of Eden 48 Beefbar Budapest in the Hotel Clark 52 Babel Budapest  54 Summer sport magic in Budapest 57 The Festival of Folk Arts60










Látványterv: © SNØHETTA


A new quarter from the old rust belt At first glance not many would think of all the beauty and excitement that lies behind Csepel’s industrial façade. Budapest’s oldest public statue, Hungary’s largest water tower, Andrea Rost’s alma mater, the vibrant aquatic life on the banks of the small branch of the Danube, and one of the city’s finest craft beer operations all belong to this part of Budapest. The future is undoubtedly exciting: preparations have begun on one of the most important and largest city development programmes of the previous decades in northern Csepel and southern Pest. A new quarter will be born with a university town numbering in the thousands. Underused brownfield sites will be rejuvenated. Sport and recreational facilities will be erected, among them an athletic centre with a capacity for 15,000, a rowing course and an extreme sports park. An illustration of the Budapest South Gate – Student City plan The winning design was submitted by the Norwegian SNØHETTA architectural office



Budapest’s District XXI lends its name to the largest island (257 square kilometres) in the Hungarian stretch of the Danube, which is so long that its northern tip is barely a few hundred metres from the Müpa Budapest performing arts centre. The island’s southern end, however, has Fejér County on one end, and Bács-Kiskun County on the other.

THE CSEPEL OF OLD According to archaeological finds, a settlement existed on the island 6-7,000 years ago during the Stone Age. Romans and then later Huns and Avars also settled in this area. Following the arrival of the Hungarians, it became home to Grand Prince Árpád, and then later his seat of power. That is how the settlement developed, which more or less stood on the site of what is Szabadkikötô (“Freeport”) today. The area depopulated during the 150 years of Turkish occupation, and in the


18th century Germans, Bunjevci and Dalmatians moved there, who primarily worked in viniculture. The most precious monument, the statue of St. John of Nepomuk that stands today in Szent Imre Square (which is Budapest’s oldest public work of art) was originally erected in 1712 in the heart of Pest at today’s Kálvin Square, and was relocated here in the late 1700s. Old Csepel was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1838. The area near Ráckeve, which was on higher ground and thus less exposed


to the flood, was designated as the site to rebuild on, and today this area is the centre of town. This sleepy community grew into a 20th century city with the arrival of the Weiss family. Csepel’s modern history cannot be separated from the story of Manfréd Weiss and his family (which is why the industrial magnate’s memorial is located at the district’s “gate” on the corner of Weiss Manfréd and Wein János Roads). The history of the factory that changed the settlement’s structure, appearance and fate did not start here, however, but on the border of Districts VI and VII at Lövölde Square. That it where the Weiss brothers, Berthold and Manfréd, the grandsons of a pipe maker who had immigrated from Bohemia in the 18th century, opened their canning factory. After a few months Hungary’s first canning company moved operations to Soroksári Road, and expanded their profile by supplying the army with its products (such as ammunition, military cannisters, and cartridges). By 1890 they also outgrew their site on Soroksári Road and set their sights on Csepel, which with its cheap labour and land prices, and of course proximity to the capital, proved an ideal choice. Berthold was elected to the National Assembly in 1896. Manfréd continued to steer the company on his own, which in a short amount of time grew to be massive in large part due to orders from the military. The company, which in 1893 employed only 150 individuals, employed 27,000 by 1917.

local schools, and both the Jewish and Christian faiths equally (such as the construction of the local Reformed Church consecrated in 1933). In memory of his wife who died young he founded a modern maternity home, with its own nursing school, which was the first place in Hungary to provide organised pregnancy counselling. The factory’s hospital, opened in 1916, served all of Csepel. The institution, located at Déli utca 11, preserves its founder’s memory through its name and the plaque on its wall.

A plaque on the wall of the Csepel hospital founded by Manfréd Weiss preserves his memory

The Weiss brothers participated in the founding of the Hungarian Industrial and Commercial Bank, and also amassed a large real estate empire. The family played an important role in

“A CITY WITHIN A CITY” In parallel to the factory’s development, the Manfréd Weiss Steel and Metal Works laid the foundations for new Csepel: worker’s housing, roads and childcare facilities were built, and a public kitchen operated. Manfréd Weiss supported the 7

the National Industrialists’’ Alliance, and had political influence. Weiss was also ennobled and made a baron by the king in 1918. The factory was nationalised during the 133 daylong Soviet Republic of 1919. Manfréd Weis was so shocked by the news that he attempted suicide, but his life was saved. He retook the company’s reins following the soviet republic’s collapse, and the company remained profitable despite the end of military orders.


The company launched a serious product development initiative following World War I: they produced pins, eating utensils, tin mugs, griddles, dustpans, irons, milk jugs, spraying tools, cooking and heating stoves, sewing machines, and vehicles, such as the famous Csepel bicycles and motorcycles.

TANKS IN PLACE OF MILK JUGS Weiss did not regain his earlier health, however, and he passed at Christmas in 1922. Leadership of this industrial empire was taken over by his son and sons-in-law. During the interwar period, the mammoth-sized company continued to expand, and in addition to agriculture (specifically seeds), paper and textiles they also established an airport, a free port, an oil storage facility and water facilities. The Manfréd Weiss Works also built tanks by the 1930s. The factory, from a military-industrial perspective, was of strategic importance, and was thus placed under military command in 1939. The German aerospace industry’s most advanced motors were assembled there from 1941. Following Hungary’s occupation by Nazi Germany on 19 March 1944, command of the works fell into the hands of the SS, and multiple members of the Weiss-Chorin-Kornfeld family were arrested and sent to concentration camps. In exchange for releasing them into neutral territory, they were forced to sign over their wealth, but this allowed for the family members to escape. Hundreds of professionals died in the area due to the bombings of the military works, and numerous machine types and blueprints were also destroyed. In addition to the Manfréd Weiss

Works, the Csepel Oil Company was also of military significance, which is where the Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertész, who wrote Fatelessness, was compelled to work alongside masons since at 14 years of age he was too young to be sent into the Jewish labour brigades. The Germans attempted to empty the settlement at the end of 1944, but the local residents prevented them from doing so. The end of the Second World War meant the dawning of a new world for Csepel as well. During the war bombings had cut the island off from the capital, and residents were forced to lead more isolated lives owing to the fighting. Many worked at the Manfréd Weiss Works, and they could more or less go to work, but those studying at secondary and higher education institutions had difficulty reaching Budapest. Consequently, after an initiative by parents, the Benedictine Order founded the Jedlik Ányos Secondary School​, which was Hungary’s first coeducational, tuition-free and state-supported church school. In 1948 the institution was taken from

the Benedictines and nationalised. Over the years the Jedlik has employed numerous exceptional teachers, including the excellent physics teacher Miklós Vermes, who arrived from the Fasori Lutheran Gymnasium (where the Nobel Prizewinners John Harsanyi and Eugene Wigner had studied, as had John von Neumann, the father of the modern computer), and brought with him the former school’s physics laboratory. Over the previous 75 years, the Jedlik has produced alum-

Photo: ©


A Manfréd Weiss automobile in Monte Carlo in 1929

ni such as the world-famous soprano Andrea Rost, the pentathlete Ferenc Németh, who won two gold medals at the Rome Olympics, or József Nepp, the successful animation director.

The Jedlik Ányos Secondary School​is on the verge of major renovations

THE DISAPPEARING PAST The majority of Manfréd Weiss’s family and descendants, once it became obvious that they could not return to Red Army-occupied Hunga9

ry, left for the United States. The works were at first under state oversight, and then nationalised once again in 1948. Leadership of the factory was given to the brother of “Stalin’s best student”, Hungarian Communist Chief Mátyás Rákosi. Csepel became a part of Budapest in 1950, and that same year the factory was renamed the Mátyás Rákosi Iron and Metal Works. Following the Soviet invasion of 4 November to crush the 1956 Revolution, Csepel held itself for a relatively long time. According to the literature, on 9 November Csepel was the strongest pocket of resistance, before ultimately falling. The new authorities removed Rákosi’s name from the factory, and the new logo for the Csepel Iron and Metal Works was seemingly a carbon copy of the old emblem from Weiss’s era, with the exception that the founder’s initials were changed to read iron works, and the oval frame was made into a stylised Cs. The disappearance of the old world accelerated during Kádár’s consolidation period: Csepel was built up with 10 and 15-story panel apartment blocks, and the population increased sizably. More than 10,000 “settlers” arrived as late as the 1980s. This was also when they erected the massive water tower at Kossuth Lajos Street, which is 70 metres tall and capable of storing 3,000 tonnes of water. The feeling of being weightless can be experienced at Skyward


Factory units with various profiles continued to operate on the site of the former Manfréd Weiss


Csepel, the everlasting purchased from Austria. The factory had two golden ages: prior to World War II, when in 1939 production neared 100,000 bikes, and after nationalisation, when during the four decades of communism multiple generations rolled around on bikes produced by the works in Csepel. During this period the Csepel Works produced 30 different models, of which the most popular was the foldable “camping bike”. The factory was among the first to be privatised around the time of system change (in 1988) and continued as a Hungarian-American company under the Schwinn-Csepel name. Owing to Schwinn’s bankruptcy in 1994, the American owner divested of his foreign

interests, thus also putting Csepel up for sale. Following several changes in ownership, the heritage of this nearly 100year old company is today carried on by the Hungarian-owned Csepel Zrt. Despite cheap mass-produced products imported from the Far East, the company’s situation was stabilised, and domestic orders undoubtedly played a big role in this. Employees of the Hungarian Postal Service and even the police rode Csepel bikes, and the bicycles that belong to the MOL Bubi bike sharing network were custom made by Csepel. The one-time classic bicycles have been transformed to meet the demands of the present, nonetheless some older-style models are still produced. Naturally the

Photo: © Máté Gregus

Ballon, Csoda, Diadal, Extra, Fecske, Leányka, Luxus, Pajtika, Rapid, Sparta, Super. These are all brand names from the legendary Csepel bicycle factory’s early product line. Manfréd Weiss founded the first bicycle factory in Hungary in 1928 in Csepel, because he recognised the business opportunity that lay in replacing the importation of 60-70,000 bicycles each year. The manufacturing basis for this was the licence purchased from the Puch Works in Graz, and the first few hundred bikes were still made in the Austrian city. At first Csepel only produced the frame, tires, mudguards and forks, with the remaining parts product line includes trekking, mountain and road racing bikes. A few years ago, the company made international news with something truly new: they introduced the “stringbike” at the expo in Padua. This bicycle not only does without the traditional chain (for a metal wire moves the back tire), but the string is on both sides as opposed to only one. Those who keep their eyes open are bound to see a few of these rolling around Budapest.

