Budapest - from the Hungarian National Museum to Szabadság tér

AUG 07,2011 - AUG 07,2011 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

Main attractions: The National Hungarian Museum, Gutenberg tér and Gutenberg-Otthon, Klauzál tér, Hajós utca 32 building, 29 Hold utca building, Hold utca Market or Belvárosi Piac, Budapesti Postatakarékpénztár (former Budapest Post Office Savings Bank), Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank), Szabadság tér.

Orientation: this route DOES NOT include first-class attractions. It may be suitable for a wet day (at least, if it rains during the first half of the day). It might be a nice itinerary for tourists who, already, spent 10-14 days in Budapest. This itinerary covers parts of the V and VI districts. Allow 2-4 hours for the National Hungarian Museum and additional 2-3 hours for the 2.5 - 3 km. leisurely-paced walk from the Museum to the Liberty Square. Included, several recommendations (in the itinerary itself AND in the subordinate Tips) on budget (still, quality) restaurants.

Duration: 3/4 day.

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Start: The National Hungarian Museum.

Address: Muzeum korut 14-16, Budapest IX.

Getting there: Metro: M3 (Blue line), M4 (Green Line) Kálvin tér station  OR Buses: 47, 49. Buses: number 9 or 15. Quite close to the Astoria Metro station as well. A short walk also to the Central Market Hall and Vaci utca.

It is a 300 m. walk from Kálvin tér: Head north on Kálvin tér toward Kecskeméti utca, 60 m. Turn right onto Üllői út, 30 m. Turn left onto Kálvin tér, 25 m. Continue onto Baross u., 30 m. Continue onto Múzeum krt., 150 m.

Opening hours : Mondays - closed. Other days: from 10.00 to 18.00. 

Prices: adult - 1600 HUF, Students (betwen 6 – 26 years of age) and Pensioners (between 62 – 70 years of age): 800 HUF, 20 % discount with Budapest card. Children under 6: free.

Orientation: Make sure you devote a couple of hours to this museum. The museum resides in an impressive, imposing neoclassical building, built in 1847. Exhibits trace the history of the Carpathian Basin from earliest times to the end of Communism. The museum complex is rather complicated to navigate due to the many chambers and rooms, some of which have no English IDs. Don't miss King Stephen’s crimson silk coronation mantle (the Crown Jewels are on display in Budapest's Parliament). Another must-see relic of the museum is the piano that used to belong to Ferenc Liszt and Beethoven (can be seen in the permanent historical exhibition). Other highlights include Celtic gold and silver jewellery, a huge 2nd-century Roman mosaic and memorabilia from socialist times. Unbiased and thorough treatment and exhibitions relating to some of the less comfortable periods of Hungarian politics and history such as the days of the Warsaw Pact and World War II. Straight forward and open-eyed treatment of these periods  - allowing the visitor to form his/her own conclusions from the fairly and openly presented facts. The exhibits are very well presented with good explanations in English and Hungarian - BUT, the later you move into modern 20th century history: Arrow Cross, German and Soviet occupations rooms  - there is no more English signage and translations. In these parts of the museum - invest in an audio guide if you can't read Hungarian. There is also a cloakroom where you can leave coats and backpacks free of charge.

Permanent Exhibits in the Hungarian National Museum:

  • History of Hungary from the Foundation of State up to 1990.
  • Modern and Contemporary History.
  • Scholar Hungarians who Made the 20th Century.
  • On the East-West Frontier – History of the People of the Hungarian Lands from 400 000 BC to 804 AD.
  • The Coronation Mantle.
  • Medieval and Early Modern Lapidary.
  • Roman Lapidary.

History: It is the oldest public museum in Hungary. The museum's present building was built between 1837 and 1847, and it stands as a great example of Neo-Classicist architecture. Founded 200 years ago, the museum is dedicated to the history of Hungary and today it remains a symbol of Hungary's national identity.

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The garden, surrounding the National Museum, is a beautiful green spot in the center of the city. There are a few statues of prominent Hungarians who made contributions to the arts, science and literature, along with some beautiful townhouses, built by the aristocracy in the 19th century, overlooking the garden.

