In Budapest, there is a festival on every week-end, but for the article’s writer on, has its favourite: the Budapest 100 program series. It has started five years ago made by some enthusiastic young people and this cheerful event is still continuing ever since. In March, the programs which were held in the week-end showed different places which could be entered by public, such as the former telephone center, an elegant store or the building where Liza, the Fox Fairy was filmed.

In 2011, the OSA’s (Open Society Archives) building on the AranyJánosstreet has become 100 years old which used to be the Goldberger’s textile factory financial and designer center. The young workers of the archive wanted to remember the event a little different as the previous years. They did not wanted to organize boring exhibitions and shows; rather, they wanted something which could be interesting not only for the archive workers but to the rest of the audience, too.

Residents first did not understand, why their house is interesting

They had decided to look for some 400 year-old buildings in the capital and they opened it to the public. After they have started looking, they realized that the repertoire is much bigger than they had expected: in that year more than a hundred building had been built and most of them still stand.

They looked for the residential communities, from which most of them gladly approved the idea and in a couple of weeks they have organized the tours of the buildings and the picnics. The preparations happened in a short time and the lack of proper advertisement does not reflect the interest in the programs: thousands have appeared at the open buildings to examine old houses from the bottom to the top and to know their history or to talk with its residents. From this, there were no stopping, this year they have gathered together the list of old buildings for the fifth time.

Even though the organization is more developed than the previous years, the Budapest 100 has remained a cheerful non-profit event. All of the programs are free: to look for the building’s history, to get permission from the residents and to organize the walks are made by more than 200 volunteers.

Sometimes, when a visitor fell in love with the organization, he or she applies as a volunteer next year to spend weeks in an archive to figure out the history of a certain building. The organizers enjoy it, the audience happy and the residents are grateful. The organizers aim is not only to draw attention to the buildings around us but to improve the relationships between residents, and between the residents and visitors, too.

In the beginnings, residents needed to be talked into opening their gates to the public, however, these days they are more involved: they are also collaborating and look for the history of the building or sometimes they make improvised photo exhibitions. At first, they did not understand why their old building is so interesting which had never been lived by a famous people: but sometimes it was enough to convince one person who convinced the others to show around the visitors.

As it is not the same city

On every program it was obvious that the visitors and residents were from various age-groups. The programs vary from concerts to picnics or to fashion shows: this is a true family event where everyone find his or hers source of fun; from the children to the grandparents. Also, it was noticeable that everyone was calm and open. A lot of times visitors had to wait in narrow staircases for their turn but no one were in a hurry or hustle; as if we weren’t in the city, where sometimes we have a life and death struggle for a seat in the metro.

Due to the World War I, a lot of houses has been disappeared for its 2015 jubilee; because of that, the organizers decided to involve not only the houses which were already in the program but also the ones which were not approved it in the first place but they had come around by this time. The ‘hundred year’ is a wide term, anyway, because of the lack of precise recordings,some buildings are registered hundred years ago but some had its foundation stone put hundred years ago or the building’s handing over happened a century ago.

This year’s interest has outdone the previous years. For the most popular walks, it had to be pre-registered and the spots had been filled up in a couple of minutes. There were so many programs that there was a need to a make serious route plan, as it was a plan for the holidays.

From the telephone centre to the court

For the writer of the article, the most amazing walk happened on Saturday morning. It was in the old telephone centre, which is on the HorváthMihálysquare and there used to work 240 postwomen. For some reason, the writer is attracted to the immense, ruined squares which he used to enjoy on his castle tours but he also he found it here.

The staircase is amazing in its ruined condition, even though it would be better, if the former condition would be restored. Unfortunately, for the continuous renovations, hardly were there any architectural element which was original, but there were some Zsolnay tiles, a special window opener, glass wall and windows which were in their original condition.

As in so many walks, visitors could add to the presentation;here, a woman was especially talkative who worked to Matáv for forty years. At the upper floor, in tower room with wall paneling, interestingly, she remarked ‘I had never ever seen this’. This phone centre has been empty for a couple of years; however, the new owner plans to open a hotel in the building.

The institute on the Fümei street 19/a is one of the special buildings which serve its former function to this day. The building of the Central Administration of National Pension and Insurance was a challenge for two reasons: one, the lot is not at all standard; the other reason is that they had to make place to a various functions in the building. Because in the beginning, apart from the offices, there were reception rooms and hydro institutes, too.

The walk was introduced by Nagy Sándor, the Pension Office worker; he has been involved with the building’s history in the last couple of years. From the rooftop we could see the building’s tower, too, which first floors had to be dismantled in 1969 because the tower’s pillars were made of aluminous cement and its stability was declined year by year.

Unfortunately, in 2002 the paternoster had broken but visitors enjoyed the storytelling and there were a little document paternoster in work. Another interesting fact is that in the old tower apart from the archives, there was a serious safe in which the National Health Service documents were being held.

For the Budapest 100 week-end, the Fő street 70-78 had also opened its gates where the Nagy Imre trial had happened. Here, the atmosphere was somber; the visitors didn’t take any picture, but they took a picture from us. We did not regret this tour because we got a review of the trial and some other interesting facts. One of the workers had told that singing from the prison was overheared in his office when the prison mates has celebrated a birthday and they were singing ‘legyenmégsokilyenszépnapod’ (Let all your days be as nice as today’s). Today, the following institutes are in operation here: Hungarian Institute for Forensic Sciences, College of Criminal Tribunal for the Capital’s Military Council and the Buda Central District Court Investigate Team.

From Lisa, the Fox Fairy to the Pál utcai fiúk

On Sunday morning, we had started the day at the building where Lisa, the Fox Fairy had been filmed. I had respected the volunteers’ job before, but then, I had to acknowledge their through work here. They had searched in the archives, looked through previous advertisements, talked to people in the pension club, they had talked on Skype with former residents who now live abroad and I could continue the list of their enthusiastic efforts.

They had also looked up in which films appear the same surroundings and they had opened a coffee shop which otherwise is closed, to be able to show us. All of this they had done in their free time and to tell this for a couple dozen visitors. The article’s writer thinks this is the reason this event is so lovable.

The Rákóczi street building used to give home to the former Otthon department stores where a resident showed us around, from the basement to the attic. The department store which was crowded and lively now is deserted and ruined. However, the special inside is till amazing. The visitors had been nostalgic about the former state of the department store: they had remembered where the chandeliers and rugs used to be, who bought what to their homes. It seems that this building also has a future because an investor has dreamt that he will open offices in the upper floors and a supermarket in the ground floor.

We had already visited different buildings and ended the day at Práter street. Here, neither we had any walks or crowd but the visitors got balloons, raspberry juice and a projection: In the small cinema, visitors could watch the Pálutcaifiúk.

The author of the article thinks that the motto of the festival is appropriate: ‘all buildings are interesting’. Any building they had entered they found something beautiful and interesting. The writer thinks that if he has never travel anywhere, he still could spend his time thinking back, because Budapest has so many hidden gems that there is no end to it. He thinks the capital has got such a festival which not only shows Budapest’s hidden gems but also brings the residents closer to each other. This festival’s two days gives so many experiences that can be remembered for weeks.

Based on the article
Translated by Andrea Tóth


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