A classic Csepel motorcycle can be seen in Gábor Miklós Szôke’s workshop


Works, either as independent companies or as parts of a trust. Increasingly falling behind in research and development coupled with the mistakes of socialist company leadership, the massive factory became less and less capable of utilising its capacity. The trust was dissolved in 1983 and the 1980s saw increasingly worse economic results, thus by the time of system change a market share-losing and collapsing monstrosity stood on the site of this former ivory tower of heavy industry.

Photo: © Máté Gregus

Photo: © Máté Gregus



Numerous companies established themselves on the old works’ site following system change. To this day Csepel bicycles are made on the site of the Csepel Kerékpárgyártó és Forgalmazó Zrt., but the walls also contain an iron foundry, a machine tool maker and a printer. Escape rooms also operate there (Trap Factory is located beneath Központi út 35-47) with nine different types of exciting games. Anyone can experience the sensation of skydiving in the wind tunnel simulator (at SkyWard at Szérûraktár utca 53), but even a sound studio has been installed in this industrial site. The sculptor Gábor Miklós Szôke installed his studio into this industrial environment at Bronzöntô utca 1-8. Szôke made a name for himself by creating an enormous steel falcon for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, as well as the bear in Moscow’s Gorky Park. He


has also created the 16-tonne eagle that stands before Groupama Arena in Budapest and the depictions of aquatic animals that could be seen during the 2017 World Aquatics Championships held in Budapest. The sculptor also makes furniture, works with interior architectural solutions, and his workshop has hosted “nostalgia brunches” evoking the golden era of the Manfréd Weiss Works, as well as weddings. In 2017 the studio was

part of the CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival for a weekend. Szôke is currently creating two works destined for the United States, and a new work of his will also be revealed in Buda Castle in the near future. The history of the local sports association, the Csepel Athletic Club founded in 1910, has been tightly bound to the factory since 1937, when the association changed its name to the Manfréd

World-class footballers from the legendary Golden Team: a joint memorial for Zoltán Czibor and József Tóth II


The two-time Olympic champion canoer György Kolonics died while practising. His name is preserved by the Watersport Centre on Csepel The Csepel Bath will be renovated by the summer


Weiss Sport Club, which with its 20 sections was Hungary’s largest factory sporting association by 1940. The Csepel Stadium at Béke Square and the aquatic facility were also built at this time. Numerous significant athletes have competed as part of the club, among them the previously mentioned Ferenc Németh, as well as the most successful pentathlete of all time, András Balczó, the seven-time Olympic champion fenc-

er Aladár Gerevich, and the “queen of the kayak” Rita Kôbán. Two-time Olympic champion canoer György Kolonics died from a heart condition at the club’s aquatic facilities in 2008. Since 2013 the Kolonics György Watersport Centre located on the banks of the Ráckevei (Soroksári) Danube branch bears his name, which is currently undergoing upgrades. The complex will expand with a special

C SEPEL teaching pool, resting rooms and a conference room. Additionally, as a result of the increased green spaces, the building’s environment will also be more pleasant. Work is expected to be completed by the spring or summer of 2020, but the facility can still be used during construction works. The island’s eastern side, which is also called the Small-Danube Shore, is an ideal location for a number of sporting and leisure activities. The Csepel Rowing Club is located a few hundred metres north of the Kolonics Centre, and the walkway heading south features quite a few snack bars, confectioneries and restaurants, much like the Roman Shore in District III. This summer the renovated Csepel Bath will await guests at Hollandi utca 14, which provides a unique experience with it kid and thermal pools and sauna. Families with small children may find the pirate-themed playground on Hollandi Street a good choice, or the recently opened family park at Rákóczi Square, while adults may enjoy the Rizmajer Beer House, which features a variety of delicious craft beers ranging from traditional lagers to honey-orange-ginger, plum and cognac sour cherry. The company is expanding, for after launching from a small greenbelt street they opened another beer house on the Grand Ring Boulevard (Körút) in central Budapest, which is spread across three floors and draws beer from the kegs located in its cooled cellar. Theirs is truly a Csepel success story.

The pirate-themed playground



Látványterv: © SNØHETTA

Látványterv: © SNØHETTA


A MILESTONE OF BUDAPEST’S DEVELOPMENT In December 2018, the results of the Budapest South Gate International Master Plan Design Competition were announced. The project’s aim is to rejuvenate the neglected part of northern Csepel and southern Pest and to develop a district that will give this important but underused area new significance. The liveable and health-conscious city development plan that will go along the small branch of the Danube will place an emphasis on “green solutions”, park development and organising of

the area. Additionally, listed and locally protected buildings will also be renovated. The first-place finisher in this competition, launched in the summer of 2018, was the SNØHETTA architectural office. The Norwegian firm has designed, among other buildings, the central library in Calgary, the Norwegian National Opera House, as well as the cultural ˚ centre for the Swedish university town Umea. Their entry perfectly met the competition’s criteria: the neglected and thus under-visited Danube shore’s open spaces are to be connected to the dynamically developing Budapest.



Photo: © Gyukics Péter

Budapest, the city of bridges The bridges that span the Danube are a defining element of Budapest’s unique cityscape, which accompany the river’s gentle curve as it divides the city in two. The plans for the newest bridge to span the Danube in Budapest were produced as part of an international competition in late 2018. The competition was won by the design submitted by the Dutch architectural office led by Ben van Berkel. Their design is at once elegant, graceful, puritan and undoubtedly 21st century. One can also sense the historical appearance of the other bridges within it. This combination of many styles from many eras is more than appropriate, for that phenomenon also applies to modern Budapest.

The Margaret Bridge from a bicyclist’s perspective


THE JEWELS OF THE DANUBE For centuries a person could only travel from Pest to Buda via boat. Bridge building was one of the dreams of the 19th century that became a reality, and in nearly every case involved the city’s or even the country’s historical moments. A competition was launched in the present to design a new bridge across the Danube. First place for the New Danube Bridge was won by Ben van Berkel’s architectural office UNStudio in collaboration with British engineering firm BuroHappold, while second place was shared by two offices: Zaha Hadid Architects and Lavigne & Chéron Architectes. The construction of this new bridge aims not only to relieve congestion on bridges to the north or to shorten journeys, but also to create a bridge that will be a defining element of the cityscape. Text: Eszter Götz • Photos: Péter Gyukics

ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES If we survey Budapest’s bridges, we can see the attempts at national independence, the golden era of the turn of the 20th century, the reconstruction after the Second World War, the 40 years of communist rule when time slowed, and the renewal following the system change, all of which left their marks on the structures spanning the Danube. The strongest social message is promoted by the city’s first bridge. Today the Chain Bridge is one of Europe’s most beautiful bridges, and was the first iron bridge to span the Danube. This bridge played a unique role in the development of Hungarian civil society, for its advocate, Count István Széchenyi, is considered the founder of modern Hungary. Széchenyi was the person who after raising the idea of building a bridge in 1819 saw it come to fruition, although he did not see the finished bridge himself. During a trip to Great Britain in 1832, Széchenyi held negotiations with British engineers about building a bridge over the Danube, and he firmly believed that a work of such grand scope could be done through a stock company. This was nearly a revolutionary act for still feudal Hungary, as was Széchenyi’s principle that everyone crossing the bridge would need to pay a toll, which was the first strike against noble privileges that had not been challenged for centuries. Pest and Buda, which at the time were two independent cities, saw the importance of the bridge and transferred their ownership rights to Baron György Sina, the businessman of Greek background, who provided the funds to build it. Construction began in 1840 with Hungarian, English and Italian workmen. Barely two weeks after the outbreak of the 1848 Revolution, the first chain was pulled onto the structure. The revolution grew into a war of independence, and 20

Photo: © István Práczky


construction on the bridge temporarily stopped, so that in one of those ironic twists of fate the bridge was ceremonially dedicated on 20 November 1849 during the reprisals by none other than Austrian general Julius von Haynau, known as the Hyena of Brescia. The general toll fought for by Széchenyi secured the financial basis for transport on the bridge and its maintenance for 70 years. The bridge’s design proved to be the perfect choice for this bridge that spans a river that can see ice floes in winter. (An interesting historical fact is that the first Danube Regatta was held by the Hungarians, English and Italians working on the Chain Bridge.). In 1937 it was the first bridge in Budapest to receive decorative lighting. For its centennial, the upper structure was modernized, and 75 percent of the original chains were built back into the bridge.

MARGARET BRIDGE – A GRACEFUL APPEARANCE The next bridge to be built was the Margaret Bridge, which passes by the southern tip of Margaret Island where it features a bend. A law was passed in 1870 in regards to building bridges spanning the Danube to spur the capital’s development, and the following year a tender to design this bridge was launched, which was won by the French bridge engineer Ernest Gouin. This arch bridge with a length of 642 metres was built over four years under the direction of French and Hungarian engineers. The openings of its six arches vary in size, which provides it with an elegant and graceful appearance, as do the statues on the upper structure. Part of the costs of construction came from the tolls collected on the Chain Bridge. At first the bridge did not touch Margaret Island, for the side bridge linking the island was only completed in the summer of 1900. In the final years of World War II, the main span connecting Buda and Pest exploded twice. In November 1944, an accidental explosion destroyed the eastern span, taking with it hundreds of civilians. In 1945, the western span, along with the other bridges in Budapest, was bombed by the retreating German troops. The bridge was completely reconstructed in 2011, which restored the upper structure to its original appearance and reinforced the lower 21

Photo: © István Práczky

The Franz Joseph – today Liberty – Bridge was completed for the millennial celebrations

structure that had been widened in the 1930s. Transportation development gained an increasingly important role in the first decades of bourgeois Hungary. At the same time as the Margaret Bridge, Budapest’s first railway bridge (which today carries the highest traffic volume) was completed in the southern part of the city in 1876. The bridge connects two of Hungary’s large regions: Transdanubia and the Great Hungarian Plain. This bridge was also blown up by the Germans in 1944, causing great damage to the country.

