07 Jun The Most Comprehensive Map of Budapest’s Street Art
Budapest, already known for its bohemian atmosphere, electric nightlife, tasty cuisine and laidback cafe culture attitude, is now becoming known for something new – it’s fantastic street art scene, fueled by the work of local and international artists popping up on just about every spare wall the city has going.
So far, no one has mapped where visitors can find all of the murals, so we’ve gone ahead and created one – a comprehensive map of Budapest’s street art and a guide to the scene as a whole.
Street art and mural map of Budapest
Street art scene of Budapest
Budapest’s street art scene grew out of the ad hoc and rather mischievous efforts of local artists. With a city gentrifying around them, they saw a growing number of courtyards surrounded by ugly bare walls and decided to bring a little life to them.
So impressed were locals with the new color added to their daily life, instead of protesting them as graffiti, they celebrated them as masterpieces, and soon, looking out for new ones became a local’s pastime.
Neopaint was one of the first organizations to really support artists and commision pieces, and they brought an air of professionality to the process, attracting talent from abroad.
More recently, the Színes Város has come to life, funding and commissioning new works each year, and keeping adoring fans in the loop.
Today, murals tend to arrange around diverse themes and styles, and in this article we’re going to look at three essential topics (Murals reflecting on Hungarian culture, history and urban lifestyle) in more detail and introduce you to some examples.
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Murals reflecting on Hungarian culture
Hungarian culture is an interesting beast, developed over more than 1,000 years and influenced by the different civilizations and empires that have laid claim to the country over the years. Hungary is also known as a country that has produced great innovation over the years, with many mathematicians and scientists, for example, producing ground-breaking work here.
Celebrating the people that have made Hungary so vibrant is one of the prevailing themes you’ll see in murals across the city’s walls.
The Rubik’s cube mural
Invented by Hungarian Ernő Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube is a simple toy that has entertained millions over years. In Erzsébetváros you’ll find a tribute to this in the form of a 3D Rubik’s cube, created from hundreds of radiating and colorful dots. The piece, according to the artist, reflects on the fact that in life “there is always a solution – and not just one” – just like the Rubik’s Cube.
A jarring piece by Károly Mesterházy, aka Carlos BreakOne, this is a colorful mess that hides a Hungarian myth – the white stag, the beast that led Nimrud, the great legendary ruler of ancient Mesopotamia, into the lands that would one day become Hungary.
What does being Hungarian mean to you?
If you’re the inquiring type, this may be a question you’ve asked yourself on your visit here. Indeed, Richárd Orosz asked himself this same question as he searched for inspiration for his mural, and decided to capture, with paint, as many of the items as he could think of that seemed ‘typically Hungarian’.
The result – a paprika, the famous Rubik’s Cube and a chessboard – a game popular with old men who sit in the hot baths all day long. More cryptic is the bow and arrow facing the mirror. Here the artist wants to say, “if you hurt someone else, you hurt yourself” – a nod to Hungary’s difficult history.
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Murals reflecting on Hungarian history
We mentioned the 1,000-year history and the endless conquering, right? Yeh, no one could say that Hungary’s history was a boring one – a fact that’s given modern day artists plenty of historical periods from which to draw inspiration from.
Portrait of Angel Sanz Briz
As you step into Dob street in the Jewish Quarter, you’ll notice a colorful, almost cubist mural sitting above a restaurant on a firewall. It depicts a man on a surreal, brightly colored background. The mural by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel is dedicated to Spanish diplomat Angel Sanz Briz, who saved as many as 5000 Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust in 1944.
The mural in the former Jewish Ghetto was supported by the Spanish embassy in Hungary to commemorate the man sometimes known as the “Angel of Budapest” or the “Spanish Schindler.”
Man of the year
The revolution of 1956 was a pivotal event for the city. Although citizens didn’t succeed in overthrowing Communism completely, they won key reforms that left Hungary with a far more liberal environment than many of its neighbors.
The Man of the Year mural is a simple copy of the Boris Chaliapin’s famous Time Magazine cover from the event, and commemorates the freedom fights as noble heroes.
Once upon a time, Hungary was good at football – really good, in fact. Öcsi Puskás and his “Golden Team” were stars of the era, finding victory on the field against whomever they faced. No win was more memorable, however than their 6 – 3 defeat of England – and this is what this mural remembers.
Arranged as a photograph, news clippings, and a football, this charming piece serves as a nostalgic reminder of better sporting times for Hungary.
Elisabeth of Bavaria, wife of Franz Joseph I, the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary is a fond figure amongst Hungarians. So popular she is, that there is a whole section of the city named after her – Erzsébetváros (Elizabeth Town).
Over on Rumbach Sebestyén Street, you’ll find a mural depicting her. Striking a pose of elegance and grace, the mural is painted in an old-fashioned style and topped with the names of the streets that make up her neighborhood.
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Murals reflecting on urban lifestyle in Budapest
Moving back to the present day, there are plenty of murals that capture the energy and excitement of Budapest’s urban lifestyle. Fast growing, and popular with expats and tourists from all over the world, the city has much to celebrate.
Sunrise or Sunset
Based on a Hungarian dichotomy “Napfelkelte, vagy naplemente” (‘Sunrise, or sunset”), this piece, right in the heart of the party district, is a map of sorts, giving suggestions to visitors of all that the area has to offer, both day and night.
Budapest isn’t so Small
Another map-like mural located on Kazinczy Street, this is more of an anti-celebration of the Jewish Quarter, encouraging people to get out of the district and explore the city a little. While the party district may seem big to newcomers, put in perspective to the rest of the city as it is done here, you’ll soon be itching to explore.