As a young child, many of us were told: ÔÇťLook where you are going!ÔÇŁ. To be honest, there is something to that. Most of us just do our routine and never look down onto what we are walking on, even though it might be worth paying some attention to. When you walk the streets of Budapest, although very stunning, not only the fa├žade of buildings can be beautiful. Sometimes the real gems are hidden in plain sight. If you step into a building, you step into a different world every time, and if you pay attention, you might notice the tiny mesmerising details that make it unique and beautiful. Some of these details, such as beautiful tinted windows, are very colourful, but the next most colourful things are usually paved floors.

According to PestBuda, the jewels of Budapest’s old apartment buildings are often the floor coverings. As you enter the capital, you enter the world of timeless foyers, staircases, and hanging corridors. They can come in a variety of patterns and colours, and they are often more than 100 years old. In addition to the accentuated fa├žades, spectacular courtyards and railings, it is worth paying attention to these paved floors as well.

The three most common types of cladding are ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ, ÔÇścement slabÔÇÖ, and ÔÇśmettlachiÔÇÖ.

ÔÇśTerrazzoÔÇÖ and ÔÇścement slabsÔÇÖ are the same size, most often 20×20 centimetres, the difference is that the surface of the latter is not sanded. In the case of ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ cladding, we can also find examples of cast and ones that are made up of tiles.


The history of ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ goes back to the 15th century when Venetian marble workers decorated the terraces of their own homes using the leftover debris in the mine. They embedded the pieces into a binding agent and then polished it in a way that the graininess of the stones remained visible.

Mai Man├│ House Outside
This building is highly ornated even from the outside Photo:

In Budapest, you can mostly find ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ tiles of black, yellow, and red patterns embedded in a light base colour on which the year of the construction of the building can often be seen. Due to its special and unique patterns, it gives a varied decoration, it is extremely timeless, and because it is gap-free, it is easy to clean, therefore it is understandable why they used it in so many buildings in the capital.

A good example of this is the ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ flooring at the entrance to the Mai Man├│ House. At the gate of the building, which was built in 1894, the inscription ÔÇťSalveÔÇŁ (Be greeted) can be read in the flooring at the entrance.

Mai Man├│ House Gate Floor
The entrance to Mai Man├│ House from the inside. You can still see the inscription at the front. Photo:

This building is one of the best-preserved buildings of the era, and it functions as a photography gallery.

Interestingly, Mai Man├│, who ordered the building to be built, worked as an Imperial and Royal Court Photographer, and he operated his residential house as a studio as well.

Mai Man├│ House Outside Facade
The mural and the statues are visible on the facade Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Fred Romero

It was built in the Neo-Renaissance style, and if you look closely at the fa├žade, you can discover the figures holding cameras in the mural. Interestingly, it is not visible from the outside, but there are a total of eight floors hidden in the seemingly tiny building. Today, Mai Man├│ House, also known as ÔÇśThe Hungarian House of PhotographersÔÇÖ, is operated by the Hungarian Photography Foundation.

The technique of ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ tiles is very similar to the cast version. Their surface is also polished, their pattern has a graininess to it, and they are similar in durability and design. However, due to the fact that regular square tiles were easily made in great quantities, they were cheaper.

Sacred Heart Jesuit Church in Budapest. Photo: Országalbum / Hozsu

Such a technique can be found in the Sacred Heart Jesuit Church in District 8 on Mária Street. The church, operated by the Jesuit order, was built between 1888 and 1891 based in the Neo-Romanesque style. The black and white Anjou lily-patterned floor tiles go from the foyer all the way to the sanctuary, and the cladding goes well with the interior decoration of the church.

The tiles go from the entrance to the altar Photo:
The tiles go from the entrance to the altar Photo:

Cement Slab

The ÔÇścement slabsÔÇÖ are pressed, unpolished stone pavements originally from Southern Europe. Their surface is smoother and more uniform than ÔÇśterrazzoÔÇÖ, and their pattern is extremely varied as it changes from country to country. Concerning this cladding in Hungary, two names need to be mentioned as the factories of J├│zsef Walla and P├ęter Melocco were the main source of supply of this construction material, and you can see their products in many parts of the country.