YOGA CLASSES AND WEDDINGS ON THE BRIDGE The Liberty (Szabadság) Bridge spans the Danube from the foot of Gellért Hill to the Great Market Hall on Fôvám Square and was completed in 1896, at which time it bore the name of Emperor Franz Joseph. The bridge was constructed to handle the rapidly growing traffic in the city and was partially funded by the tolls collected on Margaret Bridge. In 1872 the city launched a tender for the construction of two bridges. The first-place design would be used on the original Elisabeth Bridge, while the second-place design, submitted by János Feketeházy, the only internationally recognised Hungarian bridge engineer, was used for the Franz Joseph Bridge. The pillars and bridgeheads stood by 22

December 1895, and on 4 October 1896 the bridge was ceremoniously opened in the presence of its namesake. It was at this time that the famous strike by a hammer occurred, which became part of the city’s lore. The final rivet, made of silver, was to be hammered into place by the emperor. But this rivet was not hammered into place directly by the emperor, for he simply pressed a button in a decorated tent at the Pest bridgehead, which activated a hammer at the Buda bridgehead that drove the final rivet into place. The silver rivet’s story is somewhat hazy after this, for someone removed the rivet engraved with “F.J.” during the 1956 Revolution, perhaps as a final memento of the capital. The rivet was replaced, this time not from silver, but the replacement itself disappeared as well. The unmarked second replacement was then inserted somewhere into the structure. When the bridge opened, it featured gas and electric lighting, and in 1898 a tram line opened beneath the turul birds and historical coat of arms at the top of the bridge. Renamed the Liberty Bridge, it once again shines in its original splendour. While the nearby tram lines were being reconstructed in the summer of 2016, the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic and city residents took possession of it, holding yoga classes, summer evening parties and even a wedding. This proved so popular, that it even became internationally famous as a unique form

BRIDGE S OF BUDAPE ST of community use of the city, which was well received at the Venice Biennale in 2018.

A MARVEL OF ENGINEERING – THE ELISABETH BRIDGE The design for the Downtown Bridge was also created for the tender in 1872, to be located at the ferry crossing point that had been used for centuries. The bridge would be named after Franz Joseph’s consort, the popular Empress Elisabeth. Construction of the bridge experienced delays and it was only opened in 1903. The original suspension bridge with a span of 380 metres was considered an engineering wonder in its era with its pendulum steel pillars and chain anchoring techniques. It had the longest span of a suspension bridge for 25 years, which underscores the abilities of the Hungarian engineers of the time. The bridge’s old beauty can only be seen in photos, however, for following its destruction on 18 January 1945, the bridge was only rebuilt nearly two decades later in 1964, but, unlike the other bridges, it did not regain its earlier form and was rebuilt as a modern suspension bridge capable of handling increased traffic loads.

NORTH AND SOUTH The Railway Connection Bridge linking Újpest and Óbuda in the north opened in 1896. Of its seven spans only one survived World War II intact. In addition to the railway tracks, today the bridge also has a sidewalk for pedestrians. Slightly south of it a small bridge 105 metres In 1964 a new suspension bridge was built on the site of the original Elisabeth Bridge

The original Elisabeth Bridge, which opened in 1903, was an engineering marvel for its time


from 1950-1958. Due to the shortage of materials following the war, the bridge was narrowed from its original plans, and it only received its originally planned width following reconstruction works that finished in 1984. The bridge connects to Margaret Island with a wide ramp, while at times when the river is low wooden planks can be seen at the Buda end which date to 2,000 years ago when the Romans had their military camp at Aquincum, and had a wooden bridge that connected to the “barbaricum” beyond its borders.


The Árpád Bridge

The Rákóczi Bridge


in length and built in the 1950s links Hajógyári Island to Óbuda. A railway track ran down the middle to serve the island’s factories. Today it is only used by pedestrians and serves as the entrance to the Sziget Festival held each summer. Following the turn of the 20th century, it was nearly 40 years before another bridge was built over the Danube in Budapest. In 1937, the bridge named after the regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy (today the Petôfi Bridge) opened to traffic. In 1945, like all the other bridges in the city, it was blown up. The bridgeheads are at Boráros Square in Pest and at the modern university complex in Lagymányos on the Buda side. With the river widening at this point, the bridge is 514 metres in length and was the first deck truss bridge over the Danube. A tram line already crossed it at its opening, and a steel structured slope ramp with five spans was built on the Pest side, which was replaced in 1980. Beneath the bridge’s especially slim body stood pillars of various height, and on its northern side a memorial to the AustroHungarian Navy, with a replica of the lighthouse in Fiume, stood until 1945. During the post-war reconstruction works the most important task was to repair Budapest’s bridges. Construction of the Árpád Bridge, which touches the northern tip of Margaret Island, commenced in 1939 but was only completed in 1950. The fact that it was only partially completed meant that it escaped the war without being blown up. With a length of 928 metres it was Central Europe’s longest bridge for half a century, and bore the name of Joseph Stalin

For another 40 years the existing bridges served Budapest, and then in 1995 construction of the Rákóczi Bridge commenced in a southern part of the city, which struck up intense debate among Budapesters who were more accustomed to spectacular bridges. This bridge, which extended the Hungária Ring Road towards Buda, was painted red and features T-shaped columns down its centre. It is also one of the city’s important transportation corridors, for it carries one of the city’s busiest tram lines across the river. Nonetheless, it was not met with adoration. The motorway bridge named after Ferenc Deák that connects Budatétény with Csepel opened in 1990 and is 700 metres long, and received a warmer welcome, perhaps because it is located outside the city and helps ease traffic as part of the M0 ring motorway. The city was also more receptive to its northernmost crossing, the Megyeri Bridge, which opened in 2008. From an engineering perspec-

Photo: Koi Zoltán


tive it is a similar marvel to the bridges built at the turn of the century. At 1,862 metres in length it is Hungary’s longest river bridge and is supported by 88 cables. At sunset and night, the bridge appears as an enormous sailboat owing to its wonderful lighting. This bridge also carries motorway traffic, and one section of the bridge crosses over Szentendre Island, although it does not have any exits there.

THE BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE The New Danube Bridge will soon belong to this illustrious company, which will take the 170-year history of Budapest’s bridges into the future. With its pylons leaning towards the shores, this slim suspension bridge with playful

lines will offer a unique spectacle as it reflects in the water below. According to its designers, the new bridge will not only be sustainable and offer a balanced transportation alternative between Újbuda and Csepel, but it will also be a natural gateway to the city. “The stayed girder structure of a span of 220 metres preserves an unobstructed view on various levels while moving outwards from the city or towards the bridge; thus a new urban icon will be created, which will emphasise the development of Southern Budapest”, the designers stated. Around this new structure there are also plans to build a new quarter with university and recreational functions, the planning of which is currently underway.

The Megyeri Bridge

The winning design for the new bridge, which was jointly submitted by the Dutch architect Ben van Berkel's office UNStudio and the British engineering firm BuroHappold


26 Photo: Š Nathalie Sternalski

Cultural Quarter Visitors to the Hungarian capital and locals alike will find illustrious, established and renewed festivals, open-air concerts, and active holiday programmes from the beginning of June to the end of August. They say that metropolises empty in the summertime so that only tourists walk their streets. That is not the case in Budapest, for we cannot mention a season when the city’s streets are not teeming with people pulling their luggage behind them. One explanation for this phenomenon is that the number of cultural events does not significantly drop once the season ends for indoor theatres and concert halls. Not only is the number of events exciting, but so is the quality, which is just as high as it is at other times of the year. World-famous celebrities take the stage and concerts by international and Hungarian musicians can also be heard. The refreshingly cool rooms found in museums also provide visitors not only with respite from the heat, but also with a means to travel into the past or future.

Barbarian Nights on Margaret Island The Algerian-French choreographer HervĂŠ Koubi draws on the cultural traditions of the Mediterranean region


“ROMANTIC HEROES, REAL MEN” A parade of stars on the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage Text: Rita Szentgyörgyi • Photos:

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage is one of Europe’s most beautiful outdoor performance venues, which in the summer of 2019 will once again await audiences with high-quality international and Hungarian productions. The programmes that will run from 1 June to 30 August are exceptionally diverse: classical and pop music concerts, large-scale opera and operetta premieres, as well as spectacular dance performances. An exceptional talent from international opera stages, the world-famous Vittorio Grigolo will make his Budapest debut as part of the summer season to enchant audiences with his rich repertoire consisting of the most popular arias. Considered among the world’s finest 10 tenors, he will arrive to Budapest following Tosca in London’s Royal Opera House. Grigolo, who was born in Arezzo, Italy, began singing at the age of 4. His uncle heard him sing Ave Maria with such passion that his talent was unquestionable. By the age of six Grigolo sang in the Sistine Chapel Choir, soon becoming a soloist. His stage debut was at 13 in the Opera House of Rome in the role of the young shepherd in Tosca alongside Luciano Pavarotti. Five years later he debuted as Narciso from Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia in Vienna’s Kammeroper. Grigolo became one of the youngest singers in La Scala’s history in Milan when in 2000 he sang in a gala performance as part of the Verdi year. His opera debut was as Romeo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, which was memorable for him since he was the first to perform Gounod’s hero in La Scala since Beniamino Gigli. Grigolo’s repertoire also includes The Barber of Seville, Così fan tutte, L'elisir d'amore, La traviata, Tosca and Rigoletto, and he performs mostly in works by Rossini, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini. The performance of La Traviata at Zürich’s Central Station in 2008 came from an idea by Alexander Pereira, the former intendant of the Zürich Opera House, which saw Grigolo performing Alfredo live on Swiss television. The Italian tenor’s international breakthrough came in 2010 with his performance of Rigoletto broadcast from the original locations in real time. The opera film directed by Marco Bellochio starring Plácido Domingo as Rigoletto saw Grigolo performing alongside him as the Duke of Mantua. This opera film, broadcast in more than 100 countries, brought the singer unimaginable popularity. 28

Vittorio Grigolo

CULTUR AL QUARTER After Europe’s largest opera houses, Grigolo considers his career’s crowning achievement an “accidental” debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. A critique in the New York Times was simply titled “Thank you Vittorio!” Grigolo has written himself into the Met’s history” For New Year’s Eve 2017 the Met planned a dream cast for Tosca, with Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais, but weeks before the premiere the star singers withdrew for various reasons. As Sonya Yoncheva’s partner, Grigolo’s Cavaradossi was met with massive acclaim by both critics and audiences. “I began my career with Tosca”, Grigolo told Opera News. “Can a young singer dream of a more beautiful start, than to be in the presence of Luciano Pavarotti, Raina Kabaivanska and Daniel Oren? A dream was fulfilled for that former boy, that he could sing Mario Cavaradossi. Additionally, Pavarotti debuted in this role at the Met in 1985, under Zeffirelli’s spectacular direction.”

