Budapest 100, Celebration of 100-Year Old Buildings – 5-6 May 2018
Motto: Share the Square!
Venue: at 100-year-old buildings around town, as advertised on Budapest100.hu (available in English and Hungarian)
Budapest buildings – we all know they are astounding. Think St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Parliament. Or even old residential buildings. When you look at your pics after your trip, they have a tendency to steal the show. But did you realize there’s a festival to celebrate 100-year-old buildings? Free guided tours walk you through their history of buildings to mark their 100th birthday, make sure you take part if you’re in town in early May!
100-year-old buildings. A bunch of them.
Budapest100 is a spring weekend celebration of the buildings around us. This relatively unknown gem has made it to the Europe’s best arts events list in the Guardian, and is a big favorite with history or architecture-loving locals. The event was founded in 2011 by the Open Society Archives and the KÉK Contemporary Architecture Centre (both known for their cool exhibitions, workshops and projects), and grows in scope and popularity every year .
The idea is simple: the organizers look up each year the houses turning 100 years, and recruit volunteers to offer free guided tours (some of them in English) and organize events on a beautiful spring weekend. The goal is to bring together people of various backgrounds, to celebrate the beautiful history of the city together.
Why celebrate Budapest buildings?
To understand why hundred-year-old buildings are such a big thing in a city with such a rich history, we have to go back in time, to the end of the Second World War, when Soviet forces were fighting retreating Germans in the region. Hitler regarded Hungary as inferior to German-speaking lands, and gave orders to defend it to the last men – to buy time for Germany.
This is why the Battle of Budapest is sometimes referred to as “second Stalingrad” – a gruesome, seemingly endless siege, house by house, that wreaked havoc on not just the residents of the city, but also its buildings. The houses that still stand are the lucky ones that escaped destruction. Of these, this original spring festival celebrates each year the ones turning 100.
A special edition of the event a few years ago commemorated the so-called ‘yellow star houses’ in the city – these were the houses, marked with big yellow stars, where Jewish families were forcefully relocated in 1944.
Maverick Hostel: over 100
When you sleep in Maverick Hostel on Ferenciek Square right by the Danube, it’s fun to think about how the building is even older than 100 years. The Habsburgs (the Austro-Hungarian royal family) built it – it was designed in 1899 and finished in 1902, getting the name Royal Tenement Palace (Királyi Bérpalota). Emperor Franz Joseph visited the building site several times in person. It originally had 24 apartments plus 12 stores on the ground floor. In 1917 the Habsburgs ended up selling the building due to dire wartime straits. Some of the residents have lived here for a bunch of decades – they can attest that the history attached to this place is beyond comparison!
History besides buildings
If you like history, you might also be interested in the regular English language exhibitions offered at the Open Society Archives (one of the founders of the Budapest100 event): you can go to their exhibitions for free; they currently have one on samizdat (secretly copied and circulated materials passed from person to person, banned by communist countries), where you can check out how these ‘subversive’ materials were made and distributed. (32 Arany Janos street, near Arany Janos utca subway station on the blue metro/subway line 3).