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Három Holló opens in Budapest to revive old Endre Ady haunt

Endre Ady was a turn-of-the-century Hungarian poet and journalist, regarded by many as the greatest Hungarian wordsmith of the 20th century. On the occasion of his 140th birthday, the Három Holló Café opened beside Elizabeth Bridge, inside the building of the Piarist Order. Setting itself up as the spiritual heir of Ady’s former hangout of the same name, the current venue contains more than 500 square meters and three floors of café, exhibition and performance space. This literary and artistic center was unveiled with a free five-day cultural festival.

The original Három Holló, located on Andrássy Avenue, was more of a pub than a café, awaiting thirsty customers near the Hungarian State Opera – especially frequent visitors Endre Ady and his fraternity. Gyula Krúdy, Ady’s contemporary Hungarian writer and journalist, immortalized the everyday lives (or rather, nights) of the literary pub in his writing Ady Endre éjszakái (“The Nights of Endre Ady”).

The historical storms of the 20th century swept the pub away without a trace, and thus it remained only as a cultural memory and urban legend. That is, until the popular Eckermann Café opened on the ground floor of the Goethe Institut on Andrássy Avenue in the 1990s. There a culture-savvy young clientele discussed literary ideas, sipped coffee and perused the pages of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in traditional newspaper holders. After the Goethe Institut moved to Ráday Street, only part of its café clientele went with it. The rest drifted to other coffeehouses in District VI and VII. Now with the opening of the Három Holló Café, this clientele has found each other again.

Even before its official opening, this new café impressed visitors when hosting OFF-Biennálé Budapest. Its enormous windows, grandiose space, marble tables and thonet chairs recall the milieu of a turn-of-the-century coffeehouse, a place to read, work and relax with a coffee in hand. The walls showcase part of the former Eckermann Café as well, in the form of László Lugosi’s photographs.

A huge exhibition and performance space spreads on two floors below the café: a smaller one, overlooking the stained-glass windows of the Downtown Parish Church, and a huge underground hall beneath the building. In addition, Három Holló also contains a 500-square meter exhibition space on the first floor.

The café’s opening ceremony was also a tribute to Endre Ady, featuring the crème of the contemporary Hungarian literary scene. Musician and composer Mihály Víg opened the evening with some Ady songs, followed by toasts by Ottó Tolnai, Endre Lábass and Wilhelm Droste, behind both the Eckermann and this venture. Writers and poets, including Lajos Nagy Parti, Orsolya Karafiáth and György Spiró rekindled the atmosphere of the former famous and notorious Három Holló, while Budapest guide András Török screened Fortepan photos of the past pub.

The opening festival might have ended on November 26th but cultural and music events will be frequently scheduled in this recreation of Ady’s favorite hangout. This week alone, you can enjoy concerts by Pedro Problem, Zsuzsi Ujj and Kristóf Darvas, the Vienna Improvisers Orchestra and the Budapest Improvisers Orchestra.

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