Liu: Cristina Pasaroiu

Grigolo would like to follow in Pavarotti’s footsteps in terms of popularising opera, and in blending the classical genre with popular music in gala concerts and records. A significant entry in his discography is the West Side Story album, with the CD released for the 50th anniversary of Bernstein’s musical. In terms of his profession, he said “I stand alongside romantic heroes, the real mean, and my calling is to interpret their passions, weaknesses, virtues and mistakes… An attractive appearance does not take away from a singer’s vocal talents. Love and passion are difficult to make believable with an over-sized body.” Polina Pasztircsák as Nedda from Pagliacci

Puccini’s Turandot will feature Argentine legend José Cura and Cristina Pasaroiu, the excellent young soprano from Romania, together with Szilvia Rálik in the title role for the performance on the Open-Air Stage. The world-famous Marcelo Álvarez also launched his career in Argentina. He will perform the lead tenor roles in Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci together with the notable Hungarian singers Ildikó Komlósi and Polina Pasztircsák. 29

The National Georgian Ballet Sukhishvili

Nigel Kennedy


Nigel Kennedy is one of the world’s leading violinists and violists. This eccentric musician is currently touring Europe and will make a stop in Budapest with his “Bach meets Kennedy meets Gershwin” programme based on his record released in May 2018. The Scottish-born violinist Nicola Benedetti, who is of Italian origin, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major together with one of the world’s best orchestras, the San Francisco Symphony. The Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra will also once again perform an inspirational concert on Margaret Island. One of the finest Hungarian symphony orchestras, their programme will include Karl Goldmark’s Rustic Wedding Symphony and Mussorgsky’s best-known piano cycle, Pictures at an Exhibition. Olga Grishenkova, who performed as Daisy in last year’s highly successful ballet performance of The Great Gatsby will this year perform in the title



CULTUR AL QUARTER role of Giselle together with the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. Barbarian Nights, or the First Dawning Lights of the World is a dance tableau assembled by HervĂŠ Koubi, the French choreographer of Algerian origin. This performance will take the cultural roots of the Mediterranean region to the stage. The audience will be taken on an unforgettable journey by the dance performed by twelve Algerian and West African men, which blends street and city dance with elements from capoeira. Nicola Benedetti

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Pink Martini will make their Margaret Island debut

Enikô Lévai

The dance company of the innovative National Georgian Ballet Sukhishvili will give a performance blending traditional Georgian and various classical dances. This will be their first performance on the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage. Another group having their Margaret Island debut will be the famous Pink Martini orchestra, who perform in seemingly every genre. Founded by the American pianist Thomas Lauderdale, many of their songs have appeared in films, on television, at festivals and on concert stages. The premiere of Attila Vidnyánszky’s brand-new staging of Imre Kálmán’s world famous operetta, The Csárdás Princess (Csárdáskirálynô) promises to be a record-breaking success. The Žagar - Electric Rituals concert led by Balázs Zságer, a leading figure in the Hungarian electronic music scene, promises to be an immersive and psychedelic experience. The show will place great emphasis on visual presence and spectacular staging. Rounding out the season in August is the world-famous violinist Vilmos Oláh, who will be the guest of Budapest Bár. This band that zigzags between musical styles will await audiences with old favourites, new compositions and songs to close out the summer. 32


A new performer at the Budapest Wagner Days

A VIOLIN WITH A SOUL Text: Gerda Seres • Photos: Eszter Gordon

Vilmos Oláh, the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster will perform on a Stradivarius this June at the Budapest Wagner Days. The Emmy Award-winning violinist also previously played a Stradivarius on his first record. According to him, these violins are unique not only because of their silvery sparkling sound, but because they have souls.


The always popular Ring This year the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen will be performed twice during the Budapest Wagner Days. Over the festival’s 13-year history, all 10 operas that premiered at the Green Hill have been performed at Müpa Budapest. “We’re somewhat victims of our own success, which is actually a great thing”, said the conductor Ádám Fischer. In the early days the festival’s artistic director thought that they would renew the Wagner pieces from time to time, and that they would also play works by other composers at the festival. “When at first we came to the conclusion to let Der Ring rest a little, the audience felt so cheated, that we felt ‘let this be our greatest problem’, and consequently we decided that we would renew it, reimagine it from a director’s perspective, and perform it, if that’s what the audience wants.” Fischer is encouraged to continue by the ever-greater international recognition that the Wagner Days receive. “Earlier I believed that I would find a young conductor and train them so that they could take over most of my work as a successor. But things were far more successful than we imagined.” According to Fischer, the upcoming three years have already been planned, and as long as he can, he will continue in his current role. “From a musical perspective I have new ideas each year. I don’t believe that I would ever become bored with this. Life is too short to not be able to keep finding something new and beautiful in these operas. And if Bayreuth is capable of finding novelties or curiosities in them after 140 years, then why could we not as well?” Fischer considers it an important mission of the Wagner Days that in addition to international famous singers, young (including Hungarian) talents also receive opportunities. According to the plans the 2020 festival will also include Der Ring. This year Hartmut Schörghofer’s direction will take a refreshed form onto Müpa Budapest’s stage. In addition to the tetralogy, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will also be performed.

“A conductor is never successful on his own, but only together with his orchestra”, the conductor Ádám Fischer says of motivation. After receiving the Prima Primissima Prize last December, which comes with a significant financial award, the artistic director of the Budapest Wagner Days donated the funds to the Hungarian Radio Art Groups that have regularly participated in the festival since 2006. “One of the reasons why I received the prize was the Wagner Days, and I felt that I should share my joy and financial reward with the orchestra, which each year puts in a lot of work so that we can perform the operas at such a high level of quality. For a long time, I pondered how to spend it, until I came to the decision that an excellent Stradivarius violin for the orchestra’s concertmaster is an investment that will reap great returns. As I have experienced elsewhere, this can give wings to the entire orchestra.” According to Oláh, Fischer’s gift was very honourable. Although he also had many questions at first, Oláh never had doubts that he would perform with an Italian master craftsman’s instrument at this year’s Wagner Days, even though the sum was only sufficient to rent one. “Ádám Fischer’s initiative 34

stirred something inside me. The confidence of such a fantastic master provides me with the strength to believe: ‘why could I not have a Stradivarius, if only for a few weeks?’” The violinist also performed on a Stradivarius for his first record, and during his career in Southeast Asia and America he was able to perform on instruments by Italian master craftsmen. “Those recordings that define my violin career used instruments that were previously heard on masterpieces by exceptional artists such as Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern or Dénes Zsigmondy. I owe much to Zsigmondy, for I could hear his Stradivarius on countless occasions in my youth and I could even play it many times. But I can also hear the sound made by Péter Komlós’s Stradivarius in my ears.” Following months of searching, Vilmos Oláh finally came upon the instrument that he truly felt as his own. In his opinion, a person can only express themselves through a tool that is close to their personality. “I’ve tried a lot of instruments by renowned Italian master craftsmen. One sounded too raw, and another too sweet. Among the instruments by Guarneri, Stradivari, Amati and Guadagnini I found the bright toned Stradivarius the most to my liking because of it’s “humane” sound. For me the gentle vibrations and the silvery sparkle in its sound are important. It is a grand experience, that these instruments do no reach the audience with their volume, for an Italian masterwork is not fantastic because of how loud it is. It simply has a unique colour and vibration which goes straight into a person’s soul.” According to the violinist, selecting the right instrument is a complicated task. What is crucial is that the player be in harmony with their instrument and feel its “personality”. In his opinion, if someone has played one of these instruments, then there’s no difficulty in playing it. “What is widely said about Stradivariuses is that they require a special technique, for they cannot be played the same way as a modern instrument. You need to be something of a Renaissance man for a Stradivarius, and know the delicacies of touch. These instruments are exceptionally sensitive – I could say temperamental – and you have to learn how to treat them. If we are devoted to them, they will thank you with wonderful sounds and immediately capture your heart.” The selected instrument was lent to the musician by a Swiss Foundation for the duration of the Budapest Wagner Days. “On the basis of the agreement I can say only a little about the violin, but it is unique from many perspectives. Which is not surprising, since no matter which one comes into my possession, all old instruments have a history, or rather a music history.” “I am very fortunate to enjoy the trust of exceptional masters,” he adds. “Collaborating with Ádám Fischer or Tamás Vásáry always provides me with inspiration and helps me make my dreams even greater.” Vilmos Oláh has many plans: in addition to his concertmaster responsibilities, he also regularly performs as a soloist, and teaches in Hungary and abroad. Occasionally he goes on an “excursion” to the Budapest Summer Festival, and this summer on Margaret Island he will be the special guest of Budapest Bár, who play popular music ambitiously and whimsically.


Career overview Following numerous competition victories, Vilmos Oláh was invited to the United States in 1988, where he performed at the United Nations in New York and Harvard University in Boston. He went on a successful concert tour of Germany’s bigger cities in 1991. Oláh also studied with a scholarship at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Following this, he became the concertmaster and professional leader of the Hungarian Radio and Television Youth Orchestra. Following numerous successful performances across Europe, he recorded his first solo album in Finland. After this, Oláh went on a concert tour of France together with the Camerata Quartet, where among other works they performed Bartók’s String Quartet No. 6.

Since 2010 Oláh has led the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra as its first concertmaster. He also received the Liszt Prize in 2018. As the main subject in the documentary The Violin Alone, Oláh was nominated in eight categories at the Emmy Awards, of which he won six. Earlier in 2009, Oláh had performed a concert series in the United States. Following that tour, the composer Eric Funk wrote a solo violin competition piece for Oláh, and what makes it special is that the orchestral accompaniment is also simultaneously played by him. This documentary is an exploration of their collaborative work.


ASIAN TREASURES IN THE 100-YEAR-OLD MUSEUM Text: Györgyi Orbán • Pictures: Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts

The Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Hungary’s only museum to focus on eastern arts, will celebrate its 100th birthday with a comprehensive exhibit titled Made in Asia from the end of June.

Ferenc Hopp in the garden of his villa in the Andrássy avenue


Ferenc Hopp was a museum founder, world traveller, art collector and patron, who in the year of his death in 1919 willed his art collection to the Hungarian state. He stipulated that his collection, numbering over 4,000 objects, should be displayed in his villa on Andrássy Avenue, and earmarked a significant amount for the institution’s operation. Ever since the museum has operated with state support and fulfils the responsibility of expanding, researching and exhibiting its collection. Ferenc Hopp was born in 1833 to a German-speaking family in Fulnek, which is located in present-day Czech Republic. He arrived in the 1850s to Pest as

an apprentice to the optician István Calderoni, for the craftsman’s wife was also from Fulnek. Following his studies in Vienna and then America, Hopp returned in 1861. He formed a partnership with Calderoni, married his daughter, and then took over the company in 1864. Hopp manufactured optical instruments and cameras (the famous Asia researcher Aurel Stein bought his camera from Hopp) and introduced the production of visual aids for schools. Hopp became wealthy and loved to travel, but was less enthusiastic in regards to his marriage and divorced six months later. He travelled around the world five times, with China and Japan being his favourite destinations. According to the Sinologist Györgyi Fajcsák, who is the museum’s director, Hopp was enamoured with Japan, and was deeply touched by the precision and refinement typical of Japanese culture with respect to objects. His collection features unique items from Japan and also from China: ceramics, porcelains, lacquered objects, and ivory and jade carvings, the uniqueness and rarity of which made them so valuable. Ferenc Hopp purchased his eastern works of art during his around the world travels and at world exhibitions. As an optician, he had a good eye for recognising the beauty of the work in the materials. His perspective was formed by the exhibitions of the latter 19th century, and it was what he saw at them that informed him about which Asian objects were truly artistic and of great value. The Hopp villa was originally built by its owners as a summer residence in 1878 on the former Sugár Road. It has operated as a museum since 1923. At present the collection consists of 30,000 works of art that originated from China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea and the Middle East. The museum possesses the country’s only eastern arts library with over 35,000 volumes, as well as the only eastern arts database with over 20,000 entries, which guards not only the documentation for the exhibitions, but also valuable archive photos and documents related to orientalism, the history of eastern art collecting and travels to the East.

