10 Feb New Murals of the VIII District of Budapest
Take a walk around downtown Budapest, and you’ll notice a colourful tapestry of firewalls covered with murals, stickers, or creative bits of graffiti that add a little spice to the crumbling edifices of the VII and VIII District.
You’ll find most of the painted firewalls and murals in the Jewish Quarter, but head further afield into the gentrifying VIII District, you’ll get the chance to indulge in a spot of urban art exploring.
About Budapest’s Nostalgic Mural Scene
When you explore the VII District or the Jewish Quarter, most of the murals carry an apparent reference to Hungarian culture or something Budapest specific, like the Rubik’s Cube, a giant cover of Time featuring the 1956 freedom fighters, or a map of Budapest.
You won’t need much cultural background to understand the cultural context behind these murals.
However, as you get further away from the tourist hubs, these murals move away from the international gaze. In the VIII district, in particular, there is a street art movement which captures the nostalgia of the Hungarian childhood, with references to Hungarian cartoons from the communist era, like Vuk – a 1980s animation about a little fox, or Vizipók-csodapók, a 1970s series about a wonderous, water spider. So take a walk through Budapest’s alternative street art scene and learn a little about the stories of these new murals of the VIII District.
Take a trip down the lane of Hungarian childhood nostalgia, with this vast firewall depicting the beloved cartoon fox, Vuk. The mural by group Színes Város (Colourful Group) captures the likeness of the iconic orphaned fox who became immortalised in the series which aired almost 40 years ago.
Vuk has firm roots in Hungarian culture, especially as it’s an adaptation of a classic book by István Fekete. The series ran for six seasons and even got a release in the US as the Little Fox.
More Vuk and Macskafogó
Vuk mural. Photo: szinesvaros.hu
Vuk makes another appearance in the VIII District, on the firewall of a 600 meter and 14-storey high block of flats. Each character occupies a frame on a painted strip of film, adding colour to this once grey housing estate.
Macskafogó (Cat City). Photo: szinesvaros.hu
On the other side of Szigony street 8, another animated classic gets its wall, with an adaptation of the poster for Macskafogó, Cat City, an iconic animated film from 1986 which even made it across the Atlantic to the US and Canada.
It was entered as Best Foreign Language Film in the 59th Academy Awards but didn’t get picked as a nominee, but that didn’t stop the famous feline animation from reaching legendary status.
You won’t need to go far to get more nostalgic street art. Next to the firewall featuring the cute little red fox and his friends, you’ll spot the cartoon cast of Szaffi. Also from the mid-1980s, Szaffi was an animation based on the 1885 book, The Gypsy Baron, by celebrated writer Mor Jokai.
The story became a Johann Strauss operetta, and then became a loved cartoon featuring the original operetta in its soundtrack. It’s a cute romance about a Hungarian aristocrat who falls in love with Szaffi, a Romani-looking Turkish girl in the 18th century.
Vizipók-csodapók translates as Water Spider – Wonder Spider, and you can catch a glimpse of the little critter (although not so small when painted on a firewall) on Leonardi da Vinci street. The playful arachnid starred in a 3-season animated TV series that ran from the mid-70s to mid-80s, and you can see the wonder spider with his best friends, the water snails and crusader spider.
A Nagy Ho-Ho-Horgász
Head over to the playground on Auróra street for another cartoon. A nagy ho-ho-horgáasz, which translates as the big ho-ho fisherman, is an iconic cartoon from the 1980s. You can spot a famous little character from this series on the banks of the Danube, with the tiny statue of the Főkukac by Mihály Kolodko. However, here on Aurora street, the little worm makes an appearance with his angling buddy.
It’s very easy for street and mural art to look homogeneous across the world. Still, the great thing about these new murals in the VIII District is they are rooted in Hungarian popular culture and do more than brighten up a once-gritty part of town.