budapest

szerkesztés

Kálvin tér over the course of a century – the changing faces of a downtown square

Writers

  • Gábor Wágner

27/06/2022 11.39am

Where three main Pest districts meet, V, VIII and IX, has always been a busy crossroads. There were times when today’s Kálvin tér was greener, and when there was a market here, so it’s no coincidence that it was previously called Hay Square and Pig Traders’ Square, before earning the name Calvin tér in 1866. This was duly Magyarised to Kálvin in 1953. Through this series of archive photographs, you can see how this focal downtown space changed from the 1850s to the present day.

Where Kálvin tér stands today, there once stood the city wall surrounding medieval Pest. Fairs were held in front of Kecskemét Gate, which rises at the southern end of the street of the same name.


When the last piece of the city wall was demolished in 1808, the outline of the square was delineated. As the roads led to this from the direction of the Great Hungarian Plain, its farms and fields, this process only accelerated and the importance of this space increased.

The Reformed Church was built between 1816 and 1830, replacing a cemetery. Other major buildings followed in the later 1800s. A few vendors remained in the area, but the landscape was changing.


Kálvin tér was an important hub of urban transport – for example, here was the terminus of the horse-drawn train to Újpest.

The first known photo of Kálvin tér, then named Széna tér (1844 or 1852)

Photo: Wikipedia

Danubius Fountain & the First Pest Savings Bank (1894)

Photo: Fortepan - Kiss László

National Museum (1874-1882)

Photo: Fortepan - Budapest Főváros Levéltára / Klösz György Fényképei

Ráday (then Soroksári) utca (1895)

Photo: Fortepan - Budapest Főváros Levéltára / Klösz György Fényképei

Kálvin tér, Danubius Fountain & Reformed Church (1891-1897)

Photo: Fortepan - Budapest Főváros Levéltára / Klösz György Fényképei

Kálvin tér, Danubius Fountain & Múzeum körút (1907)

Photo: Fortepan - Széman György

Kálvin tér, National Museum & First Pest Savings Bank (1920)

Photo: Fortepan - Balázs János

Kálvin tér, Geist House at the opening to Kecskeméti utca (1937)

Photo: Fortepan

Reformed Church, wedding of European champion wrestler Dr László Papp and ballerina Ilona Stiller (1937)

Photo: Fortepan - Bojár Sándor

Kálvin tér from Múzeum körút (1940)

Photo: Fortepan - Bojár Sándor

The image of the square changed considerably during World War II, especially during the bitter fighting of 1944-45. Several significant buildings were razed, and the Danubius Fountain, built in 1883 according to the plans of Miklós Ybl of Opera House fame, was destroyed.


During the post-war reconstruction, green space disappeared and Kálvin tér became an increasingly important base for public transport.

The square played an important role during the 1956 Revolution. On the one hand, the siege of the Hungarian Radio building took place nearby Bródy Sándor utca on October 23, then in the following days there was more serious gunfire and a tank battle.

Until the mid-1970s, the square was quite calm, before the underpass was built in 1973, and a year later, Kálvin tér station on blue metro line 3. Around the change of régime in 1989, the Korona Hotel was rebuilt.


In 2010 another major renovation took place, with the aim of regaining the old, park-like character of the space. It’s still nothing like the mid-1800s but at least pedestrians now have more room.

1945

Photo: Fortepan - Vörös Hadsereg

1945

Photo: Fortepan - Vörös Hadsereg

1945

Photo: Fortepan

National Museum (1948)

Photo: Fortepan / Magyar Rendőr

Kálvin tér, Baross utca & Üllői út (1950)

Photo: Fortepan - Magyar Rendőr

1952

Photo: Fortepan - Budapest Főváros Levéltára / Városrendezési És Építészeti Osztályának Fényképei

Kálvin tér & Üllői út (1952)

Photo: Fortepan

Szabadság Department Store on Kálvin tér (1953)

Photo: Fortepan - UVATERV

Music terrace on Kálvin tér/Kecskeméti utca (1953)

Photo: Fortepan

Red star & vintage transport (1954)

Photo: Fortepan - UVATERV

1956

Photo: Fortepan - Keveházi János

1956

Photo: Fortepan - Tóth Tibor

View from the Reformed Church (1957)

Photo: Fortepan - FŐMTERV

View of Kálvin tér from Múzeum körút/Kecskeméti utca (1960)

Photo: Fortepan - FŐMTERV

State Insurance building, Üllői út/Ráday utca (1965)

Photo: Fortepan - Ferencvárosi Helytörténeti Gyűjtemény

1966

Photo: Fortepan - BL

View of Kálvin tér/National Museum from Reformed Church (1966)

Photo: Fortepan - Magyar Rendőr

Plots and tracks in the snow (1973)

Photo: Fortepan - FŐMTERV

Construction of Kálvin tér underpass (1974)

Photo: Fortepan - Szalay Zoltán

Metro construction (1975)

Photo: Fortepan - Szalay Zoltán

Almost as today (1977)

Photo: Fortepan - Rubinstein Sándor

1977

Photo: Fortepan - Ferencvárosi Helytörténeti Gyűjtemény

1978

Photo: Fortepan - Magyar Rendőr

Iconic Fabulon mural (1985)

Photo: Fortepan - Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentációs Központ

Construction of Korona Hotel (1990)

Photo: Fortepan - Erdei Katalin

Korona Hotel today

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

Related content

Admin mode