Now, more than ever, we appreciate the work carried out by doctors and health-care professionals. This has given us a good excuse, if we needed one, to see how many streets and squares in Budapest bear the names of famous Hungarian physicians. Spoiler: actually, not as many as you might think. So at the end of the article, we also provide a few suggestions as to who might be missing.

Although we do not have the exact statistics, upon closer examination, if you want to have a street named after you in Budapest, you should have been a politician, a military leader, boffin, writer, poet, actor, inventor or a public figure such as a newspaper publisher or fearless lawyer. For some reason, doctors and physicians are never first in line when naming streets and squares. But let’s have a look at those who were chosen on the basis of their achievements and reputation in health care.

Hospitals and surgeries

Before we do, how about the profession as a whole? Although several streets have been called Kórház, ‘Hospital’, some fell victim to urban planning, and were renamed. At the moment, there are only two. On industrial Csepel island, District XXI, Kórház köz (‘Hospital Alley’) has been in place since 1930, and Kórház utca in Óbuda, got its name back in 1874. This also justified, as one or more hospitals have stood there ever since people started living in the area.

This can be said about Rendelő utca (‘Surgery Street’) in District XVI, where a doctor's office opened in 1954, and when the street got its name. Orvos utca (‘Doctor Street’) in Krisztinaváros, District I, got its name in 1879, while Sebész köz and Sebész utca, referring to surgeons, have featured on the street map of Soroksár, District XXIII, since 1953.

János Balassa (1814-1868)

This surgeon of noble origin was the creator of modern Hungarian surgical education and practice. He was a great authority in his day, so much so that even Empress Elisabeth chose her as her doctor and, as an obstetrician, she helped Archduchess Marie Valerie into the world in Buda Castle. The dormitory of Semmelweis University on Tömő utca bears its name, near the street named after him where, for example, the university’s Clinic of Neurology is also located.

Bókay family

The Bókays were a medical family, their heyday roughly 100 years between the second half of the 1800s and the first decades of the 1900s. Their original name was Bock, from which they rendered as Bókay in 1849 at the suggestion of a good family friend, famed writer Mór Jókai. The most famous Bókay, who has his own street name, was János the Elder (1822-1884), founder of Hungarian paediatrics, as does one of his sons, Árpád (1856-1919), an internist-pharmacologist, founder and editor of the Hungarian Medical Archive. The former has a street in District VIII, the latter in District XVIII amid the Bókaytelep cluster of houses.

Endre Hőgyes (1847-1906)

A street in Ferencváros was named after a prominent representative of experimental medicine in 1936. He was the founder and first director of the Pasteur Institute in Budapest. Known worldwide as a pioneer in the field of rabies vaccinations, he also achieved significant results in hearing testing.

Ferenc Jahn

The heroic doctor who lent his name the South Pest Hospital and Clinic was given a street in 1948 in District XIX, Kispest. He had died three years earlier of typhoid at Dachau concentration camp, where he had been placed because of his activities in the Resistance. Called the ‘Doctor of the Poor’, Jahn healed not only in Kispest but also among the working communities of Pestszenterzsébet, Kőbánya, Csepel and Pestszentlőrinc.

Korányi family

The Korányi family were contemporaries of the Bókays (see above) – both father Frigyes (1827-1913) and son Sándor (1866-1944) were thought worthy of urban distinction. The latter was honoured with a street name only two years after his death, in 1946. The 1st Department of Internal Medicine of Semmelweis University, is located here, in District VIII. Sacrificing his entire life in the fight against lung disease, a few years later his son shared the same fate in 1952, when a street in Keresztúridűlő in District X bore his name.

Géza Krepuska (1861-1949)

Relatively few people know his name, although Krepuska was the founder of Hungarian ear medicine, author of the first textbook on ear surgery written in Hungarian and even founded an ear department at the university. It wasn’t until after the fall of Communism, in 1991, that one of the streets in the Alacskai út housing estate in District XVIII was named after him.

Géza Kresz (1846-1901)

The name of the founder of the Budapest Voluntary Ambulance Association (1887) has a double meaning in Hungarian, as it’s the same as the acronym for the local Highway Code, KRESZ, that everyone must learn before taking their driving test. The doctor, however, did so much more for public health. A street in Újlipótváros, District XIII, is named after him, near the central building of the National Ambulance Service on Markó utca.