Photo: © Harasztos Áron

Ferenc Hopp was the first in the country to build an Asian garden at his home, which he called “buitenzorg”, a place to be free of worry. Buitenzorg is the Dutch name for the Indonesian city of Bogor, which is located in western Java, where in 1817 the Dutch founded the world’s oldest and largest botanical garden, and the magic of the place touched Hopp immensely, so that in addition to his art objects from Asia, he also wanted to bring nature’s beauty home with him, the museum director stated. The villa’s garden also features an Indian Brahma shrine and a Chinese Moon gate, in addition to which the garden is decorated with Japanese stone lamps, stone statues, shells collected from the Indian Ocean and a small pond. The garden will also feature a stage that will provide a venue for the events and musical programmes for the traditional Indian, Korean, Chinese and Japanese days that will be held this year as well. There will also be handicraft sessions, and a play tent that will allow visitors to learn Mah-jong or Japanese haiku composition. The garden and the villa’s fence will display archive photos of how the garden looked in the past along with posters featuring the exhibition’s special objects. Books will also be produced for the 100-year anniversary in Hungarian and English, one of which will introduce 250 objects, while another will discuss the building and its garden. The fourth volume in the museum’s book series “Asian Culture for the Young” will be about the museum’s founder, Ferenc Hopp. This informative survey series has so far produced books focusing on China, Japan and Korea, Fajcsák noted. Photo: © Gellért Áment

The outstanding piece of this jubilee exhibition is the museum’s newest acquisition and at once its “oldest”, a 6th century bronze Buddha statue from China that is in good condition with red lacquer fragments on its surface. Visitors can also see a unique 50-centimetre “bodiless” dry lacquered statue from China. The essence of this featherweight creation is that a shape formed from clay and papier-mâché is covered in 60-70 coats of lacquer, and after it dries the original shape is removed, therefore making it bodiless. Known as a Water-moon Guanyin, it features a Buddhist figure with a woman’s shape sitting on a rock, who watches the moon’s reflection on the water’s surface. The exhibit will feature special Japanese woodcuts, Tibetan temple scroll paintings, and textiles and rugs from the Indian Mogul collection. A typical characteristic of mid-17th century carpets is the dense knotting and vibrant colours. Three carpets will be displayed, two of which are a pair and are decorated with flowers. The woodcuts, scroll paintings, textiles and rugs will be rotated out four times during the exhibition’s year-long opening, for the materials are fragile and cannot be exhibited for longer periods, Fajcsák explained. Consequently, four exhibits will be held from the museum’s collection. Japanese and Chinese porcelains, lacquer objects, carved jade and a Nestorian (early Christian) cross found along the Silk Road will also be on display to amaze visitors. Visitors can also partake in guided tours, as individual cultures will be focused on at different times, with China, Japan, India and Mongolia being the main focus. Works from Asian countries will be screened as part of the film club that operates together with the Nyitott Mûhely workshop. The Ybl Creative House Buda, one of whose themes is Asian, will hold lectures on the life and work of the travellers and researchers who went to Asia, such as Sándor Kôrösi Csoma and Ervin Baktay.

Photo: © Gellért Áment


The Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts is located in Budapest’s District VI at Andrássy út 103. Entry is free with a Budapest Card


NIKOLA TESLA, THE FORGOTTEN GENIUS He returns to Budapest from the future Text: JĂłzsef GyĂźre

Located at Kazinczy utca 21, the Tesla Loft awaits guests with a multimedia exhibition that promises to be especially inspiring, which will run from the end of May to early September. Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in the Croatian territory of the Austrian Empire into a Serbian family. His unique career filled with inventions began in Budapest, for Tesla, following his studies at the universities of Graz and Prague, worked at the Ganz Factory in Budapest from 1880-1882.

A picture of Nikola Tesla with his signature from 1901


CULTUR AL QUARTER It was in Budapest that Tesla met Ferenc Puskás, the younger brother of Tivadar Puskás, who had invented the telephone exchange. Ferenc Puskás got Tesla work at the Hungarian telegraph service, which is where his first invention, the telephone amplifier, saw the light of day. “Budapest, this fantastic city rich with culture and history inspired this brilliant mind,” said Helena Bulaja Madunić, the curator and concept planner for the “Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future” exhibit in Budapest. Tesla also met the technician Antal Szigeti in Budapest, with whom he had a lifelong friendship. They were walking in the City Park in 1882 when Tesla, sitting on a bench, began to draw circles with his cane in the dust: this is when he discovered the principle of the rotating magnetic field, which 14 years later the Westinghouse company used at the world’s first alternating current power plant at Niagara Falls. The Niagara power plant made it possible for alternating current to be efficiently transmitted long distances, thereby changing the world. Tesla moved from Budapest in 1882 to Paris, where he found work at Continental Edison Co., after which in 1884 he set sail for the United States with only a few cents, a letter of recommendation, a few of his poems and plans for an airplane in his pocket. In the “new world” he patented his inventions one after another. He achieved rapid success in the development of electric motors, multi-phase generators and energy converters. Tesla overtook his peers in several areas, such as remote control, power transmission or robotics. For example, in 1896 he patented the radio receiver and published his outlines on the foundations of data transmission. An eccentric figure, he spoke Serbian, Croatian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Italian and Latin fluently. Tesla was plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias to the end of his life, living under the magic spell of the number 3. Accordingly, the Budapest exhibition is divided into three conceptual and practical spaces. In the “Foyer” visitors are greeted by a castiron statue of Tesla. In this same space one can also see Tesla’s six-metre long and one tonne in weight remote controlled boat model, which is “a kind of spatial-sculptural iron outline” of a model of a remote-controlled ship in the future.


In the “new dimension” named “Piano Nobile”, visitors can gain a glimpse into Tesla’s engineering achievements through an interactive display and can encounter those inventions that have inspired numerous pop art artists across the world. The heart of the exhibition will be the “Tesla Room”, in which the exhibition reveals Nicola Tesla’s “mind from the future”. This magical, 600 square metre space filled with multimedia displays and installations brings to life Tesla’s final conceptual patent, the Thought Projector. Continuing on in the exhibit hall, visitors will be accompanied by Tesla’s friends and contemporaries, who enliven the stages of this genius inventor’s personal life and desire for creativity. By purchasing a combined ticket, the Electrotechnical Museum’s permanent exhibition can also be visited in addition to the Tesla exhibition.


2019.5.31. - 9.1. teslamindf 39

40 Photo: Š Eszter Gordon

City Guide In 2019 Budapest was deemed not only to be the European Best Destination, but also received the title of European Capital of Sport. This distinction is not without merit, for the Hungarian capital will host numerous sporting events this summer. This year’s Budapest tourism ambassador, Ágnes Kovács, is also an athlete, who won gold at the Sydney Olympics and is also a two-time World and seven-time European champion swimmer. And in terms of recognition, Budapest’s sixth and seventh Michelin Stars were won by Tamás Széll and Szabina Szulló’s Stand Restaurant and by Babel Budapest. An earlier issue of Budapest’s Finest introduced Stand, while this issue highlights Babel and its young chef. Mystery Hotel Budapest only opened its doors a few weeks ago, and this beautiful building hides many historical secrets, some of which will be revealed in this issue.

With a new name and reimagined concept, the more than 100-year-old building reopened as a five-star hotel: The Mystery Hotel Budapest


A HOUSE OF SECRETS The Mystery Hotel Budapest opens its doors A palatial building stood derelict for years only a few streets over from the Nyugati Railway Station. Its façade featured two ornamented tympana, with the corner of the cornice closing the top floor featuring an owl-decorated globe, and below it a square and compasses, which is the famous symbol of the Freemasons. The Mystery Hotel, one of the city’s most original luxury hotels, opened its doors after a long time in spring 2019 in a building with quite a unique history. Text: Eszter Götz • Photos: Eszter Gordon The building exterior features the previous century’s eclectic design with fine ratios and elegant ornamentation that attracts the attention of passers-by, and above the glass door entrance it is only a chandelier recessed into an undecorated glass cube that signals that this is not another apartment building. But once we step inside, the balanced and dignified classicist atmosphere disappears, and we step into a space rich with decorative elements steeped in history and symbolism. Immediately behind the glass entrance a person’s attention is grabbed by the huge carved oak gate. With its original, chipped beauty it offe rs a much more enjoyable experience than if it had been completely restored. More than a century old, it stands almost like a living witness. The gate has much to say, having been in its place since the summer solstice of 1896, when the elegant building was dedicated as the headquarters of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary. The building was designed by Vilmos Ruppert, himself a Freemason. Elite artists enriched the interior spaces, among them the era’s greatest stained-glass artist, Miksa Róth, who offered stained glass windows to decorate the lodge, as did the renowned painter Mór Than, who painted the portrait gallery in the grandmaster’s hall. Unfortunately, only records attest to these works. The secret society that believed in liberty, equality and fraternity could not use the building for long. The building served as a military hospital during World War I and the Freemasons were banned in 1920. The building fell into the possession of the far-right Hungarian National Defence Association. Rather oddly, despite having an ideology close to fascism, they did not destroy the Freemason imagery depicted in the painting, frescos of the grand hall, or the symbols on the building’s façade. In 1946, the building, now in ruins, was returned to the Freemasons, who by 1949 restored the 42


building through private donations and working together, only to lose the lodge again a year later when the society was once again banned for half a century. But its history would take another dark turn, as in 1950 it was taken over by the infamous Hungarian secret police, later to host the Ministry of the Interior’s passport authorisation division. Following the system change, the reorganised Hungarian Freemason community attempted to reclaim the building to no avail: having split into two branches in the meantime, the faction leaders could not agree on issues surrounding ownership, thus the building remained without an owner. In the early 2000s it began to be transformed into a hotel, and was nearly completed, when the recession halted all progress. The half-completed hotel only opened ten years later in 2019 under new ownership, with a new name and reimagined concept. 43

Even if the oak gate could not tell all of the building’s history stretching back more than a century, the Mystery Hotel Budapest’s interior architect Zoltán Varró did everything in his capacity to bring the building’s secretive atmosphere and the episodes from the building’s past to life. In the area before the reception desk the black and white tiled floor characteristic of Freemason temples can be seen. A long Persian rug hangs above the reception desk, serving as a fairy-tale element and evoking the flying carpets of the One Thousand and One Nights. The glass doors belonging to the conference room that opens to one side are decorated by carved rose motifs, and the foyer is divided by Greek columns that suggest the ideas from which the movement drew its symbolism.