They made materials for state and private orders. J├│zsef Walla’s products appear inside the Parliament, the Royal Palace, several aristocratic palaces and fairgrounds, and even in train stations.

In recognition of his merits in the field of manufacturing, J├│zsef Walla received the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph in 1904.


The ÔÇśmettlachiÔÇÖ cladding is a few centimetres smaller than the other two, usually 17×17 centimetres. It consists of hard, fired sheets, and its surface is smooth and glossy. It originates from France.

Párisi Udvar Outside Night
The Páriszi Udvar during nighttime Photo:

The best example lies in the P├írisi Udvar (Courtyard) in the Brudern House in the heart of the capital. The tiles were originally made by Villeroy and Boch but have been remanufactured since. Here, in addition to the ÔÇśmettlachiÔÇÖ tiles, you can also see mosaic elements and glass brick inserts.


The residential and office building at Ferenciek tere originally operated as the headquarters of the Downtown Savings Bank. The building you can see today was designed by Henrik Schmahl, who won the tender for the bankÔÇÖs new headquarters in 1907. When Schmahl designed the building, he took into account the history of Mih├íly PollackÔÇÖs building that was previously on the plot.

Párisi Udvar Hall
A hall in the passage of Párisi Udvar Photo:
Párisi Udvar Corridor Floor Tables
The passage of Párisi Udvar Photo:
Párisi Udvar Corridor Floor
The reception of the hotel at Párisi Udvar Photo:

The building, which had a French-inspired passage surrounded by stores, was referred to by people as the ÔÇśP├írisi-h├ízÔÇÖ. Schmahl saved this aspect and transferred this function to the ground floor in his new design.

Thus, the oldest passage of Budapest can be found in that building, and it now shines in its old glory.

There are many types of floor coverings, and each type comes in many variations. There is a plethora of different adornments and shapes of cladding. Oftentimes these unnoticed canvases of art are replaced by austere ceramic tiles, but luckily, in Budapest, many of these claddings are original, and they stood the test of time.

There are also other details here that are worth paying attention to.

Párisi Udvar Wall
Beautiful carving on the wall in Párisi Udvar Photo:
Párisi Udvar Ceiling
An adorned part of the ceiling in Párisi Udvar Photo:

Next time, when you go into an old building, keep an eye out for details that the designers put into it to make it their own, and do not forget to check out what you are standing on as well.

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1 comment
  1. Educational article.
    Compliments to author – Peter Licskay.
    When you are a resident of Hungary, and you reside in District V of Budapest, the mass amounts of buildings, glorious and magnificent, in there architectural design and appeal, that have a story, there building, why they where constructed, there purpose, and there HISTORY, through the periods of change, that have occurred, in there existence, but answers, to there building, are “veiled” of not available, it is frustrating and disappointing.
    There is a MAJOR communication problem, that previously, in comments I have expressed.
    To research and find the History of buildings in District V – facilities and availability of resources to research the construction of buildings, translated into English, or produced for language conversion from Hungarian, is in need of URGENT updating.
    This is the position, from my experience, that dominates ALL the Districts of Budapest, when you wish to enquire or research the HISTORY of buildings.
    It is not selfish, that I don’t read nor write Hungarian, and that I expect English be available on all that I choose to research, but the low percentage, of language translation facilities, in this category of buildings – there History -by districts, is in need of upgrading and improvement.
    Walking predominantly, my way of life in Budapest, not a day passes, that I look at a building, and ask the question, what is it’s History – Why was it constructed – it’s purpose.
    It is a great opportunistic time for a person or persons to take seriously, what the subject of my comments refer.
    The future – they the Tourist will come again sooner than later, and to have available communication and information, possible walking guided tours, to promote the magnificence and beauty of our Budapest, is worth EXPLORING.
    Stay Well – ALL.

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