Mihály Lenhossék (1863-1937)

For those interested in medicine, the Lenhossék family name is hallowed. Mihály Jr, the renowned neuroscientist, may have had a street named after him but his father József and grandfather Mihály Sr were pioneers, not to mention one of his nephews, the Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and discoverer of vitamin C, Albert Szent-Györgyi (shamefully overlooked when it comes to names of streets or squares in Budapest). In 1953, Mihály Lenhossék received a street in Ferencváros.

Mátyás Rozsnyay (1833-1895)

The chemist-pharmacist (not the namesake chess master) was given a street in Angyalföld in 1900. Rozsnyay’s name survived mainly because he managed to make the terribly bitter quinine edible for children by neutralising its taste. He made his invention available to the public free of charge, and worldwide.

Sebestyén Rumbach (1764-1844)

The man who very few know was a doctor, though his name is well known to almost everyone thanks to the narrow little street near the Great Synagogue in the the heart of town. Rumbach was the first health officer in Budapest, whose name is associated with the establishment of the first communal bath in the capital, the so-called Iron Bath, which stood on the corner of Podmaniczky and Munkácsy Mihály utca.

His street, where he owned several houses, gained his name in 1939, having been known since 1874 as Rombach after the family’s original surname. Sebestyén Rumbach (and his office) enjoyed great popularity and respect throughout the city, because he primarily healed the poor, free of charge, and refused any official acknowledgement after serving in the military hospitals of Pest and Buda.

Ferenc Schwartzer (1818-1889)

The founder of Hungarian scientific psychology was honoured with a street in 1905 in Krisztinaváros, District XII. In 1850, he founded the country's first private mental hospital in Vác, which he brought to Buda to Kék Golyó utca, in 1852. Today, the National Oncology Institute remains in place. Schwartzer is also credited with the fact that psychiatry shunned severe, coercive measures and introduced occupational therapy instead.

Ignác Semmelweis (1818-1865)

In street naming, of course, one great stands out above all others. Obstetrician-gynaecologist Semmelweis, ‘the mothers’ saviour’, discovered the cause of childbirth fever, changing the lives of thousands. The sad twist of fate is that the selfless doctor eventually died of sepsis. There are currently three streets named after him around Budapest: in Újpest in 1920, in the city centre in 1906 (in the 19th century, the medical university stood here) and Ganztelep in District XVIII has had a Semmelweis utca since 1945. See how Semmelweis is still influencing our lives today with this simple video.

János Szentágothai (1912-1994)

One of the most famous names among Hungary’s famed doctors is this neurobiologist brain researcher. Kossuth Prize-winning scion of a renowned medical dynasty, Szentágothai was president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences between 1976 and 1985, and was honoured with a square in Ferencváros in 2013. He also started the sceptical movement in Hungary, whose activity is aimed at exposing fraudsters and pseudo-scientists.

Worthy potential recipients

Zoltán Antalóczy The internationally renowned cardiologist, who died in 2019, had several revolutionary patents in his field.

Gusztáv Bárczi His work, honoured at least in the naming of the Faculty of Special Education at Eötvös Loránd University, concerned the treatment of the mentally handicapped and the hard of hearing, as well as the creation of special education and special education training in Hungary. 

Ferenc Bene They were two. The elder introduced smallpox vaccination to Hungary in 1801, the younger was an authority in the field of forensic medicine.  

Sándor Doktor
This renowned obstetrician-gynaecologist did much to curb excessive alcohol consumption, which was harmful to the health of the population, and also volunteered for the Red Cross in World War I. Although there was a Budapest street named after him before, it the sign was later changed, perhaps because he was a devout Communist.

Pál Heim Lending his name to the Children's Hospital, Heim earns eternal distinction in the field of child health.

Ödön Kerpel-Fronius The greatest achievement of this Kossuth Prize-winning paediatrician was the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis in infancy.  

Gyula Nyírő The man who gave his name to the National Institute of Psychiatry and Addiction researched into schizophrenia, achieving significant results.  

János Selye The Austro-Hungarian internist, endocrinologist and chemist became a world-famous researcher on stress.  

Albert Szent-Györgyi Someone name a street after this Nobel prize-winning biochemist, please! You have our complete blessing. 

Ödön Téry While this doctor’s selfless work was carried out during the smallpox epidemic of 1883-84, its positive effects in 2006 are more than worthy of mention. Téry also did a lot to promote a healthy lifestyle by being one of the pioneers of healthy outdoor activity in Hungary.