CIT Y GUIDE At the same time guests today do not feel themselves as strangers, for they have not entered into an unknown and frightening world, but are among the defining symbols of European humanism. In fact, the city’s character was preserved through the rectangular courtyard topped with a glass roof that features suspended corridors such as in Budapest’s apartment buildings. A unique solution is that the spa section is not in the basement, but in the ground floor of the courtyard, giving the arcaded corridors a splendid view of the resting places with their eastern pomp and glass-enclosed jacuzzi. The most opulent space is the restaurant which was created in the former Freemason temple hall. This hall is two floors in height and its arched

The lodge's grand hall after the communist-era Ministry of the Interior vacated the building

The frescoes after the renovation


ceiling is painted with red and blue decorations, with the eastern elements continuing on the side walls as well. The centre of the restaurant also features tiled flooring, but the former grandmaster’s platform no longer stands there. Above its location an airy wroughtiron gallery goes around the room in its entire length. The corridors and the guest rooms are less true to the building’s history, but the Ionian, Doric or Corinthian columns in each room hearken back to the order’s traditions. Quality furnishings accompany the luxury property, be they Biedermeier wooden wall recesses, the freestanding baths in the studios, or the decorative metal wall fountains found in some of the bathrooms. The rooftop terrace’s spectacular sky bar also awaits it opening, which will provide a beautiful panorama of Budapest’s downtown. The conference centre established in the basement level has a foyer that can also host smaller receptions, and the building’s original, brick-walled basement with an arched ceiling was used to fashion atmospheric rooms, with one featuring wine cellar hall for the guests. The lodge once against stands in its complete beauty. While no longer belonging to the Freemasons, their symbols are preserved in its façade and the hotel’s interior spaces proclaim the power of humanism, evoke the inner values of man, promote self-education and assistance for those in need, as well as how the “inner temple” is what builds the spirit.



RECIPES FROM TIMES PAST The Liszt Restaurant has opened in the Aria Hotel

“We would like our guests to become familiar with a form of Hungarian cuisine, of which only a part can be tied to the gastronomy of the previous 70 years. For inspiration, we looked to the recipes from the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” revealed Gergely Kövér, the chef for the Liszt Restaurant, which opened in Herceprímás Street. Kövér researches recipes with the help of a cookbook from that era together with a young English historian who is an expert of the Dual Monarchy. In the era before river regulation, herrings could be fished from the Danube, and it is this era that is hearkened back to by the herring fillet served with purple potato salad, marinated red onion, mustard seed and wine from a Hungarian grape variety. The dishes prepared by chef Gergely Kövér and the desserts made by pastry chef Zsuzsanna Karádi are complemented by the drinks created by bar managers Péter Gózon and Richárd Mihály in the Aria Hotel’s new street front restaurant. According to a Hungarian saying, “the leaven you use determines the bread”. Gergely Kövér and his team made yeast from grapeseed and grape skin, and selected a special blend of flour from the Júlia Mill in Pásztó, which is how they developed the restaurant’s own bread recipe. Each day fresh bread, homemade salted butter and water that is purified and filtered in-house awaits guests. Liszt’s chef has not only worked for a decade at notable international restaurants from Ireland to Spain, but also in the Netherlands at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Hotel Savelberg, in Catalonia at the 5-star Relais & Chateaux and Hotel Mas de Torrent, and last but not least at the 2 Michelin-starred Whatley Manor in England. The meals, which can be ordered from noon to 11 pm, have been named in line with the hotel’s music concept, and the ingredients for the starters (Prelude), soups (Symphony), and main courses (Concerto) are primarily sourced from Hungary and complemented with ingredients from Transylvania, Slovakia, Subcarpathia and Dalmatia. The menu also includes a farm egg poached in its shell, a lamb roast served with goat’s milk cream and mixed grains, and the essence of strength, the “tápla” soup made from four kinds of meat. “It’s worth dunking! I would be happy to see customers soak up the plate with some bread,” Köver reveals, who together with his team will prepare the meals in the recently developed open kitchen. The king of the seasonal dishes is the steak served with ham, caramelised onion cream, polenta, a red wine sauce and homemade cornbread. Vegans in turn can try a butternut squash stew. One of the more exciting desserts (Encore) was dreamed up by pastry chef Zsuzsanna Karádi, which is a jam bread served with acacia flowers and breadcrumb ice cream. From noon to 6 pm (Sonata) popular dishes can also be ordered, such as a craft burger or Caesar salad. One of the Liszt’s street-facing turquoise velvet and crystal rooms was visited before the restaurant’s opening by world famous stars, such as Lenny Kravitz, Sting and Plácido Domingo. Their signatures are preserved by the wall-mounted mirrors.  (X) 47

A RETRO GARDEN OF EDEN The Csillaghegyi Árpád Baths and Swimming Pool Text: Eszter Götz • Photos: Eszter Gordon

Budapest has truly been a city of baths since the 1930s with its baths built over medicinal springs, its pools built in urban and suburban areas, and with its quality athletic pools. But even this city blessed with an abundance of therapeutic and relaxing waters has few places as idyllic as the baths and swimming pool at Csillaghegy.


CIT Y GUIDE The spring that produces 800 litres of water per minute at 22°C rich with calcium, silicic acid and magnesium has been used since ancient times, for the Romans directed this water to supply their military and residential settlements in Óbuda. In the mid-19th century locals would bath in the pools developed here, but the site only truly took off after 1920, when two entrepreneurs from

In 1951 the swimming pools were nationalised and constantly expanded over the new few decades, adding a motel and smaller wooden houses on the site. Up to 4,000 guests could use its facilities during its golden era in the 1970s, as regulars, locals and East German tourists arrived, counting many elite athletes and actors among them. At the same time, it became an increasingly important lo-

downtown, a furrier and a fur-trader, purchased a large tract of land near the springs, and developed the Árpád Swimming Pools. Multiple families from among its well-to-do guests erected villas on the undisturbed, sunny slopes of the pools, and a wave pool also soon opened. The property, which quickly grew to five hectares, contained pines, yews, and suntanning meadows that climbed the hillside in steps, with goldfish ponds, Japanese stone lanterns, fountains, a tennis court, and winding walking paths, which for the city residents was Eden itself. The pool’s name was inspired by the legend according to which Grand Prince Árpád, who led the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin, was buried nearby.

cation for competitive swimming, as more than one Hungarian Olympian launched their careers here. Following the system change, as many other swimming complexes transformed into theme parks, the Csillaghegy complex with its relatively cool water saw the number of guests dwindle, so that by the early 2010s it was operating at such a loss that there were plans to shutter it. Civilian initiatives and the municipal government saved the complex and 2018 saw a turnaround in its fortunes. The complex also regained its old name, becoming the Árpád Baths and Swimming Pool once again. And although the grand prince’s burial site was not discovered, when reconstruction works commenced in 2016, a magnificent Roman 49

quadriga decorated with bronze figures was unearthed in a Roman grave on the site. The gorgeous park now has a large adventure bath complex across nearly 8,000 square meters, with a total of 12 new pools. Only the swimming pool is visible from the street, which is simple, modern and has a row of split windows with a slightly slanted roof. The park outside can be viewed through the windows from the 33-meter long pool, and the mezzanine corridor is supported by the kind of tile-covered columns as those that support the elevated row of cabins outside. The renovations preserved the complex’s friendly and retro atmosphere, and a new interior concept was not forced upon it. At the swimming pool level we can truly find ourselves in the 1960s, but within a vast and comfortable space, which in turn features modern technology, for the pools’ water is warmed with solar thermal collectors. A new world opens from the mezzanine level, however. In the six-story building wings that rests against the hillside a new experience awaits guests on each level. Small ceramic squares cover the surfaces of the colourful wellness section, with spectacular drinking fountains and atmospheric spaces made even more so with unique lighting effects. The sauna section that occupies an entire floor features a Finnish sauna with panorama windows, a salt bath, aroma, infra and steam cabins, an even hotter “devil’s sauna”, and a separate level awaits children with water-spouting octopuses, a baby bath and a dry playing corner, a lazy river, and a slide park that stretches into the outdoor park. The topmost level features a suntanning terrace



and an open-air jacuzzi with water at a temperature of 35°C that is open even in winter. The baths at Csillaghegy have been reborn while preserving their charms. Its planners quickly appraised that the location’s greatest value is its park surrounded with enormous trees. The larger interior spaces were connected with the outside through large windows, so that those inside can feel as if they are among the trees. Throughout the year the baths bring in the profits that were missing for decades, and in the summer the complex awaits seasonal visitors with its greenery, clean air and abundant mineral waters, which supply not only the pools, but also the showers, drinking fountains, and rejuvenation of both mind and body.


"WE WANTED TO MAKE THE BEST MEAT RESTAURANT IN THE CITY" Beefbar and Leo in the Hotel Clark Budapest

A year ago, one of Budapest’s newest hotels opened its doors, on a corner at Clark Ádám Square between the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle. The building could not stand at a more beautiful location, so that every tourist visiting it wants to absorb the fantastic view that it provides of the city. Text: Szonja Somogyi • Photos: Eszter Gordon

Hubert Hlatky-Schlichter, the culinary entrepreneur who also owns other restaurants across the city, did not wish to create a tourist magnet. “I try to use a city planner’s approach when I imagine my restaurants, since what is good for people is also good for the building and for the city. I did not wish for those who walk by to simply ‘drop in’. Additionally, I also wanted Hungarian diners to come here as well. This is why we selected an international brand. I believe that restaurants where only tourists go are not good. Beefbar has celebrated its first year, and over this time a community of Hungarian regulars has developed, as locals love to come here,” he revealed to Budapest’s Finest. Beefbar is a brand with restaurants around the world, which was founded by Riccardo Giraudi, the son of Erminio Giraudi, 52

who founded the world-famous Monacan beef importing company. Their meat restaurants located in luxury hotels and resorts represent the highest quality in Paris, Rome or Saint -Tropez. Additionally, their restaurant in Hong Kong received a Michelin Star a year after opening. The concept is grounded in using the highest quality beef sourced from beyond Europe. Everything takes place in a monitored framework, there are no genetically modified animals, and the strictest standards must be met in terms of feeding, water quality and the general conditions of animal husbandry. From this the highest quality cuts of Japanese, American and Australian wagyu, kobe and black angus make their way to the tables at Beefbar. “Everything is based on premium ingredients, which is why

