Recently we had the honour to collaborate with Marriott International in the celebration of the breathtaking architecture of Budapest. They picked some great examples like the Parliament, the St. Stephen’s Basilica or the Vigadó, and we provided them with quirky stories – you can read the article here! I really enjoyed this work, and it gave me the idea to show you the less famous wonders of local architecture: the apartment buildings. They were picked quite random from my last photo walk, but they are nice representatives of the thousands of unique houses of Budapest. So here we go!
First of all, those facades. Yes, some of them are crumbly and grey, but every year more and more of them get a facelift. The 20th century was not kind to them, first the war, then communism and the revolution of ’56 left its mark, but these days we see a wonderful revival!
They come in all styles, some are more creative then others, but they fill hundreds of streets, and thanks to them you can walk for hours and hours and always feel like you are in a magical place. Don’t be afraid of leaving the touristy areas!
This house above has some hidden (stone) bats and brilliant mosaic details, and it is located in a tiny street where nobody goes except those living there. It’s one of the many beautiful gems you can see if you take a Neighbourhood Tour with us in the 11th district, the South of Buda.
The next building, featuring the mosaic of the Four Seasons (starting with spring on the left), is less hidden, but still many wouldn’t notice: just turn around when you are facing the Great Synagogue! And let’s hope that they clean up the not so creative street “art” from the side. Can you believe that people actually live here and it’s not a museum?
Let’s step closer! Many of the doors have so beautiful details… The carving and the ironwork is fabulous.
Every door handle could tell millions of stories…
This little thing above in the shape of a flower was a hole to check the visitors before opening the door. Nowadays you can just push the buzzer from upstairs, more convenient, right?
Let’s step inside now! The entrance hall of these buildings can be very surprising indeed.
The old tiles are simply fascinating, and sometimes the choice of colours is really brave.
Let me show you one more example of these tiles, and this time include my feet. I suspect that in the era when they built this building, showing your naked toes like this would have been immensely shameful.
After the entrance hall you arrive to the courtyard. It is something that you can never tell from outside, but these old buildings always have an open patio in the middle, and most of the flats open from the corridors found on each level. Not much privacy here, but this way they could have more access to sunlight. Some courtyards are big and ornate, others are small and simple – you never know until you walk in, so I encourage you to use every opportunity when you see an open door in Budapest!
The staircase can be the next big surprise: stained glass like this is rare to find nowadays, but not impossible! Most old apartment buildings have two staircases: one was used by the rich owners and tenants, the other one in the back was for the maids and other employees. Of course the latter was less luxurious.
A balcony can be a great alternative to a garden, this one is like an urban jungle! I love it when people treat their balconies the right way.
And then some are lucky enough to have a real garden in the middle of the city. This little green spot belongs to a quite tall building with many levels, even if those are not pictured here.
Check the gallery for some more photos, and join us on a Neighbourhood Tour if you would like to see such buildings off the beaten path!