Budapest is a unique city in Europe. It is the capital of Hungary and has some of the most impressive monuments of the continent, as the Parliament or St. Stephen’s Basilica. Today we want to show something that is somehow hidden this city, the Jewish quarter of Budapest.
The history of this neighborhood is fascinating and tragic. On the one side it is the world’s second largest synagogue and on the other side it was a ghetto where the Jews were forced to live during World War II and the Holocaust.
Surely you know that Budapest is a city made up of Buda and Pest, two cities divided by the Danube river. The reason for this separation is that Buda and Pest were independent cities until they became so large that they had to converge in one city. The Jewish quarter of Budapest is on the Pest side, that is, on the east bank of the Danube.
The easiest way to arrive is walking along Karoly Street, near the main railway station in Budapest. It is officially known as District VII, although anyone can help you if you ask about the Jewish Quarter. If you continue down Karoly Street then you will find the huge Dohány synagogue.
Dohány Synagogue is the world’s second largest after one located in United States. This synagogue in Budapest was built in the nineteenth century and has many visitors. Not for nothing, Hungary was one of the countries that took more Jews in.
Just behind is the Heroes Memorial Temple, which is a tribute place for the dead Jews in World War II. This space was used to place the Tree of Life, a metallic weeping willow containing the names of many Jews killed in WWII.
In the same place is located the memorial cemetery for the victims of the Holocaust. Among those Jews buried we find Miklós Radnóti, one of the best Hungarian poets who was killed despite not practicing this religion and marrying a Christian.
Nearby is the Jewish Museum, mainly dedicated to Judaism history in Hungary. The fact is that there were more than 200,000 Jews in Budapest in 1910, a very important part of this city until they were persecuted and many killed.
The Ruin Bars in the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter is still pretty lively, as one of the neighborhoods where to find the best bars and pubs. Moreover many of them are unique in Budapest. We are talking about the ‘ruin bars’. These are gigantic pubs built up by some residents of the neighborhood in 90. Some of the best ‘ruin bars’ are Puder, Szimpla or Filter.
The government was in crisis, so it sold entire buildings to a few young people at a very low price. They had the fantastic idea of collecting a lot of junk on the street to decorate the bar. So if you walk into one of these bars, you can sit in a car split in half, see umbrellas hanging on the ceiling or an old bicycle stamped on the wall.
We finish this post with a chilling picture of the famous ‘Shoes’ found on the Pest side of the Danube.
A visit to the Jewish Quarter of Budapest will give you a new perspective on a central part of the city and an important part of the history of its population.
Photos: David Thibault, Laura Aitchison, Jaime Silva and Javier Delgado.
A tribute visit to the Jewish Quarter | Budapest was last modified: March 24th, 2015 by