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The most impressive monument is that of writer János Arany, who is best known for his Toldi trilogy. The monument, created by Alajos Stróbl, is located right in front of the museum. It shows Arany seated atop a pedestal which is flanked by two main characters of his trilogy: Rozgonyi Piros on his right hand side and Miklós Toldi to his left:

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Museum Interior - one of the main halls:

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The main stairway:

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Gold death mask found in the graves of the 10th century Hungarians who settled in the Carpathian Basin originated from Magna Hungaria, the Uralian territory of the Hungarians:

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Crown of Monomachos:

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Tomb of a Transsylvanian count:

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Sculpted wooden choir benches from the Late Gothic and Renaissance periods:

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Ottoman Turkish Carpets:

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Albrecht Dürer -Emperor Sigmund:

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Maria Theresa 1740 - 1780:

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Hungarian Aristocarcy 17th Century:

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Caricature on the Bolshevik regime of Béla Kun in Hungary 1919:

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Miklós Horthy governed Hungary from 1919 until 1944-5:

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Hungarian People's Republic from 1949 until 1989:

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You can extend your visit in the museum into a short walk in the near surroundings. It is a 0.5 km. walk to Gutenberg tér (Gutenberg Square). Take the NORTH side of the museum, Bródy Sándor utca. Head east on Bródy Sándor u. toward Pollack Mihály tér, 500 m and you face Gutenberg tér:

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The main attraction, in this square, is the Gutenberg-Otthon, a building that is well documented and in the past years more and more is restored to its former glory - but the facade still needs a restoration. The building is located at the Gutenberg tér 4. This is on walking distance of Metro 2 stop Blaha Lujza tér. In 1905 the plot for the building was purchased by the Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization. The purpose was to design a building that would contain both apartments, offices and shops of the organization. The contract for the design finally was awarded to the József and László Vágó brothers, whom had the difficult task to design a building that both would serve as an office, containing shops and which also generated revenues from the rental of apartments. It was not completely illogical that the Vágó brothers were asked to design the building: The printing industry and bookstores were in majority owned by Hungarians of Jewish origin and therefore the contract for the design also was awarded to a Jewish architect. The lowest two floors were once used as offices, shops and a coffee house. These 2 floors are, nowadays, both empty and in poor condition. The apartments are located above it. At the time of the opening, the building included, originally, 38 luxury, large, apartments. These were gradually transformed into more apartments so that the population of the inhabitants doubled. Also at the right wing of the courtyard a mini floor was added, something that is common for several buildings in Budapest. Originally the building had both a freight and residents' elevators for the tenants. Nowadays, there are 2 regular elevators. The courtyard is partially covered and contained, originally, a large theater that was also  used for other activities. This theater still exists but is no longer in use and lacks a part of the original ornamentation. In 1948 the independent Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization was nationalized by the government. After the Communist period the building was again owned by the Hungarian book printers and typesetters organization, but they were not able to handle it financially. Since that time the building is owned by an union of its tenants. The building had passed several restorations - including the years 1944, 1970 and 2001. The period 2001 - 2009 was the most significant period during which the building was restored to its former glory. Thus, in particular in the period from 2002 to 2009, all destroyed stained-glass windows were replaced with new ones with the original design. The fence in the stairwell, which once was painted black, was stripped of the paint which makes the details of the opal color of the flowers visible again and they are still striking. Once 2 statues stood on the roof , nowadays only the pedestals remained. The front / sides of the building, originally, contained paintings after a design by the artist Károly Kernstok. Above all, we see an impressive building that has a very playful facade with a mixture of rectangular and arched windows, 3 bay windows and a unifome layout. Also striking are the small balconies scattered over the facade. The Gutenberg-Otthon building has, unmistakably, Jewish influences -both, externally and internally. If you look closely you can see the Jewish Menora returning in the ornamentation on the facade. Today, the original shops and office floors are empty and are very neglected. Also the appearance of the roof has changed because there are windows placed for the apartments just under the roof. BUT the building general design and appearance are, still, unchanged. Several famous Hungarians have lived in this building, including the architects Ödön Lechner and József Vágó. Around the time of the construction of this building, the square was still called Sándor tér. It was changed to Gutenberg tér only in 1946.

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Facade ornamentations:

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The typical "Vágó birds" element:

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The former theater in the courtyard:

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The present courtyard:

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View on the right side of the Gutenberg-Otthon courtyard:

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Balconies:

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The stairwell:

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The restored stained-glass windows:

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Head north on Gutenberg tér toward Kőfaragó utca. See Tip below on  the Fulemule Etterem (restaurant) in the middle of Kőfaragó utca , on your left (south). You walk westward in Kőfaragó utca, 120 m. Turn right onto Gyulai Pál u., 290 m.Note the Budapest Klauzál air Reformed Church ("Gyulai Pal u. Church") in Gyulai Pál utca No. 9:

