Hungary’s countryside is in the heart of Budapest at Urban Betyár
Photo : Hartyányi Norbert/We Love Budapest
16/11/2016, 3:22 AM●5-minute article
Visitors to Urban Betyár can admire a wide-ranging collection of captivating regional relics that are treasures of Hungarian folklore, like ornately embroidered outfits and hand-painted wooden furniture – but this eclectic establishment is more than just an exhibit space. This brand-new Budapest visitor center is an interactive entertainment complex that evokes a bygone era through state-of-the-art technology and locally inspired gastronomy. Now anyone can experience vibrant tastes of Magyar traditions from across the country, all found in one place just steps away from St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Found along Október 6. Street in central Pest’s District V, a classic edifice hides in plain sight after recently receiving a thorough renovation to serve as a modern-day visitor center for city visitors who would like to explore the diverse cultural heritage of the Hungarian countryside, but who don’t have enough time on their hands to embark on a lengthy journey outside of Budapest. This new establishment aims to provide insight into Hungary’s folk arts and the bucolic lifestyle in the 19th and early-20th century by presenting a collection of ordinary objects from local households of the past.
Traversing the subterranean exhibition halls of the building, visitors see recreated areas of traditional Magyar homes, where secluded areas feature intricately designed wooden furniture, vintage kitchen supplies, and period costumes, but we also come across a traditional Hungarian-style beehive oven, a horse cart, and various tools that were commonly used in regional agriculture.
Viewing the carefully selected display, guests gain insight into rustic Hungary while innovative technological features help evoke past centuries by providing lifelike experiences: touch screens are installed throughout the museum, allowing visitors to select audio narratives (available in English and Hungarian) that describe the presented displays, and a state-of-the-art holographic projection demonstrates a woman performing varied household chores, like kneading dough for bread or husking corn. A full-price ticket to the museum costs 1,500 forints (about 5 euros), and it includes a chip card with a token for tasting 120 ml of varied local wines from the vending machine set up near the museum’s reception area; while sipping on the aromatic libations we can read about Magyar grape varieties presented in English on the wall by the dispenser.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest 11 pictures
Besides serving as an interactive exhibition ground, Urban Betyár is home to a spacious restaurant located on the building’s ground floor. Here guests can dine and wine amid a truly eclectic environment, where a mix of tastefully upcycled antiquated furniture stands side-by-side with contemporary design pieces. The setting is dotted with authentically aged props, like an oversized grape press from the mid-1800s that enhances the spiral stairway between the museum and the restaurant, or the dismantled railway tracks suspended from above the bar.
The railway theme is a recurring element throughout the restaurant, evoking the culture of the legendary Hungarian Betyár (“outlaw” in English) – a frequent figure of many Magyar folk tales – as these characters were infamous for their train-robbery capers. Anyone who wants to learn more about these oft-celebrated bandits of history can retreat to a high-tech corner of the restaurant where an interactive screen displays the best-known brigands from around the world, including Britain’s fabled antihero Robin Hood, or Australian bushranger Ned Kelly.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest 9 pictures
From the spacious dining hall, guests get front-row views of centuries-old cooking and food-smoking methods performed from behind a glass-covered area – we can see how goulash soup is traditionally prepared in a large cauldron, or the authentic process of smoking trout or duck, and best of all, we can order all of these mouthwatering meals from the menu.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest 6 pictures
The rest of the eatery’s tasteful selection includes a fusion of Hungarian and international delicacies, like the foie gras mini burger (3,590 HUF), guinea fowl bouillon (1,590 HUF), Hungarian Grey Cattle beef tenderloin Budapest style (5,990 HUF), or the rack of lamb served with rosemary-cep sauce and traditional Hungarian dumplings filled with foie gras (5,490 HUF); guests can also order pre-designed menus of three or four courses (7,990 and 9,990 HUF). To wash down the creatively crafted treats, the bar serves an impressive selection of intoxicating drinks spanning some of Hungary’s finest wines and pálinka specialties, along with high-end international cognacs and whiskies.
Photo: Urban Betyár 10 pictures
Budapest’s newest visitor center is complete with a small souvenir store filled with a selection of locally made merchandise, including conventional gifts like paprika powder or traditionally dressed porcelain dolls, sold beside new-wave souvenirs like the Folqa figures (a collection of folk characters that represent traditional Hungarian occupations), a bracelet with a map of Budapest’s underground system, or assorted contemporary stationery.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest 4 pictures
Without a doubt, thanks to its compact structure and wide-ranging services, when Urban Betyár opens to the public on November 17th, it will become the go-to place for tourists visiting Hungary’s capital, but the establishment also offers a pair of secluded event halls equipped with the latest conference technologies and an elegantly furnished VIP room, making it an ideal alternative for business meetings and conferences. What’s more, the visitor center provides a well-supplied bathroom for mothers with babies, and it’s fully accessible for guests who use a wheelchair.