28 Feb Budapest – A City of Recycled Beauty
Budapest is a truly beautiful city, and what adds to its unique charm is that so many of its most stunning spots have been created out of the old and abandoned – recycled if you will. In this post, we’re going to take you on a tour of some of them and tell you about their history.
The ruin pubs
Szimpla kert ruin pub. Photo: budapestflow.com
Ruin pubs are one of the things the city is most famous for. Their name is derived from their origin. They are literally built in the ruins of old apartment blocks, furnished with salvaged furniture and decorated with the work of young, local artists.
Anker’t ruin bar. Photo: designweek.hu
You see, back over a decade ago, some young entrepreneurs were looking for a nightlife scene more to their taste, and stumbling upon the long-neglected Jewish Quarter, they found dozens of abandoned buildings and decided to buy one. Szimpla ruin bar was born, became popular with locals, then tourists, and soon an industry was born.
Today the area is unrecognizable – once deserted, it is now packed every night of the week with people jumping between popular ruin pubs like Anker’t, located in a cavernous concrete space, Fogasház, a former denture repair factory.
Street food and community gardens
Karaván street food courtyard. Photo: likealocalguide.com
As well as abandoned buildings, the Jewish Quarter has an abundance of empty lots where old buildings used to stand. Some have become car parks, but others have been more creatively repurposed.
Karavan, just a short hop from Szimpla ruin bar, is now a popular street food spot. Complete with a seating area and covering in case of bad weather, you can now find an array of food trucks selling all manner of local and international cuisine, with an atmosphere that feels akin to a house party.
Community garden in the Jewish quarter of Budapest. Photo: facebook.com/kisdiofakert
Another space was transformed into a community garden. Közösségi kertek provides gardening opportunities for almost 800 city residents and has become a real community hub, attracting enthusiasts from all over to attend informal workshops and events that are held there.
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From firewalls to street art
Street art in the Jewish district. Photo: budapestflow.com
If you find yourself in one of these empty lots, do yourself a favor and look up. Depending on where you are you might be treated to the sight of a spectacular wall mural – for there are quite a few to be found in the Jewish Quarter, particularly around Kertész and Kazincy Street.
Originally the ad hoc efforts of a band of local artists, things have matured and their work is now a celebrated and much-loved part of the local visual tapestry. In fact, so popular are the murals, that the Színes Város brings local and international artists together each year to create 6 new ones each year. If you want to find a few, here is a guide we wrote.
Bars and cultural centers in recycled spaces
Pagony gardan and bar . Photo: facebook.com/pagony1
With plenty of old buildings, those looking to create concept places had lots of options – and there are plenty such examples in Budapest.
Pagony, next to the Gellert Hotel on the Buda side of the river is a bar where tables and seating are placed inside the outdoor baths of an old spa complex.
A38, a popular bar, concert venue, and restaurant lives in the shell of an old Ukrainian steamboat that’s moored permanently on the banks of the Danube. And Corvin Club is a trendy rooftop that sits atop and mostly-abandoned department store.
Trafó, now a contemporary art space, also sits in an amazingly restored former electrical transformer building, and Jurányi is a café, art gallery, and a theatre, that calls an old school house its home.
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Recycling in design
Product artists, too, have got in on the recycling trend, turning trash into treasure so to speak, and giving visitors some really interesting souvenirs to take home.
Balkan Tango makes an excellent line of wallets and bags from bicycle inner tubes, while Medence csoport does the same with old advertising banners. And if you’re a sucker for home accessories, then check out Bakelit Design, who turn discarded trash into cool clocks and jewelry.