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Turn left onto Rákóczi út, 25 m. Turn immediately right onto Nagy Diófa u. (Big Walnut Street), 400 m (you cross Dohány Street on your left and right, next, cross Wesselényi St, later, Klauzál tér on your right, and, at last, you cross Dob utca). Continue straight onto Klauzál tér, 90 m. The Klauzál tér (or Klauzal Square) was the largest square in the former Jewish quarter of Budapest. Located in the seventh district, it was the heart of the city's old Jewish quarter. The original name of this square was Stephans Platz. After 1874, it was known as István tér. In 1907, the square was named after Gábor Klauzál (a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Trade during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 in the first government of Hungary). A theater opened in the square in the year of 1872, but was destroyed in an 1874 conflagration. A shopping hall (market) opened in 1897, in the place of former theater; this was the third shopping hall in Budapest:

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Entrance to the closed market on Klauzal ter. A modern supermarket took up the place of the original market. Very few vegetable vendors during the day, however the grilled meat buffet is very popular around noon. A busy flea market operates on Saturday mornings. That’s all what remained of the classic grocery market hall where you could get smoked goose thigh, and kosher food stuff:

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Interesting details on a building at the corner of Klauzal Square:

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Curious about the dishes Hungarian families ate in the '70ies and '80ies ? Then visit Kádár Étkezdébe, Klauzál tér 9. (simple, good restaurant near Klauzál Square (see Tip below). Continue onto Kis Diófa utca, 190 m. Immediately on your left, as you start Kis Diófa utca, is the Kisuzem bar with good food and cool atmosphere. Very popular with the locals, Mainly, in the weekdays evenings.

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Turn left onto Király u., 40 m. Turn right onto Vasvári Pál utca, 160 m. On your right, in the middle of Vasvári Pál utca is the Szász Chevra Lubavicsi zsinagógamore or Lubavicsi synagogue, Vasvári Pál utca 5.  

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Turn right onto Paulay Ede u., 20 m. (note the Salsa club sign). Turn left onto Hajós utca, 550 m. First, you cross Andrássy út on your right and left. Next, you cross Lázár St on your left only. Then, you cross Ó Street on your left and right (Zubrowka cafe' on your right) (Imázs thai, japán és sushi étterem /restaurant on your left). Later, cross Zichy Jenő Street on your left and right. The pink-colored Opera Garden Hotel and restaurant on your left. The last street you cross is Dessewffy St, (on your left and right). A small drinking-water fountain on your right. Before you arrive to the end of the road - note the Art Nouveau building, on your left, at  Hajós utca 32. Built: ca. 1903-1904. Architect(-s): Malnai, Béla. It is one of the most special early Art Nouveau buildings in the city. But, the state of the building is very bad. This certainly applies to the façade but also in the stairwell and udvar (courtyard) which is clearly visible. The use of sunflowers in the ornamentation took mainly only place in the first 7-8 years of the Art Nouveau era in Budapest. The metal ornamentation, just under the roof, also indicates that it is a (very) early Art Nouveau building. According to sources the property would date from 1903-1904, but a bit earlier is not impossible. It is a is relatively small and shallow building with a minimal udvar (courtyard) which gives access to the second stairwell at the backside. Also the main stairwell is narrow and lacks an elevator.

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In case you want to try a menu which offers a mix of Hungarian, Russian and Azerbaijan dishes - enter the Marquis De Salade, on your right at Hajós St 43 (into the basement). The restaurant serves various traditional Azerbaijani dishes, including shish kebab, lule kabab (made with ground lamb), yarpag dolmasi (stuffed grape leaves), badimjan dolmasi (stuffed eggplant), many kinds of plov (rice pilaf), ajab sandal (roasted eggplant, tomato and bell pepper with lamb), dushbare (a soup made with tiny dumplings), piti (a hearty lamb stew) and soyutma (roasted lamb pieces). The chef's specialty is a salad called "Sudaba Khanim":

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‎Turn right onto Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, 75 m. Turn left onto Báthory utca, 220 m. The street is named after Stephen Báthory Transylvanian prince ( 1571 - 1586 ) and Poland King ( 1576 - 1586 ).First, turn RIGHT until you meet Alkotmány utca. Look at the pretty buildings in the cross-road (29 Hold St.):

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Then trace back your steps and return 350 m. SOUTHWARD along Hold utca to meet the Hold utca Market or Belvárosi Piac / Inner City Market (a new name after its renovation), Hold utca 11. Opening hours: 06.00 - 17.00 MON, 06.30 - 18.00 TUE - FRI, 06.30 - 14.00 SAT. Hold utca market is a central market in Budapest. It offers vegetables, fruits and other grocery products as well as it has quite a few small eateries, buffets, bistros offering good, inexpensive food for the many office people working in the area. The new market’s aim is to attract more and more farmers and greengrocers from the countryside to come and sell their fresh, tasty produce and products to the city dwellers. As a result of the refurbishment, all buffets/bistros moved to the gallery. The original, 19th century details were preserved during the refurbishment works.

