The old Budapest

The old Budapest

17th November, 1874 was the beginning of a new era in the capital city, when Pest, the country’s booming trade city united with the ancient Buda. The current image of Budapest was similar then, the main buildings had already occurred, and what is more, population of Pest (200,476) far surpassed all other cities’ in Hungary.

Millennium celebrations

New Year’s Eve at 1895 was a special night to the effect that all the bells of the city were pealed at the same time so as greet the millenium by the sounds. Memory of the jubilee has been preserved by many things like special laws or marble tables in the Parliament, not talking about tables, memorials at the frontiers, and statues, celebrations all around the country. The imposing exhibition in the renovated City Park was opened by Franz Joseph on 2nd May. New public buildings were inaugurated: Grand Boulevard was assigned (in its completeness), the first tube-railway was launched; not only Franz Joseph (now Liberty) Bridge was inaugurated, but the Museum of Applied Arts, the Art Hall, the Comedy Theatre also; the foundation-stone of the new royal palace was laid, and they started to build the Museum of Fine Arts and Elizabeth bridge. The first Hungarian shots were made then, during the festivities of the Millennium Celebration. Employees of the Lumiéres recorded the march at the Buda Castle. The first Hungarian cameraman, Zsigmond Sziklai recorded the opening of the Munkácsy Exhibition in the City Park, but these shots have been lost.

The József Eötvös Dormitory was founded in 1895, as a result of the educational reforms by Baron Joseph Eötvös. There were some determined intentions towards training highly-graduated teachers, and such prominents of the Hungarian Science and Arts can be mentioned like Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók, Ernő Dohnányi, Gyula Szekfű, Dezső Szabó and Béla Balázs.

Art Nouveau at the turn of the century

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was in crisis from political and economic point of view, the crisis derived from intellectual duality, and the turn of the century could be characterized by initiatives towards Hungarian culture. Ödön Lechner was an important person for turning the Art Nouveau into a national style, in his works mainly Hungarian folk effects can be seen throughout glazed ceramic tiles, decorative granite components, floral motifs in Indian, Persian, Moorish, and Hungarian style as well. Among the most important features of his works it is needed to mention using Hungarian folk art in decoration; many great public buildings of were left behind, from Slovakia to Transylvania. Famous buildings can be found here in Budapest – based on his plans – like the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts, the Geological Institute, or the Postal Savings Bank building (now Hungarian State Treasury). In the master plans was built in the Arts Museum, the Geological Institute and the Post Office Savings Bank (now the Hungarian State Treasury). Gresham Palace was designed by Zsigmond Quittner and Vágó Brothers, and the main buildings of Budapest Zoo were designed by Károly Kós and Dezső Zrumeczky.

After the Treaty of Trianon

At the end of World War I, Treaty of Trianon made an end of multi-ethnicism in Hungary and strenghtened the linguistic and cultural homogeneity. The dominant Ministers of Culture at the inter-war era were Kuno Klebelsberg and Balint Homan. Between 1922 and 1931, Kuno was developing a popular political system, based on culture. Hungary was in a total economy bankrupt at that time, and it had outdated social systems, so it was time to preserve the chance to life. Kuno believed that the Trianon borders were temporarily, and nations were fighting a so-called ’cultural competition’ with each other, so Budapest could be raised by its having cultural superiority and literacy among European countries. While the ten years of Balint Homan’s being Minister of Culture, he was focusing on the poor but talented children, he regarded becoming intellectual as an important thing. From an ideological point of view, national features and literacy materials were very important, they need to be well.-known in schools.

Stalinist architecture

After World War II, savage Stalinism begun, not only in Hungary but in many other countries as well. In Budapest Socialist Realism appeared, the so-called ‘Stalin-baroque’. The cityscape has changed thoroughly, the National Theatre was demolished, and a remarkable housing program (20 years) was launched in the outer districts. In the capital, shops with simple windows were waiting for the customers, all of them were owned by the state. Although there were many goods in short supply, the trade was continuous. At the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, 23rd October, the center was Budapest. The second half of the 1960’s meant finishing the reconstruction after the war’s damages. The bridges had been rebuilt; the last one, Elizabeth bridge in 1964.

Films of the 1960’s

Hungarian film industry of the sixties could be characterized by conveying passive and active resistance, and it was obsessed with an idea of the power relations and ideologies. A bizarre symbiosis can be observed in films that were based on political crosstalks and symbols, which meant the connection between the public and foulmouthed artists with self-cenzorship, against the boastful state. The most important directors of the era were Miklós Jancsó, István Szabó, Károly Makk – all of them have world fame, their films have been well-known in many European countries.

The happiest shed

After the retaliation, following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the lifestyle of Hungarian society had radically transformed. The number of tourists traveling abroad had increased, more and more cars came into the country. In 1970, the first sector of the east-west subway line became ready for using, and in 1976, the first sector of the north-south line was launched. Hungary became the “happiest shed” among the socialist countries. The explanation of it could be that from political point of view, uncertainty could be felt from the communist leadership; ‘whoever is not against us is for us’ claimed by Janos Kadar.

End of Communism in Hungary

In the 20th century Hungarian history, the 1989-90’s turning point was similar to the 1918-19’s (post-dualism, Hungarian Republic and Horty-era) and the 1944-48’s ones. All the three turns can be characterized by totally changing the system of domination: institutes, existing for many decades, institutions and regulations, both written and unwritten norms, habits had disappeared. With a series of political reforms, the dictatorial one-party system changed to multi-party parliamentary democracy, and many cardinal changes happened with the economy and society as well. With the transition into capitalism – based on the primary state ownership over private properties – had been replaced. However, the penetration of market relations and the economic crisis, after some political changes, eventuated many significant changes in the population’s income brackets and in the evolution of income inequality as well.

Budapest nowadays

After the end of Communism, infrastructure developments began in Budapest, included the Nagykörút, the Kisföldalatti, the Lágymányosi bridge, the Millenáris or the Infopark. The Palace of Arts recovered, the new National Theatre, the Eiffel Square and the Corvin quarter as well. In 2007, after decades began the construction of the 4th metro line.