City guide

On the waterfront: new videos reveal secret history of Budapest

Photo : Norbert Juhász / We Love Budapest
Erzsébet Bridge

One-man video-maker, tour guide and urban historian Gábor N. Szidor has just created two short films focusing on specific aspects of the development of Budapest. Each draws its inspiration, and its story, from the Danube, one dealing with the Great Flood of 1838, the other on the Tabán, on the Buda side of Elizabeth Bridge. Running between four and five minutes, these clips take us on a fascinating journey with Szidor, the self-styled ‘GabaVR’, who writes and presents the material, bringing the city to life.

Starting at Ferenciek Square, GabaVR tells the tale of the Great Flood of 1838 by means of plaques and landmarks, dotted around the tangle of streets inside the Small Boulevard. Taking us from the Centrál Café to the Hungarian National Museum, GabaVR describes how the flood devastated the neighborhood. In addition, we find out about the original Hungarian parliament and the origin of the term ‘Palace Quarter’, still used for the now re-gentrifying area behind the National Museum.

Naming his second video ‘Secrets of Tabán’, GabaVR focuses on this little-explored district tucked beneath Buda Castle. Once a seedy area of smoky taverns and establishments of ill repute, the Tabán was razed before World War II and relandscaped. Setting aside this aspect to the story and starting at the Philosophers’ Garden behind Gellért Hill, GabaVR again hones in on how water changed the course of city history. We find out about the Rudas and Rácz baths, and the Devil’s Ditches which run all the way from Hűvösvölgy to the edge of the river. We leave GabaVR backdropped by traffic zooming across Elizabeth Bridge, safe in the knowledge that untreated waste no longer flows into the Danube…