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At 4 Hold St. stands the Budapesti Postatakarékpénztár (Budapest Post Office Savings Bank) built between 1899 - 1901 and designed by Ödön Lechner. One of the most beautiful buildings of Ödön Lechner. Many spots, elements and ornaments in this building - remind you of Gaudi works ! Most of the decorative details cannot be viewed from the street. The building is now owned by the National Bank of Hungary - externally freshly renovated. Here and there still seems to be a staging or scaffolding area that cannot be approached from all sides. But, if you are able to recognize the details behind the obscuring trees - you'll see bees, beehives and birds ornaments on the building sides. Ödön Lechner was asked why he hides these elements and replied: "The birds will see them":

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Note, also, the ground floor of the Hold utca 6 building with its wrought iron masterpieces and beautiful corners of the gates with the sun motives:

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Szabadság tér or Liberty Square is immediately WEST to Hold utca and you can cross directly to the square. If you continue until the most southern end of Hold utca and turn RIGHT to Szabadság tér road - you'll see, in the corner the imposing building of the Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank), Szabadság tér 8-9. You can enter this building from a side entrance (Bank utca) and take a breather into the Bank's ornate lobby (AC) which looks like a 5-star hotel lobby:

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Szabadság tér or Liberty Square is described in the "Budapest - Circular route: from Deák Ferenc tér to Erzsébet tér" blog.

Food

Múzeum Cafe (Muzeum Kavehaz es Etterem), Múzeum krt. 12 is just a few steps from the National Museum. Open: 12.00 - 24.00, Sundays and public holidays - closed.

First-class dining. It is one of the top-rated restaurants in Budapest that focuses on traditional Hungarian cuisine with a modern touch. The interior features some great art work: a Venetian mirror, hand-carved wood paneling, Zsolnay tiles, painted ceiling by Karoly Lotz. Elegant, posh almost fancy setting. A pianist entertaining the diners. Not cheap. Excellent food for special, personal events. Plentiful portions. As a special experience: try the duck breast cooked with a strawberry sauce. A classy spot with great value. Do not come with casual dress.

Hungarian Specialties: 2900 HUF - 3400 HUF. 

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Food

Fulemule Etterem / Restaurant, Kofarago utca 5, Budapest:

Tucked away restaurant with JEWISH-HUNGARIAN  FOOD: honey chicken with rice, carrots, and plums, goose legs, goose liver with eggs, Bean Goulash / Cholent, Jewish beef stews, chicken paprikash, soup with Matzo balls, hummus, paprika cottage cheese with red peppers, potato pancakes topped with sour cream and cheese, pancakes filled with chopped walnuts, honey and sultanas with a delicious chocolate sauce, fried Matzos with nuts, apples and cinnamon and chocolate sauce for dessert, etc'.

Very good and filling portions. a bit slow nostalgic-paced service. Reasonable prices (main courses 2000 - 5600 HUF). Pretty good-old-fashion feeling with tons of familial photos of the owners.

Open: SUN – THU 12.00 – 20.00,
 FRI – SSAT 12.00 – 23.00.

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Food

Kádár Étkezde, Klauzál tér 9., VII. district. Trams 4, 6 Király utca stop.
Open: TUE - SUN: 11.30 – 15.30. closed on Sundays and Mondays. Classic old-style restaurant in the heart of the former Jewish quarter, serving NON-kosher Jewish food. Good, cheap food. Home cooking. Generous portions. Service is attentive and friendly.  Only part of the menu is in English. You share your table with other (hungarian) customers and you order just pointing at other customers' dishes...  If you can brave the sometimes very long lines, come on Saturday to try the sólet (cholent) which has been cooked for so long that the beans are almost caramelized. Otherwise, the stuffed peppers with sweet tomato sauce are good, as is the stuffed cabbage. There’s just one dessert prepared daily, a homestyle cake like vargabéles (pasta and strudel cake) or aranygaluska (yeast-raised “golden dumplings”). Celebrity photos line the walls, and you pay the proprietor, standing by the door in a white coat, as you leave:

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Hungary

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