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10 best memorial museums in Budapest

Writers

  • Gábor Wágner

18/05/2022 10.37am

Hungary’s great and good are honoured with memorial museums around Budapest, houses – and sometimes gardens – where these writers, composers and sculptors lived and worked. Here, original artefacts illustrate their lives, achievements and even personal habits. On view are the mini keyboard Franz Liszt kept in his desk drawer, the sound-recording machine used by Zoltán Kodály for his research in the field and poet Attila József’s cigarette case. Although opening hours can be haphazard, entrance fees are modest and the experience intimate.

Photo: Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest

Endre Ady Memorial Museum

1/10

1053 Budapest, Véres Pálné utca 4-6

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Opened in early 2022 after long-term renovation, the Endre Ady Memorial Museum is set in the downtown Budapest apartment where the great poet spent his last days, from autumn 1917 until his death in January 1919. Opened in 1977 on the centenary of his birth, this three-room residence was almost completely reconstructed, although his personal belongings and furniture are original, and the layout shows what a middle-class apartment looked like in the early 1900s. Revamped exhibition and public spaces now feature attractive installations, while Hungarian speakers can look forward to a regular series of interactive events. Open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm

Photo: Bartók Béla Emlékház/Facebook

Bartók Memorial House

2/10

1025 Budapest, Csalán út 29

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The composer’s last residence in Budapest before he took a steamship to New York in 1940, the Bartók Memorial House is now mainly an events venue, used for concerts, educational presentations and film screenings. There are currently no artefacts on view related to Bartók’s life and work, although a new permanent exhibition is expected by 2023. A visit is still worthwhile, however, sitting where Bartók would have pondered his uncertain future and farewell to his homeland as Europe collapsed around him. Open Thur-Sun 10am-5pm

Photo: Csonka János Emlékmúzeum

János Csonka Memorial Museum

3/10

1114 Budapest, Bartók Béla út 31

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Few outside Hungary might recognise the name of János Csonka, his works and achievements taught to Hungarian schoolchildren. This self-taught inventor played a vital role in the earliest days of motorised transport, sharing the credit for the development of the carburettor, essential to the functioning of the internal combustion engine. This house where Csonka had his car-repair workshop and machine factory, on now trendy Bartók Béla út, was converted into a museum and opened in 2012 on the 160th anniversary of his birth. Csonka also played an important role in the development of the first traffic regulations, early driving instruction and network of petrol stations. He designed the first Hungarian vehicle in 1900, a motorised mail collection tricycle for the post office, an example of which stands in one corner. Open Sat 10am-1pm

Photo: Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest

Jókai Garden

4/10

1121 Budapest, Költő utca 21

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The memorial site of famed Hungarian writer Mór Jókai differs from others of its ilk. Although there is a building here with a museum, this is basically the garden and nature reserve that the novelist bought in 1853 at the age of 28 with the royalties from Egy magyar nábob and Kárpáthy Zoltán. Here on picturesque Svábhegy, Jókai brought the largely barren and neglected land to life with his own bare hands. He grew grapes, planted trees and set up a model farm. The harvests on Svábhegy became important events in Hungarian artistic life, in which all the significant cultural personalities of the day took part. The garden is open year-round. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm

Photo: Polyák Attila - We Love Budapest

Attila József Memorial Site

5/10

1095 Budapest, Gát utca 3

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Birthplace of Hungary’s revered poet, Attila József, this memorial site in a one-floor residential block was where he lived with his impoverished family for the first three months of his life. The museum originally opened in 1964 and has been renovated and expanded several times over the decades, most recently in 2015. As part of the modern, interactive permanent exhibition, along with first editions and his own handwritten poems, and the pocket watch, cigarette case, wallet and slingshot from his youth, much has been reconstructed, such as a model showing the original condition of the apartment. Note also the rocking horse of the kind that Attila would have shredded for firewood during a particularly cold winter. Open Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm

Photo: Csudai Sándor - We Love Budapest

Kassák Museum

6/10

1033 Budapest, Fő tér 1

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The Kassák Museum on a pretty, cobbled, historic main square in Óbuda was opened in 1976 with the intention of presenting the material and intellectual legacy of the outstanding writer, poet and editor of the Hungarian avant-garde of the 1920s. The museum also organises exhibitions, conferences and lectures, and participates in research. Open Wed & Fri, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, Thur noon-7pm

Photo: Szabó Gábor - We Love Budapest

Zoltán Kodály Memorial Museum

7/10

1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 89-91

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Zoltán Kodály lived in a four-room apartment on the ground floor of a residential building in this grand sweep of houses from 1924 until his death in 1967. In 1971, the rond-point was named after him and in 1990, his apartment was converted into a museum, keeping everything in its original condition. The most exciting part is the 19th century-style salon, where Kodály welcomed his guests and students, and his study, where he had a huge library, some examples from his folk-instrument collection, and the sound-recording machine that he used when he travelled around the countryside to collect folk songs. Open Wed-Fri 10am-noon, 2pm-4.30pm, Sat 11am-2pm

Photo: Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest

Franz Liszt Memorial Museum

8/10

1064 Budapest, Vörösmarty utca 35

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Liszt’s last apartment in Budapest was here on the first floor of the original Music Academy that he established, before it moved to Andrássy út, and then to the Art-Nouveau building we know today. Here the composer lived from 1881 to 1886. It’s now a memorial museum, dealing with the life, work and age of Franz Liszt. You can see Liszt’s original instruments, furniture, library and sheet music, and the museum is also the centre of Liszt research in Hungary. Liszt’s desk where he used to compose was made for him by the Austrian piano manufacturer Ignaz Bösendorfer who, to Liszt’s surprise, also placed a small keyboard instrument in the middle of the drawer. Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm

Photo: Róth Miksa Emlékház/Facebook

Miksa Róth Memorial House

9/10

1078 Budapest, Nefelejcs utca 26

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Miksa Róth was the finest applied artist of his day, involved in the decoration of many public and private buildings in Budapest, working mainly with stained glass and mosaics. He bought this house near Keleti station in 1910, which was a family home in the street-facing part and his workshops were located in the courtyard. Today it’s a museum, dealing with the life and work of this adaptable creator, whose work can still be seen in prestigious buildings around Budapest – Parliament, Buda Castle, the Gresham Palace – and even as far as Mexico. Open Tue-Wed 10am-2pm, Thur 1pm-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm

Photo: Varga Imre Gyűjtemény - Facebook

Imre Varga Collection

10/10

1033 Budapest, Laktanya utca 7

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This permanent exhibition was opened in a lovely garden in Óbuda in 1983 to honour the work of the Hungarian sculptor on his 60th birthday. He died in 2019. His award-winning statues, some 300 of them, can be seen in squares, churches, museums and other public buildings. Some of the most striking figures are found here, detailed, dramatic and lifelike, reclining in the sun or leaning against a bridge. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm

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