The place called Római part - the first rowing race of Hungary
Once you reach the river Danube after leaving Óbuda, you’ll find something like a resort area with a few bars and food stalls, some selling the Hungarian equivalent of fish and chips: fish and chips.You can just about afford a pint of beer (hair of the dog), a large piece of fish, a couple of bits of bread each and some pickles. The fish is cooked in a breadcrumb batter but there are bones in it, so don’t eat it too recklessly. Further along, ice cream, lángos (savoury doughnuts) and palacsinta (pancake) huts will tempt you.
Along the river, a path leads the way past hotels that would once have adorned ultra-modern postcards but now sit motionlessly dreaming of the past. Not quite so motionless was the small floating pier, on which we lay peacefully in the sun being violently rocked by the passing boats. If the water really appeals, you can hire canoes, which cope with the waves rather better.
Római Part has its charms: like an old seaside resort that’s just got enough left to keep it ticking over: the river, the sun and the fish being an eternal attraction. It’s a pleasant suburb, where once upon a time elegant swiss style villas and boat-houses stood. Originally Római part was a holiday resort, the centre of lovers of the water sports, like canoe and rowers. There were three free beaches for the swimmers, and fans of sunshine, which were closed by 1973. Also the first rowing race was held here in 1843 (!) won by Adam Clark (designer of the iconic Chainbridge (!). At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries there located only 23 boat houses, but plenty of inns and restaurants waited for the hungry and thristy people.
Tram in the garden – the lost tracks of Zugliget
Tram number 58’s route is definately the most sorrowly missed “lost” tram line in the history of Budapest, mostly because of the picturesque neighborhood it was running in. Zugliget (or Auwinkel as it was called in German), at its outer end, was a noble hillside covered with forests which became a popular pleasure resort in the mid-19th century. People were getting out here to have a nice day in the green, and this generated a call for some means of public transport. Horse tram service of BKVT from the center of Buda to Zugliget was launched in 1869. 27 years later it was electrified. The original terminus - firts was the end of the horsetram line - was located in a nice wooden frame house, which still exists.
By the way, the line had the steepest accent of all the Budapest lines, so after a terrible accident of a runaway car, the vehicles were re-fitted with stronger brakes, and in 1911 the matter went even further: they were equipped with cross-inducing electric brakes - the cars could not run lose on their own. The decay of the line started in the early seventies: the city council wanted to experiment with trolley buses here, so they did not spend money on track maintenance. This led to the worst conditions, so in the first says of 1977 the line was converted to one-track operation. In 1980 the closure of the route became official. Still before, the line was extended, so the building of the terminus lost its role.
The old terminus house still stands. By the seventies it had flats in it, and people were actually living between the two tracks. The downhill track went through the garden of the house, where the children of the inhabitants were playing - for someone who was crazy about those fake wooden trams on playgrounds, I sure envy those kids: they had real trams in their garden!
In memoriam my childhood – where the Train of the Communism’s Ghost whipped
After several years of financial difficulties, the Amusement Park of Budapest, the largest amusement park in Hungary was closed on 30 September 2013. The first permanent funfair on this area was opened at the beginning of the 19th century, (after Millenium Celebrations of 1896), and a century later, an English park was established here too. During the Second World War, many attractions were severely damaged. Only a few attractions that were built at the beginning of the 20th century survived, including the wooden roller coaster and the carousel, both are declared monuments today.
To prevent a relocation or closure the English park and the Fun Fair fused in 1950, not long after the transition to Communism, and this new park took on a new name: “Vidámpark”, or Merry Park. It had about 34 attractions — the big ones being the Cave Train, the Haunted House, Bumper Cars, the Ferris Wheel, the Ghost Train, the Mirror Palace, the Roller Coaster, the Carousel — and was visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
After the democratic transition, the park survived for more than 20 years — but the sorrowful end was inevitable. After last year’s closure, the adjacent animal and botanical park acquired the land, and most of the attractions were dismantled or torn down. Fortunately, some of the historical buildings were going to be saved and remain operational.
