The streets of District VII closest to the city centre have been home to the religious centres of Orthodox Jews of Budapest since the 19th century. This includes the synagogues in Dohány utca (the second largest in Europe), Rumbach Sebestyén utca and Kazinczy utca. In November 1944, the area between Király utca, Kertész utca, Dohány utca and Károly körút was delineated as the Jewish Ghetto, which segregated tens of thousands of Jews, many then sent to concentration camps. Brave actions on the part of diplomats Raoul Wallenberg, Giorgio Perlasca and Swedish embassy employee Károly Szabó helped save the lives of several thousand who remained, up until the Liberation of Budapest in January 1945.
After the war, the depopulated quarter was left neglected, until slowly being revived once the Jewish Quarter was transformed into Budapest’s party zone. After 2000, ruin pubs began popping up in many buildings and their inner courtyards. Nightlife stalwarts such as Szimpla and Ellátó kert still enjoy unfaltering popularity while the nearby Gozsdu Udvar has gone from abandoned alleyway to the busiest bar hub in Budapest. Mention must be made of the many murals decorating the sides of buildings on Rumbach Sebestyén utca and nearby streets, depicting Habsburg royalty, Hungary’s seminal 6:3 football victory over England and other iconic elements from Hungarian history and culture.
Interest in local Jewish history has equally increased exponentially, with any number of walking and bike tours. A number of annual festivals celebrate Jewish culture and cuisine, while Jewish-friendly restaurants include the contemporary, lively Mazel Tov, which embraces the ruin-bar genre and whose gastronomic remit covers the eastern Mediterranean as a whole.