In the very last hour, Ybl Miklós' gorgeous work, the 131-year old Várkert Bazaar escaped destruction. After the reconstruction, it can finally connect the Castle with the Danube's riverbank, and create a new cultural space and ornamental garden for the passersby. One thing is sure: Budapest became richer with a real curio, a kind that no other city has.
Ruin in the past, Instagram star in the future
Campaign location? Obviously. Unmatched value? Of course! Would it have collapsed by itself? No question… One of Ylb's main works deserved renovations not just because of its historic and cityscape role, but also because there seemed to be a huge demand for it to connect the Danube's shore with the Castle, therefore contributing to their revitalization. The renovations were completed on the creator's 200th anniversary.
The 131 year-old Várkert Bazaar declined for decades, and foreigners were amazed at how we would leave a monument, perfect for postcard pictures, rot away right in the middle of the city. 1984's Ifipark concert, for example, starred a Wall that collapsed - and the building complex was closed since then, for thirty years…
The neo-renaissance building was one of the world's one hundred most threatened monuments since 1996, which is shame, considering it's being located in a metropolis thriving to become a cosmopolitan city. Also, it is a great missed opportunity: just imagine how many selfies, photos and videos will be made of this unique building, and how many new visitors and "fans" will that mean in the future.
Will it be successful? Probably.The building's greatest problem used to be its traffic difficulties: this is the reason the shops planned near the building were transformed into studios after the opening in 1883. Setting up the functions correctly will be a challenge this time, too, but now we have something we didn't in the 19th century: modern tourism. Whoever has been on the Buda side with open eyes could see that the Castle is full of tourists, just like the shore. The two groups had one problem in common - they did not know how to get to the other place.
So there was traffic - and solvent demand - before, too, but no connection between the two 'levels': we would not like to include the Buda Castle Hill Funicular, unaffordable for locals on a daily basis, or the 16 bus, always packed and smelly. Várkert Bazaar has a great chance for success just by acting as an effective connection.
Park, bazaar, et ceteraWe have not talked about how the city gets a new resting and cultural space yet. In the Várkert's side, there will also be a large event space and underground parking garage, and on top, the legendary ornamental garden will be restored as well.
In the Castle there will be new exhibitions, and on the street front , a restaurant and confectionary will open soon. News say that the Museum of Applied Arts' extremely valuable Ottoman-Turkish carpet collection might be moved here, which seems like a great idea.
However, many people left the opening ceremony disappointed. An old man asked us the philosophical question: "aren't bazaars some kind of shopping things"? It is true that there are no shops, cafés, or gardens there yet, since the renovation takes place in two phrases: the first includes the renovation of parts designed by Ybl based on original plans, and the second part that is to be finished within a few months will add 'contemporary' additions and functions to the place. A great monument, soon to be a favorite of locals and tourists, escaped disgraceful decay. With this, the city will - yet again - become more, prettier, and more livable.