Transylvanian architecture married with Hungarian Secession- Wekerle Estates of Budapest
On first impressions the Wekerle Estate seems like an ordinary neighborhood in Hungarian suburbia; one to two story houses, firewood gathered in the back yards and the occasional barking dog. There is no need for the map here, all roads of the Estate converge in Károly Kós Square, a green respite at the centre of this “Garden City” surrounded by examples of Transylvanian architecture married with Hungarian Secession.
The Wekerle Estate is a community in its own right, and even though it’s set inside Budapest’s XIX District, the Estate itself resembles a village in the city, which is precisely the intent behind this avant-garde urban development dating 100-years back. The architects embraced the philosophy of the Garden City movement that swept through Europe at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, where the housing problem for local workers and clerks motivated the construction of the Estate. The Wekerle Estate began life attached to a manifesto, designed to be a self-contained, independent urban commune complete with its own churches, schools, even stretching to a cinema and a police station. Its philosophical concept has been swallowed by the expansion of the city over the decades, but the vision of young architects Károly Kós and Dezső Zrumeczky gave the place its own life. Beginning the project in 1908, through the angled rooftops and wooden gables, Kós and Zrumeczky recreated a slice of Hungarian and Transylvanian rural life in the city.
However, the shadow of the oncoming Great Depression forced construction to stop in 1925. Even though the development was abandoned, the Wekerle Estate was left with around 1000 houses, over 4400 apartments in total, dotting its spider-web street layout. People flocked to this new housing utopia, although government employees were given preference as applicants. In its heyday, young, unmarried clerks and low-level officials filled the neighborhood as its renters.
Károly Kós Square became the heart and the conceptual symbol of the community itself. Its chief architect, Transylvanian-born Hungarian Károly Kós, who was also responsible for the Estate’s radial layout, primarily designed the construction of the square. Back in the early 20th century, the entire Estate even had its own gardening service. The community gardeners were in charge of maintaining the plants, flowers and trees in all the public spaces, but they also branched out to help with the gardens of many of the private residences.
The Garden City concept, by combining urban living with home-grown botany, helped its residents to pay the rent back in 1917. Each apartment had its own fruit tree, and the crop for redcurrant was so rich that renters could earn four years’ worth of rent by selling their crop. Even today, the area is a popular place to live. Its residents respect the Estate’s history, its green space and 100-year-old trees.
Church built on the plain – Aracs
Aracs (today Arača) is a medieval Romanesque church ruin located on a terrace, about 13 km east of the Tisza river bed at an altitude of 80 meters.
The church was built around 1230, when the territory was part of the Hungarian Kingdom. It was robbed and devastated in 1280 and reconstructed in 1370 as required by the Queen Elizabeth, and that’s when the Gothic tower that exists today was, probably, built.In 1417 the church and the setlement came into possession of the Serbian despot Stefan Lazarevic, later falled into the hands another despot, Durad Brankovic, who gave it, as a present, to Pál Birinyi. In 1551 Ottomans burned the cathedral down and it was never reconstructed again. In the end of the 18th century it was a possession of Sissány family.
Excavations - led by archaeologist Péter Gerecse – were organized at the end of the 19th century and submitted to light findings that will greatly enrich the knowledge of Aracs, and simultaneously become the trademark of this place. Aracs soon became the subject of interest and discussion, speculation, and analysis that is largely related to the review and interpretation of characters in one of the broad side plates. To a lesser extent, commented the ornaments on the sides of the same plate. The state takes care of the site, and the Law on Protection of cultural monuments and natural rarities of SFR Yugoslavia and solutions from 16th February 1948 said this: “The Arača-Romanesque church in ruins at Vološinova, county of Begej, AP Vojvodina is considered as national importance monument, and it is placed under the protection of the state with its immediate surroundings.” The explanation further states: "Three-aisled basilica, Benedictine Dalmatian-type built in the XIII century on the foundations of the older building, the church Arača twice destroyed, and preserved until today, have some parts of its massive buildings which can be used for studying the cultural history of our people." More extensive excavation and general protection of sites and conservation-restoration works were performed in the period 1970-1978. Arača was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.
