All you need to do is take a big walk in Budapest, and you will be able to tell stories all night long about what happened during your little trip in the city. Usually, there are so many things happening at once in Hungary’s bustling capital that it is hard to keep track of them. It was no different about 100 years ago either.
Magyarországom brought you a total of 6 interesting stories about Budapest from over 100 years ago. These stories show very well what life was like in the capital around the turn of the 20th century.
Yes, you read that right, there was a bullfight in Budapest, real Spanish style. It was held between 11 June and 14 July in 1904 in a temporary arena at the drained lake of Városliget (City Park). For the occasion, Spanish toreadors were invited. At first, only a couple of people were interested, but at the end, more and more spectators came, but due to a serious accident and concerns of animal rights, the event was never arranged again.
If you think about Margaret Island, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely not the slaughtering of a pig, even though it is a tradition in Hungary. People usually remember this place by the beautiful panorama, the fountain, and many good-weather leisure programs. However, about 100 years ago, there was a pig slaughter held on Margaret Island. It was organised by none other than Gyula Krúdy, a great Hungarian writer who lived there between 1918 and 1930. By the way, do you know how the island in the middle of the Danube got its name? If you want to know, check out this article:
The famous noon bell toll became a tradition after the triumph at Nándorfehérvár on 22 July in 1456. Tolling the bell at noon has a long history, but there were times when it was arranged a little differently. At the turn of the century in Buda, this tradition at noon was not signalled by a bell toll, but by a shot by the caretaker in the yard of today’s Toldy Ferenc High School.
Before the coronavirus, you would hardly ever fit on the first trams, buses, or subways in the morning without being squished on the busy public transportation, let alone find any empty seats. However, just after the turn of the century, in 1903, a decree quasi abolished the concept of standing on trams in Budapest. Only as many people could travel on the tram as there were seats available. It is almost unimaginable in modern days.
It was a good thing that everyone had sat enough on trams because, at the beginning of the 20th century, people who wanted to sit on a public bench in Pest had to pay for it in order to be able to do so. Those benches were owned by Sándor Buchwald, an iron and metal furniture manufacturer. Employees who were nicknamed ‘Buchwald nénik’ (~Buchwald aunties) walked from bench to bench so that they could collect the fee from everyone.
Although this dates back a little further than 100 years, it is definitely worth mentioning. In 1873, when the three cities of Pest, Buda, and Óbuda were merged together, the newly formed city was almost renamed Pestbuda, but evidently, they decided against it.