Tuesday 3 June 2014

The Jozsefvaros and Ferencvaros districts in Budapest

During our first full day in Budapest we decided to explore the Jozsefvaros and Ferencvaros districts, where our hotel was situated.

On Lorinc Pap square, across from the hotel is the Heart of Jesus Jesuit Church - we had very loud bell ringing every evening at 7:00.

Jozsefvatos' grand but neglected apartment blocks speak of an old middle class suburb that fell into decline. Gentrification is spreading through the district now though. 


The hospital on Maria Utca

On Maria Utca again, this four-storey building, in szecesszion style, was built by Imre Benes in 1909-10 and was designed to be a tenement house. The apartments facing the courtyard were meant for the servants and the ones facing the street were the beautiful ones for the middle class. During WWII the building was hit by a bomb and during the revolution of 1956 this was the first building that collapsed and had to be rebuilt.


 Detail from a building on Ulloi Ut

A bit further down Ulloi Ut, a modernist building that houses, what else? a bank

not many modernist buildings in Budapest,

so when we saw this we had to go and investigate.
The Holocaust Memorial Centre, just off Ulloi Ut  - there will be a separate post on this but much later on, as I need to do some research.

One of the things that delighted me while we wandered around the city, are the intricate, wrought iron doors that so many of the buildings possess - I photographed lots of them and they will be appearing in the posts on Budapest

As for the buildings! So many styles: Gothic, Baroque, Classical,
but Hungarian Art Nouveau, Szecesszio style, dominates the city. Many buildings were commissioned in this style, as Hungarian Art Nouveau flourished in Budapest's golden era when its population tripled, the number of its buildings doubled and the city turned into a metropolis.
This is the Applied Arts Museum, the most flamboyant creation of Odon Lechner - there will be a separate post about that too.

When we reached the Danube, the view took our breath away: the Gellert-Hegy district of Buda with all its grand buildings as well as the green Buda hills

Looking closer

The Liberation Monument of a female figure brandishing the palm of victory, and the Citadella behind it. At the bottom of the picture is the Cave Church created in the 1930s to mark the return of the white-robed monks of the Pauline order, the only religious order indigenous to Hungary.

An excellent view of the Lanchid, the Chain Bridge, the first permanent link between Buda and Pest which was a tremendous spur to the country's economic grown and eventual unification, linking the rural hinterland to European civilisation so that Budapest became a commercial centre and transport hub. The bridge symbolised the abolition of feudal privilege as nobles, hitherto exempt from taxes, were obliged to pay the toll to cross it.

In 1945 the Wehrmacht bombarded all of Budapest's bridges in a bid to check the Red Army and their reconstruction was one of the first tasks of the postwar era.

There is a little green oasis on the embankment

with one of the many Holocaust Memorials that are dotted around the city. This one is dedicated to the Roma that were killed by the Nazis
and if you look inside one of the slits you can see a face in agony and despair

Further down the embankment is a glass come that houses a mall

and an art gallery which unfortunately was closed that morning.

The Cornivus University is the next building we came across. 

We then reached the back entrance of the Great Market Hal.


We walked through the market and came out in a square by Vamhaz Korut. Lots of people cooling off in the fountain - temperatures reached and stayed at 31oC while we were in Budapest.

Three wonderful buildings facing us, the one in the middle a fine example of Art Nouveau style

as is this one
 looking closer


another great wrought iron door


and another one further down the road


another majestic building

 another Art Nouveau building

detail of its Art Nouveau relief work - so typical of the period


sculpture of a cyclist


very different to the majority of the majority of sculptures around the city featuring famous men quite often riding their horses,  celebrating Budapest's golden period

lovely face looking up at the sky.

This is Lorinc Pap square a few nights later. 

There was a real treat in store for us that evening. At seven o'clock we heard a choir singing outside our hotel window. They were singing classical songs and it was beautiful. 

When we went out to eat and chose the restaurant in Lorinc Pap Square, just outside our hotel, we were able to see and hear the choirs

There were 8 different choirs: they would stay in one location for half and hour and then move on to be substituted by another group singing. The music ranged from classical songs to folk music, and even a Mikis Theodorakis song, yalo-yalo pigainame, which was sung in Greek to my delight.

Such a good idea! It's always wonderful to come across excellent singing like this when you least expect it.


  1. A dozen years ago or more, these choirs were often American college student groups on a tour - in between paying concerts they would find a square and sing for the pleasure of it. Perhaps this is still so. In any case, how wonderful it is to come across live music!

    1. It was wonderful, Margaret. I think you have probably solved the mystery of what these choirs were - and it's an idea I really like: just finding a square and singing for the pleasure of it! Thanks for this.

  2. It is obvious why so many film companies have been going to Budapest as a location for anything based in the Belle Epoque. The 1990's manifestation of the Georges Simenon novels with Michael Gambon as Maigret were filmed there.
    I always loved those buildings from the prosperous pre WWI era when I was little in Thessaloniki. Those incredible doors and stairways! It is lovely to see your photographs.

    1. People kept telling me what a beautiful city Budapest is, and how full of Art Nouveau buildings it is, but it was beyond anything I imagined. You sort of get blaze after a bit 'oh, another one' while anywhere else, seeing a beautiful Art Nouveau building is like discovering a treasure. So, it was a week of delights.

      I must look out for the series based on Georges Simenon novels - I have not watched them.