CIT Y GUIDE we offer simply cooked meats and street food, made unpretentious so that it is for everyday consumption. Beefbar Budapest was not intended to be a steakhouse. We offer kobe miniburgers, gyoza, tacos, and we also have fish sandwiches. The entire restaurant has an international atmosphere, provides a cool ambiance, and is simply sexy,” Hlatky-Schlichter explained. “Alongside the meats we offer a little jus, and such amazing purees that a person would love to lie down in them”, HlatkySchlichter said, adding that this commitment to purees is the result of Beefbar brand executive chef Thierry Paludetto, who worked alongside Joël Robuchon, the man named “Chef of the Century” by Gault Millau and who earned the most Michelin Stars of any chef. The restaurant has breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and those arriving late in the evening can order from the night menu until midnight. The appearance of Beefbar Budapest’s interior is extravagant but absent of unnecessary embellishments, and is the work of the interior designer Emil Humbert, while the other areas of the Hotel Clark are the works of Ákos Bara, but their creations

“The development of the rooftop was an excellent decision on the part of the owners. It provides much value to the city, and it’s difficult to believe that people from all over the world pay a visit. Many guests book rooms in the hotel so that they can then come up to the Leo. It’s become properly symbiotic”, Hlatky-Schlichter adds. Leo is Beefbar’s sister, in part due to the shared kitchen and because it was selected among the city’s top three new bars owing to its excellent qualities, but aside from this it is an entirely separate unit with an independent concept. As a result of the outdoor bar and kitchen, at times last year the location suffered from the weather’s unpredictability, but this spring and summer the place is prepared with roofs. The current ceiling will be replaced with a glass one in October, and the rooftop bar will then remain open throughout the year. Due to the work by the architects, the location is world-class and modern, and because of the playfulness of the materials it retains a natural atmosphere. Now expanded, the guest area can seat more than 100.

combine into an organic whole with the given design elements and the materials used. The overriding character is provided by the walnut tree, brass and marble. Beefbar’s enormous preparation kitchen serves not only the restaurant, but also the rooms in the Hotel Clark, while also functioning as the preparation kitchen for the Leo rooftop bar.

The light dishes on offer begin in Beefbar’s kitchen but are finished in Leo’s. Among the options are iconic dishes from the restaurants led by Hubert Hlatky-Schlichter that are found across Budapest, such as Beefbar’s miniburgers, or Kiosk’s chocolate cake. As he revealed, he has an emotional connection to these. Although it is awe-inspiring, the view was not the starting point of the design. “There are places where as a result of the view they feel justified in serving forgettable food and drinks of an average quality at exorbitant prices. I would not lend my name to something like that. We wanted to create an open, relaxed, honourable and lovable place, and we did,” Hlatky-Schlichter emphasised.

LEO, YOUR HIGHNESS If the outstanding culinary experience offered at the hotel’s lower level should not prove sufficient, Leo located on the rooftop can further enhance your fun. Leo provides a unique view with its perfect location: from the Rákóczi Bridge in the south to the Megyeri Bridge in the north nearly all of Budapest’s sights can be seen with the simple turning of your head.


NATURAL PURITY AND PERFECTIONISM Babel Budapest earned a Michelin Star Text: Somogyi Szonja • Photos: Babel Budapest

Capturing nature’s secrets through flavours, quiet observation and introducing the culinary arts through a sincere passion for cooking all combine in Hungary’s most recently Michelin-Starred restaurant, Babel Budapest.


CIT Y GUIDE Chef István Veres, who hails from Transylvania, is inspired by his childhood memories when he creates his dishes, but he acquired his professional knowledge from the most famous and prestigious schools and elite restaurants. As he told Budapest’s Finest, Veres feels that he can thank his determination and purposefulness for his success. “I accomplish the goals I set out for myself. There are two types of people: one type has dreams and the other actively pursues them. I’m a maximalist, I strive for perfection, but I do not believe in achieving it, but in development. In my opinion that is what the Michelin Star is about as well, finding harmony between perfection and the details”. The meals are not simply courses, but rather visions, the creations of István’s mind. Perhaps this is why they exclusively offer five and ten course tasting menus, and a seven-course vegan menu. “This is like a puzzle. If I remove a piece and change it, it is no longer complete. That is, by the end of the dinner, the picture must be completed. Guests will also come to know me better through the menu, because each course is unique. I’ve composed a small twist into each one.” The young chef, as he tells it, is the visual type and thinks in reverse, just as most culinary artists: he begins with an image of the food, and the unfolding of the flavours only comes after. “I draw inspiration from nature. I see an image before me of a knot of grass, a flower, and I begin to separate it into flavours, which is how I make a dish. I put a lot of stock into the opinions of my two truly aspiring sous-chefs, Ádám Mersitz and Benjamin Morris, but nonetheless I am my own greatest critic, and I have to be satisfied with myself,” Veres stated.

ents are sourced from Hungary, Transylvania and the lands of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. István revealed that he was able to find a reliable and excellent supplier that in addition to consistent quality can also quickly fulfil special orders. For example, the Csoroszlya Farm in Transdanubia supplies 95 percent of the vegetables. Although he is a chef, Veres does not limit himself to the kitchen and directs and oversees the restaurant’s operations. The location’s interior design and atmosphere were determined by the owner Hubert Hlatky-Schlichter, who is just as much a devotee of gastronomy, and seeks to introduce the meeting of nature and civilisation in this down-

István Veres

Introducing Transylvanian flavours does not happen in a traditional way at all, for they instead appear as a sort of artistic composition. The dishes have a mood, from the forest filled with chirping birds to the blades of glass crackling with the morning frost that take guests’ imaginations to a broad meadow. Tiny elements tempt the senses: the butter is served in small weaved baskets on hay together with small wooden spoons. As the chef describes one of his creations: “Our sorbets have truly become one of our signature dishes. We freeze greens with liquid nitrogen, and these – before the sorbet is placed alongside it – are ground in a mortar by the guest at the table. Then there is a sound like when you walk among the fallen leaves in the woods and they crackle beneath your feet”. Roughly every six months one of the courses is changed, but in place of a complete change “refinement” is key, which is primarily determined by the season and the ingredients. The ingredi55

town restaurant. For this the works of excellent Hungarian fine artists and traditional elements and patterns from Hungarian culture were consciously used to bring to life this atmosphere that is unmistakeably unique. The letter B hanging above the entrance was created by the world-famous Samuel Havadtory using lace print techniques, while the lace-printed plates custom designed by Júlia Néma pair with this. The crystal glasses in turn are made by one of the most prestigious Hungarian glass manufacturers, Ajka Crystal. Seemingly everything in the interior was custom-made, or there is a personal story behind it, which the servers frequently share with guests. “Through the complementary objects I wanted to show that Hungarian identity is not only a chequered tablecloth and similar clichés, but that we can make something new and beautiful with it. Additionally, I’ve heard from many that Babel is one of the few restaurants in Budapest, where if you go it is as if you were abroad. From the textiles and dinnerware to the food everything is meticulously served, and our hearts and souls are in them. The most important of course is the work of István’s hand, and working with him is how I learned what the culinary arts are,” the owner revealed. According to Hlatky-Schlichter, the sommelier Péter Blazsovszky also played a significant role in earning a Michelin Star. Uniquely in Hungary, they pair only Hungarian white wines with the meals. The wine list, which features more than 200 types, features limited vintages from small cellars that can only be consumed at Babel. István Veres has desired a Michelin Star Since the age of 14, but as he said, even months after he received news of this acknowledgement, he has not completely processed it. Since first opening, the restaurant has had to relocate and has seen multiple chefs and teams. Veres thinks that although Babel had been predicted to win a Michelin Star for years, it only won one now because the Michelin inspectors could sense the stability and guaranteed quality that he brought. What also contributed to this success, according to the owner, is that by no longer striving to win a star, they could completely focus on serving their customers instead of achieving recognition. As Veres added: “They say it’s more difficult to keep a Michelin Star than to win one. I think in Hungary it’s quite difficult to earn one. As far as I’m concerned, the direction we took is the right one, and we will continue on this path.”


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The European Capital of Sport awaits stars, future legends and thousands of sport enthusiasts Text: Adrián Szász

“Sport is not only physical education, but it is also one of the most powerful educational tools for the soul,” said Albert Szent-Györgyi, the Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian biochemist who first isolated vitamin C. This thought is especially relevant, for in 2019 the world can discover Budapest as the European Capital of Sport. Hungary’s capital attracts more than four million visitors annually, and this year even more can depart with sporting experiences, or a recharged soul. In addition to the annual Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix in the summer, Budapest will also host exciting days for fans of fencing, aquatic sports and international multi-sport events this July and August. Let’s take a look at what the biggest events will be!


Áron Szilágyi

During competition days 8-10,000 spectators will fill the stands. Hungarians have always done well in fencing, thus we can expect the locals in the stands to provide a great atmosphere with their cheering. Approximately 50,000 spectators in total are expected from all corners of the Earth, who will be entertained during the intermissions with visually stunning and vibrant programmes. Fans who arrived for last year’s World Wrestling Championships – including the majority of competitors – emphasised that the shows put on between matches really made the tournament in Hungary much more enjoyable. These shows will use state-of-the-art technology, featuring an inte-

Photo: © Daryl Homer

In mid-summer 2,000 fencers from 130 nations will arrive to Hungary for the International Fencing Federation’s 2019 World Championships, which from 15 July will see individual fencers and teams compete in three disciplines across nine days. This is the fifth occasion after 1959, 1975, 1991 and 2013 that Budapest will host the fencing world championships. The competition featuring the slogan “A Kind of Magic” will be a qualification tournament, which means that the athletes who medal in the BOK Sports Hall will qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Zsolt Csampa, President of the Hungarian Fencing Federation, illustrated how high the stakes are when he said “The road to Tokyo leads through Budapest”. Csampa is happy that the athletes and fans of this storied sport will visit “one of the world’s most beautiful and safest capitals.”


Sport for tourists How can Budapest – as the capital of sport – provide more this summer than other destinations? Budapest, in my opinion, has received the title of European Capital of Sport deservedly, since it has hosted prestigious events one after another over the previous years. And our attention is not focused solely on elite athletes. It is a special joy to see how sport’s message reaches local residents: the number of hobby athletes and events held for them are also increasing. This makes the city even more attractive for sporty tourists. Does the European Capital of Sport title also call out to them? It calls out to everyone. Professional athletes, hobby athletes, civilians and fans, be they local or international. The more people know, the better: sport provides mind-body balance, which is why sport is good! It recharges people and is part of a healthy lifestyle. And cheering from the stands is an experience. Do you feel as if the world’s attention is now focused a little on Budapest? Of course, although in terms of organising sporting events we’ve been near the top for years. If I speak with foreigners, they nearly always mention the 2017 Aquatic World Championships. Sport enthusiasts, competitors and leaders all say that the organisation and infrastructure was exceptionally good. I just recently heard from a non-Hungarian sport leader that we’ve pulled even with Prague and Vienna on the list that suggests which cities absolutely must be visited in the region. If Budapest continues to develop this dynamically, and its name becomes intertwined with sport, even more will know what a beautiful place we live in. What do you expect from the top summer events? The next generation of Hungarians is strong in swimming, and from the home audience we expect lots of encouragement. The Duna Arena has already proven itself. We are traditionally successful in fencing, which is why the Fencing World Championships will receive such interest. The European Maccabi Games are special because of their cultural aspects and variety, since the various sports bring about different forms of momentum.

