Based on street-plates, Budapest is the city of men. Just take a ride on any public transport vehicle and you’ll be overwhelmed by stations that were named after famous Hungarian men. However, our history is full of famous women as well, let they be rulers, amazons or talented actresses. Our readers seemed to really like the previous article so we decided to put together a part 2 with the choices of funzine.hu and our additions.
Empress Elisabeth, mostly referred to as Sisi, was the wife of Franz Joseph I. She played an important role in Hungarian history, because the famously beautiful empress was the first to show real interest in Hungarians after long centuries. The whole nation loved her and called her the “Queen of the Hungarians”. According to rubicon.hu, she lived a troubled life in the royal court, and spent the last years of her life mourning for her deceased children. An Italian anti-Habsburg anarchist assassinated the queen in 1898. Her unexpected death shook the whole empire, and Hungarians wanted to honour her memory with naming several streets, squares after her, mounting statues and establishing parks. Sisi embodied the female ideal, the painful motherly fate and the fight for freedom at the same time.
Mari Jászai was one of the most celebrated Hungarian actresses, the dame of the National Theatre and the greatest Hungarian tragedienne. According to szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu, reading her memoir is still fascinating today. Even though she was known to be a man-eater, she wrote that she had never found a deserving partner neither on stage nor in life. Nonetheless, the reason she gained incredible fame was due to her captivating acting. Contemporary critics already praised her for her most famous roles as Gertrudis, Eve and Antigone. The square found at the Pest bridgehead of Margaret Bridge commemorates the actress.
Most people don’t know that the square was named after a significant historic formation. It was named after the 32nd home-defence infantry regiment, which was appointed by Queen Maria Theresa in 1741. The formation remained the main regiment of the capital city until the end of WWI. Maria Theresa, one of the longest reigning and most prominent Hungarian rulers, initially set up the regiment to stop the Prussian troops marching towards Vienna and Prague. The famous saying of the Hungarian orders “Vitam et sanguinem!” – “Our lives and blood” (for the Queen) – can be connected to this diet. Another curiosity is that the close-by Horváth Mihály Square was called Maria Theresa Square for a very long time.
The actress born in Győr under the name of Malvin Wollner studied at the Hungarian Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She left it after two years at the invitation of Mór Ditrói, the director of the newly opened Vígszínház. Irén Varsányi played in several Hungarian silent movies but her real career was on stage. In the beginning, she shined in comedies, but then switched to the female characters of Chekhov. She was the member of the theatre until her death and was also one of the most prominent actresses of the time.
The street found in the Castle District wasn’t always called Anna. It was called Milk Street (Tej utca) in 1484, while two hundred years later, after the reoccupation of Buda in 1686, it was named Dama Gasse (Lady Street). It’s kept its feminine feature ever since. The street and the classicist-baroque-gothic houses received the Anna plate in 1879. The street was most probably named after the Princess of Antioch, Anna Chatillon, the wife of King Béla III. Both of their tombs can be found in the near-by Matthias Church.
Featured image(s): Wiki Commons