Public art is one of the benefits of living in a big city, and Budapest has a lot to offer. From murals to statues, fountains, mosaics and more, we take a tour around the city today to celebrate some of Budapest’s most extraordinary works of street art.
Exploring Budapest’s street art
As we mentioned in our previous article on walking tours, in non-corona times it was easy to jump on a tour around the city to enjoy and learn more about the street art adorning Budapest. Now the convenience of those walking tours are on hold, but WeLoveBudapest is here to help.
around the corner onto Klauzál tér and you might have a split-second where you
think you’re looking at a real building façade, before you realise the people
there aren’t moving, and it’s actually a deceptively-realistic mural. A man
hammers new tiles onto the roof, an older couple enjoys some fresh air on their
balcony, a dog waits patiently outside the fruit-and-veg shop and the
shopkeeper herself stands at ease in the doorway.
In fact, if you have sharp enough eyes, you might realise that the shopkeeper is a real woman – Aunt Zsuzsa – and she is in fact the shopkeeper of the grocery on the other side of the square, facing the mural. Those who pass by at opportune moments might swing their head from one side to the other and see Zsuzsa smiling at her own face!
The mural was originally a project from 2012, called the FirewallRehab, and was retouched and new characters were added in 2016, after a leak damaged the original painting. It’s a local treasure hiding in plain sight, and a favourite among District VII residents.
Városliget Parking Garage Gallery
One of the most recent installations of street art in the city is actually below ground. The three-level subterranean car park was designed to alleviate parking headaches around Városliget, providing some 800 new spaces. But along with practicality, the designers have also included an art gallery of works by 12 prominent Hungarian artists, including László Moholy-Nagy, Ilona Keserü, Dóra Maurer, Imre Bak and Victor Vasarely. In an environment which would otherwise be lacklustre and unassuming, it's a splash of colour and vivacity, something all street art strives to achieve.
Kazinczy utca 12 – door painting
On busy summer days, when tourists usually flooded the city and flock to the ruin bars, it was a common sight to see a throng of people huddled around Kazinczy utca 12. Get a little closer and it's no question why – the incredible door painting here is exquisite, colourful and easily one of the most unique entrances in the city.
Hungarians are fiercely proud of their sports accomplishments, so much so that the whole side of a building has been dedicated to remembering the seemingly impossible 1953 victory over England, with a score of six to three. Known as the Match of the Century, the mural went up on the 60th anniversary of the landmark win, depicting a goal being scored, a match ticket and the front page of the following day’s Népsport newspaper. Goalkeeper Gyula Grosics and defender Jenő Buzánszky are also depicted – they were still alive when the painting was unveiled.
Let Sourdough Be the Bridge
When the first wave of lockdown measures swept across the country at the onset of the coronavirus, people were scared. The idea that food might become scarce led to some hoarding of the essentials – rice, pasta, canned good and the ingredients for bread. For a short while, it was impossible to find yeast in any of the supermarkets, and flour was purchased nearly as quickly as the shelves could be restocked. Out of all of this, the joke became that Hungary was the 'land of bakers'. This commemorative mural harkens back to that spirit of self-reliance, and how the baking of bread became Hungary's shared community act. Ultimately the worries subsided and the panic buying ceased, and we can look back on that time with a smile, and appreciate how sourdough brought us all together.
The inspiration for a huge mural on Kazinczy utca is a classic of regional cuisine, long-horned Hungarian grey cattle, by the internationally acclaimed artists TransOne and Fat Heat. The lounging bull with its curved horns and regal attire is about to take a big chomp out of some tasty-looking grass. The mural can be seen from the street when strolling through District VII, looming above the passers-by with its vibrant colour and phenomenal technique.
Mini statues by Kolodko
One of Budapest's most prolific – and endearing – street artists is Mihály Kolodko. His mini-statues are hiding in plain sight all around the city, and each one has a special story behind it. Take the tiny scuba diver holding a key at the intersection of Dohány and Osvát utca: legend has it that after a night of partying at the resplendent New York Café, playwright Ferenc Molnár was loathe to see the establishment close for the night. So he threatened to solve the problem for himself, tak the key and throw it in the Danube! These sculptures are scattered all around the city, so it's worth keeping your eyes wide open as you walk around.
Puskás Öcsi statue in Óbuda
Ferenc Puskás is a name we can see all around the city, as the revered footballer is a household name. His memory is forever enshrined in bronze on the main pedestrianised promenade in Óbuda, where the sportsman prepares to amaze a group of surrounding children. This art installation was created from the original design by Gyula Pauer, who died while it was being made, and then completed by another artist, Dávid Tóth. In fact, Budapest is full of interesting statues of interesting people, as we wrote about in June 2020.
The Golden Calf
One of Budapest's latest murals, The Golden Calf is another work by Neopaint, the prolific artists behind many of the city's most recognisable large-scale works of wall art. The vast mural on Német utca in District VIII was six months in the making, and its watercolour-like effect and fairy-tale whimsical feel make for a breathtaking example of incredible public art.
Street art or gallery?
Mosaic is not a normal medium for Hungarian street artists, and perhaps that is why these peering eyes make such an impression on passers-by. Márton Hegedűs completed the installation in 2014, the graphic designer from the Hungarian version of Playboy. His style is mainly based on comic-book art and graphic novels.
Kertész utca 27
In 2017, Hungarian and international artists launched a huge project to erect seven murals as part of the annual Színes Város Festival, which we documented here. For lovers of street art, it's a veritable treasure trove. Included in the project was this Alice in Wonderland-inspired 170-square-metre mural by Spanish artist Dan Ferrer.
Budapest is full of amazing street art, and we've only just scratched the surface here. There are many more worth checking out, and Budapest Flow have put together the most comprehensive map of Budapest's street art to date, with photos and addresses provided. Which mural is your favourite?