Photo: © Schumy Csaba /

KOVÁCS ÁGNES, the 2019 Cultural and Tourism Ambassador of Budapest

What would it take after the events for you to say you are happy and pleased? First off, if we can receive many fans from around the world, then we can see a wonderful Hungarian success story. Second, if Budapest residents would preserve these sporting and active lifestyle values in their everyday lives. And not only in 2019, but in the years and decades to come.

grated light and sound system, with LED screens and an LED floor covering more than 700 square metres. Tickets for the event can be purchased through

AQUATIC TALENTS ON THE NATIONAL HOLIDAY According to Julio Maglione, the president of FINA, in the summer of 2017 Hungary’s capital organised “the greatest world aquatics championships of all time”, an achievement made all the more impressive since Hungary jumped in to replace Guadalajara, Mexico, which withdrew owing to financial concerns. The Duna Arena built on the Danube’s shore received widespread praise, and the facility will once again host an important international event, the FINA World 58

Junior Swimming Championships, from 2025 August. For this occasion, a thousand young talents will arrive to Hungary, to compare their capabilities alongside future Hungarian hopes, which will guarantee a heightened atmosphere in one of Europe’s most modern swimming complexes. In only the previous three decades Hungary has produced multiple gold medal winning Olympic swimming champions, such as Krisztina Egerszergi, Katinka Hosszú and Tamás Darnyi. Young talents regularly pop up in this sport, which is probably what Sándor Wladár, the President of the Hungarian Swimming Association referred to when he said swimming was “the golden reserves of Hungarian sport.” Many would agree with him that future stars will be among those jumping into the pool this August. Additionally, because the

Photo: © MTVA / Lakatos Péter


event coincides with 20 August, the celebration of the founding of the Hungarian state, visitors in Budapest will get to see fireworks and the city in full revelry. Tickets for the swimming events can be purchased through

MULTI AND AUTO SPORTS ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER Between the adult fencing and junior swimming world championships, a third grand-scale event that is at once religious, cultural and sporting will shine the spotlight onto Europe’s Capital of Sport. Between 29 July and 7 August Budapest will host the European Maccabi Games that are held every four years for Jewish athletes. In terms of participants, this event will outnumber the other two, as 3,000 athletes will compete in 20 sports. This is the fifteenth occasion since 1929 that Europe’s largest Jewish community event brings together Jewish athletes, who will compete at multiple facilities, including the Duna Arena, the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Complex on Margaret Island and at the facilities at Ludovika Campus. One of the guests of honour for the event will be Ágnes Keleti (née Klein), who is the world’s oldest living Olympic champion and most successful Hungarian female Olympian. The former gym-

nast, born in 1921, competed at the 1952 Helsinki Games and the 1956 Melbourne Games, winning five gold, three silver and two bronze medals despite the difficulties in her life. During World War II she was in hiding instead of competing, and her father perished in Auschwitz. After the Melbourne Olympics Keleti also lived in Israel for a long time. Those wishing to cheer the athletes on alongside her at the games are advised to visit for more information. “And we should not overlook the Hungaroring located 20 kilometres from Budapest, where every summer since 1986 the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix has been held, a visit to which can coincide with the European Maccabi Games,” said Ágnes Kovács, the 2019 Cultural and Tourism Ambassador of Budapest. An Olympic champion in Sydney, the two-time world and seven-time European champion Hungarian swimmer looks forward to this racing event each year. This year Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel and the rest will take possession of the Hungaroring from 2-4 August. According to our ambassador, competing and cheering are both fun, and in Budapest in 2019 both can be done. And these two women named Ágnes – Keleti and Kovács – are certain to be right about sport.

Max Verstappen is hopeful for victory at the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix on 4 August. He showed off his driving skills on 1 May at the now traditional Great Run in Budapest


Where everything revolves around folk arts:


From 17-20 August the Buda Royal Palace’s courtyard will be taken over by a festival that evokes the atmosphere of markets from the past to entertain both international and local audiences. Our guest of honour this year will be Japan, and the special theme will be footwear. Photos:

A thousand handicraft masters, hundreds of performers, all-day programmes on the stage, refined culinary wonders and folk playhouses will all await visitors. Anyone can discover the secrets of traditional crafts in the workshops belonging to more than 800 Hungarian and 150 international craftspeople. Those looking to relax can feel as if they have found themselves in a medieval whirlwind. The special theme of the 33rd Festival of Folk Arts is footwear, with a special emphasis on ornamented slippers from Szeged. We will discover how the footwear of old is interpreted by contemporary Hungarian shoe designers. 60

We will also meet the craftsman who has won the title of world’s best shoemaker, whose family has produced the highest quality footwear for generations. Their workshop produces lasting shoes that perfectly mould to a person’s foot. For this they usually use calf skin, but for more unique pieces they may use crocodile, salmon, shark, ray, ostrich or eel skin. Shoemakers will also arrive from Morocco and Iceland, and visitors can see the footwear from the Harry Potter films in the workshop of the craftsman from Turkey. Japan will be the guest of honour for this year’s Festival of Folks Arts. Japanese craftspeople will introduce kimonos, fans, ceramics, furoshiki

Photo: © Práczky István


wrapping, kokeshi dolls, and many other exciting things, such as learning how to write with Japanese paintbrushes, origami, or bouquet arrangement. Guests can also taste Japanese food and drink, and in addition to this an emblematic instrument from Japanese culture, the taiko drum will also be on display. This will also be the first time that the folk pub will open, and criers, stilt-walkers and showmen will all add to the festival’s atmosphere. An ex-

hibition will introduce the communities on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: the Matyó and the Mohácsi busós, along with the blue-dyeing workshops that made the list in 2018. Over the course of four days excellent musicians will perform on the stage, among them Félix Lajkó, Szalonna and his Band, the Kerekes Band, Chris Potter, and the Dresch Quartet.




2-6 July 2019


The Bards of Wales at Müpa Budapest Karl Jenkins and the MÁV Symphony Orchestra 28 June 2019, 7:30 pm


The Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins was commissioned to compose music for the ballad “The Bards of Wales” written by János Arany, one of the towering figures of 19th century Hungarian literature. This monumental cantata was performed at Müpa Budapest and in its historical setting, Montgomery, in 2011. The work is in reality an allegory about the reprisals following the 1848-1849 Revolution and Failed War of Independence. In 2019 the orchestra has invited the composer for a festive concert to celebrate his 75th birthday. The evening will feature a portion of “The Bards of Wales” along with Jenkins’s most famous works. According to the British classical music magazine Classic FM, Jenkins is the world’s most performed contemporary composer.

Budapest – Vienna

On the festival’s opening day, 2 July, audiences at Müpa Budapest’s Festival Theatre will get to see Kasper Holten’s staging of Brothers by the Icelandic Opera. The internationally renowned Holten is the originator of his own unique “northern style” opera aesthetic, making this performance an unmissable one for opera fans in search of rarities. The next day, 3 July will see the premiere of the contemporary work

The Diary of One Who Disappeared directed by Ivo van Hove, also in the Festival Theatre. On 5 July the world premiere of the opera Away, No Matter Where by Csaba Horváth and Marcell Dargay will take place in the MuTh Threatre in Vienna. The closing performance for this year’s festival will be held at Müpa Budapest on 6 July, and will be Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Róbert Alföldi.


Summertime in Szentendre Mihály Borbély Quartet concert 6 July 2019, 8 pm The courtyard of the Dunaparti Cultural Centre  (in case of rain: the Barlang Club) The Mihály Borbély Quartet jazz club has operated in the most-French of Hungarian towns, Szentendre, for 16 years and this year’s summer concert series will kick off with a special concert by its house band.

Among guests will be outstanding Hungarian jazz artists such as Mihály Dresch, whose collaboration promises to be mutually inspiring, for together with his woodwind colleague and two members of the rhythm section, they have played together for years as the Borbély-Dresch Quartet. In other words, the five musicians performing this evening also perform as two separate quartets. (Mihály Borbély – saxophone, tárogató, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes, Áron Tálas – piano, Balázs Horváth – bass, Hunor Szabó – drums, guest: Mihály Dresch – saxophone, fuhun)




Summer film camps

Korda Filmpark – Etyek

Built near Budapest on a former military base, the Korda Filmpark features six film studios and filming experiences in its visitor complex, and contains one of the world’s largest soundstages which is 6,000 square metres in size. The film park also awaits guests who can walk on its sets which resemble a street from New York City or a medieval village. For youths spending their summer in Hungary, they offer a fantastic opportunity under the name “Time Travel” over a five-day period (starting on 24 June, 1 and 8 July, and 5 and 12 August). Participants in these summer camps can film together, get to know the technical secrets of film production, try their hand at screenwriting, and can make their own short film by the end of the week. (For details, visit

Get Moving this Autumn 16-18 October 2019

Budapest Congress Center

The MOVE Congress, which focuses on sport and physical activity, will be brought to Budapest, Hungary from 16-18 October 2019 by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) and the National School, University and Leisure Sport Federation (NSULF). As one of the few conferences in the world to focus solely on recreational sport and physical activity, the event assembles a wide swath of organisations and individuals who are dedicated to encouraging sporty lifestyles. As technology and trends continue to rapidly change, thereby impacting sport and physical education, new approaches for how to inspire people to keep moving is a global challenge faced by all promoters of physical activity. The main tracks for this year’s conference will be: game-changers connecting physical activity and health, carving a new niche with grassroots sport diplomacy, discovering new perspectives on physical activity promotion among school children, opening new doors to funding and support, and redefining an “active lifestyle” with MOVEment Spaces. The conference’s innovative sessions will have a unique focus on being physically active, so that participants should expect speakers to also incorporate physical activity into their presentations. 


72h Plus

BUDAPEST CARD the official city pass

FREE AIRPORT SHUTTLE & PUBLIC TRANSPORT FREE sightseeing cruise on the Danube FREE Buda Castle Funicular* FREE entry to Matthias Church FREE chimney cake at Molnár’s kürtôskalács FREE entry to 30+ top Budapest attractions & tours *Tickets are only available at the BUDAPESTINFO POINT office at Deák Ferenc tér!

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Budapest's Finest 2019 Summer  

Budapest's Finest 2019 Summer