Basilica of Aracs is a three-aisled church, with three semi-circular apses, from inside and outside. The width of the apse in the middle of the ship is about 4.9 m, with a depth of about 2.6 m. The width of the apse side is about 2.7 m, with a depth of about 1.4 m. Organization, relations and dimensions of apses, pointing to the parish church. It is certain that for those who have established Aracs, these places of the world had a deeper meaning, primeval later transpose to the ideas of Christianity.
Retro Budapest - BNV I.
BNV (Budapesti Nemzetközi Vásár) is Hungary’s longest standing and most famous fair and at the same time the only general fair in Central Eastern Europe. The fair is not only the most popular, but also the oldest one, held since 1885. Its traditions are more, than honourable.
The first general fair was held – under the patronage of crown princess Rudolph, son of Sissi – in 1885. As the first capital in the world, Budapest hosted a so called „Mostra” of various consumer’s products between 25th and 27th March 1906 (March Fair). At that time the exhibition was held in the Redout (Vígadó), where in the garderobe’s 225 m2 88 traders offered their goods. Such kind of fairs were organized at that time only in Paris and Leipzig.
The name „BNV” was born in 1925, and by that time the fair was really international. Posters and leaflets were published in 13 languages. In 1930 the number of exhibiors were 1400 on 200 different fields, and the fair was held on 70 000 m2. 400 000 people was curious to see the exhibition! In 1938 the biggest sensation was the TV set of Philips, which everyone wanted to see. BNV’s home was the City Park up to 1974. From this date the fairs were held in Kőbánya, on the field of the present HUNGEXPO.
BNV is traditionally held in September. Entry in my childood was free for the kids, and I did never missed an occasion to go! Mostly fashion shows meant the biggest sensation, but I remember the first LADA 1500 („Zsiguli”) – surrounded by huge crowd of men – from 1975 too, and from somewhat earlier the „american dream”, the Coca Cola, which arrived to Hungary in 1968, and was sold on the BNV in the wellknown tiny glass bottles. The Orion company, producers of radio sets and the first colour TV of Hungary introduced itself in 1960.
Where locomotive runners lived once-upon-a-time
One of the most interesting and special parts of Budapest’s Rákospalota district is the MÁV-telep. The suburb was built by the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV) in the early 1900s for railwaymen. The big art deco blocks of flats were planned in uniform style. Two churches and a market hall served the spiritual and physical needs of the close, tight-knit community. Unfortunately the new M3 freeway cut into two pieces the “telep” (settlement) in the 1980s, but the leafy gardens, narrow streets and nice buildings breathe a special ambience.
The castle’s core is the 13th-century living tower was built by a named Simon (son of Salamon) among the swamps of the Sio river. The name of the settlement (Simontornya, literally Simon’s Tower) originates from here.
The castle has had a number of different owners throughout the centuries, and nearly all of them made some alteretions. First the Lackfi’s in the 14th century built a new gothic wing, altered the old tower, and added an arcaded loggia to the back-front. Supposedly the outer defences were erected also in this period. Following the Lackfi’s it has been owned by Filippo Scolari for a few years. Than came the Garai family, as new owner. After the execution of the last member of the Garai family in 1482, the castle became the property of queen Beatrix, the second wife of king Matthias Corvinus.
The golden age of the castle came under the era of the Buzlay family. Mózes Buzlay, marshall of king Ulászló II brought Italian masters and craftsmen from Buda, improving the castle into a renessaince palace, applying the latest architectural methods of that time. The castle fell into Turkish hands in1545, but during the nearly 150 years of Turkish occupation only minor alterations have been made on the castle. Simontornya - the centre of the Turkish Simontornya Sandjak - was recaptured by Louis of Bayern in 1686. In the early years of the 18th century major alteretions turned the castle into a fortress, thus destroying all reamaining beauty and glamour of the past.
During the revolution against the Habsburgs, led by Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II, Simontornya has became the stronghold of the rebells („kuruc”) in south-west Hungary. The fortress fell to the Austrian army in 1709, and it was housing army troops untill 1717. The castle fortress in the 1720’s was donated to the Styrum-Limburg family, but soon they built a new a castle, and turned the old one into a barn. Ever since it was used for the same purposes by a number of new owners upto 1960, when proper archeological excavations started. After further excavations and restoration works from 1967 on, the castle - museum was opened to the public in 1975.