This weekend, secret gardens, an artist colony and a residential building more than 200 years old all feature at Budapest100, an annual event that allows outsiders to peek behind the city’s façades. The event, held 19-20 September, also features pop-up exhibitions, short concerts, craft displays and even a picnic. More than 50 venues participate this year – here are seven highlights.
Being held for the tenth time in 2020, the festival is open to everyone, admission free to all of its events and featured buildings. Some of the attractions, which require registration, are marked separately on the Budapest100 website, where you can find all locations and details of activities.
District I. Szilágyi Dezső tér 4
This residential building at Szilágyi Dezső tér is a true Buda-side gem: its façade is decorated with forged ornaments, Art Nouveau-style iron balconies and glass mosaics by the famed Miksa Róth (pictured), while its staircase is lined with ceramics Zsolnay, the renowned firm from Pécs. This captivating building was completed in 1912, and was once home to composer Béla Bartók, who lived in an apartment on the first floor. Honouring this fact, there are regular concerts held here – during this event visitors can listen to Mozart’s divertimentos. Open: Sat-Sun 10am-7pm
Átrium Cinema, District II. Margit körút 55
Lajos Kozma was an emblematic figure in contemporary Hungarian architecture, but he was also involved with graphic design, furniture, art and interiors, creating Art-Nouveau and Art-Deco houses in his time. The main attraction for local architecture aficionados, however, are his modern residential buildings. The seven-storey, steel-framed, flat-roofed Átrium on Margit körút was built in the ’30s, with a film theatre occupying the first two floors. Its elegant lines and simple shapes don’t necessarily draw a lot of attention from the street, but its interior is a real treat for the eyes: black-and-white chequerboard floors, marble and glass mosaics, glimmering mirrors, and lustrous red and orange walls await those who enter. Events here include a retro buffet, a display of vintage posters and an accordion concert on the Sunday. Open: Sat-Sun 11am-5pm
Goldberger House, District V. Arany János utca 32
Quite possibly, we wouldn’t have Budapest100 today if it wasn’t for this must-see pre-modern building, which is now celebrating its centenary. Built in the early 1900s, Goldberger House is one of the most stunning and elegant office buildings in Budapest, and its history dates back to an interesting time in the 20th century: it used to be the head office of the Goldberger textile factory until it was nationalised in 1948, when it became storage space for the National Textile Factory. Until the régime change, it also functioned as a dollar store, where sought-after foreign currency could be used by those lucky enough to have any. The bright, immense, glass-domed building stood empty for years, but it is now home to Central European University’s Open Society Archives. Besides admiring the magnificent architecture of the building, you can visit the POSTSOVIET photo exhibition. There’s also a Hungarian-language lecture about Hungary’s régime change of 1989. Open: Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Katona József Theatre, District V. Petőfi Sándor utca
You can now finally make it to one of Budapest’s most popular theatres at the weekend – and witness an open rehearsal as well – without having to scurry for the last few tickets. Found among lines of apartment blocks on Petőfi Sándor utca, The Katona was originally intended to become a cinema, but as it hadn’t received a licence, it became a cabaret venue and then theatre. Plays often tend to focus and reflect on our society and the real world. It might be hard to tell today, but it was first built in Art-Nouveau style, most traces of which disappeared during the theatre’s renovation between 1975-81. Today, its entrance – in the words of Hungarian linguist and literary legend Ádám Nádasdy – looks more like a sophisticated metro passageway rather than a real theatre. However, you should definitely visit this emblematic Budapest spot, as well as check out the venue’s events, such as the open rehearsal for Saturday’s big-stage production. Open: Sat-Sun 11am-6pm
Három Rózsa House, District VII. Király utca 9
Pest’s last surviving Zopfstil house was built in 1810, which means that it looks back at a 210-year history, illustrated by both its physical structure and the story behind it. Originally the private villa of county judge Jakabffy, it served quite a lot of functions, from atelier to pub, infamous nightclub and car-repair shop. It’s the oldest house in the Budapest100 repertoire for 2020, where visitors can learn about the history of Pest and its residents by exploring the building from basement to attic. Open: Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Artist colony, District VIII. Százados út 3-13
The first and oldest still functioning artist colony in Budapest is located a few minutes from the red metro station Puskás Ferenc Stadion. The single-storey, porched houses cover a large area, and are surrounded by tall trees and garden plots. It evokes another part of Budapest in terms of atmosphere, Wekerletelep (pictured), but here you can also find larger, flat-roofed and squat-shaped two-floor buildings, as well as houses equipped with leaded windows, functioning as studios. This is a great spot to stroll around or relax for a while after Sunday lunch, where visitors will also find children’s activities. Open: Sun 1pm-7pm
Hadik House/Csontváry House, District XI. Bartók Béla út 36-38
Art-Nouveau style and eclectic residential Hadik House cannot be discussed without first mention of the literary hub of the same name on the ground floor. This legendary café used to be the haunt of many famous Hungarian writers and poets, such as Frigyes Karinthy, Dezső Kosztolányi and Tibor Déry. By contrast, few know that there’s also an artist’s studio in the building, once used by the famed painter Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka. This weekend apart from a tour of the building, visitors will find craft activities, music events and screenings. Open: Sat-Sun 10am-6pm