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(This Neighborhood Guide was done by Mindspace)
Central but still solidly conceals its values from classical mass tourism, though it is not easy to resist a slow wandering in the labyrinthine neighbourhood. Palace Quarter shows an authentic, completely unique and distinctive street image of Budapest but also you could hardly compare it with the downtown of other European capitals: the palaces of the aristocracy of the 19th century which today give home to institutions or average citizens, are forming almost an isolated island in the city center. On nicer days, sun shines through among its low buildings and the calm, rather narrow streets which in every few corners of distance extend into well-kept public squares. The center of the Palotanegyed has been placed organically on Mikszáth Square: cobblestoned space, with some seating surfaces and sprawling mini greens, cafés offering light roasted coffee and bistro menus on their terraces. During the day, there are lots of students hanging in the neighbourhood.
A number of internationally known universities located here and also the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, with its classy, spacious reading rooms is at the corner of Calvin Square. Galleries, the National Museum, the Italian Institute, a small theater company, the Uránia Cinema, the so called Jesuit Island or mini Vatican, are the cornerstones of the local cultural ambient. It is much calmer than the neighbouring 7th district and is rather known for jazz or folk concerts. Instead of parties, late night conversations give the base sound which get quiet around midnight. In the city center you can sleep here the longest.
Everydays (for habitats, tenants, owners)
In the quarter, there are probably more cafes, bars and restaurants than shops.
The ones here, are typically smaller offering the most essentials or the home-made, conscious or handcraft products, but on the outskirts there are bigger supermarkets or drugstores, and in the neighbouring quarters there is a market and a plaza. Also on the outskirts you can find the banks, post offices, gyms or yoga saloons etc. The neighbourhood is very much central, so it's easy to approach by any means of transport. The airport is connected by a direct bus service. Inside, however, the complicated connections of one-way streets require a lot of patience from those who care to follow the traffic rules. Parking is also questionable but there is an underground garage in the center. It is relatively comfortable to get around with prams here, and there is a nice, well-kept and safe playground in the center. The dogs are not very lucky for running in green fields, but there are lots of dog-friendly bars and cafés in the quarter.
Before the construction of the National Museum it was suburban area with small houses and fruit gardens. Then the area soon increased its value, and the rural aristocracy constructed their palaces one after the other: "A Hungarian magnate cannot have a palace in Vienna without having one in Pest," they said. The area get populated quickly which also due to the fact that the upper house took place in the museum, while the lower house in today’s Italian Institute on Bródy Street. This area lived tense times and became true historical hotspot on several occasions. The square in front of the museum gave place to the War of Independence in 1948, while the square behind the museum and in front of the Hungarian Radio witnessed the first day of the Revolution in 1956.
The area took on cultural and intellectual atmosphere and characteristics with active local community and civil engagements efforts. The strengthening of the palace quarter identity is mainly related to the Újirány and the CAPE.
Tilos az Á at the Mikszáth Square was a liberal, underground place in the era of the regime change. Frank Zappa also performed here, on the occasion of the withdrawal of the Russian army in 1991. Now the place is named after him. Jean-Michel Verret painted a New York street image on the walls which is still-visible work and the only protected art piece that is located in a catering unit.
Half-day exploration tour (for tourists)
It is worth starting from where the story of the quarter began, at the National Museum. Here, in recent years, the Live Museum program has been launched to offer an active experience of the 19th century atmosphere of the area. But to arrive, it is just as enough to breathe in the air and stories of the neighborhood on the long and broad white stairs of the Museum. Take a round outside starting from Bródy Street
and continue to Pollack Mihály Square
walk to the Museum Stree
, t and see the old palaces here: Old House of Representatives, Tauffer Palace, Festetics Palace, Károlyi Palace just to name a few. The Almássy Palace at Ötpacsirta Street 2 has a one of the most attractive inner courtyards of the neighbourhood, with its creeping plants, cobble stones and its yellow, glass roofed stairs, it is gigantic and intimate at the same time. At the corner of the street, the romantic garden with its semi-circular stone benches belongs to the Palatine Palace. Take a seat in the classy and spacious rooms and leather armchairs of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library for a minute or pass a few hours reading books or magazines.
In the cobbled Reviczky street you can walk down for a lunch at Mikszáth Square, which is the center of the quarter. Here, in Zappa Café you can look at the protected New York wall painting or try the Lumen Café's self-roasted coffee. A number of small, authentic Italian bistros opened in this neighbourhood too. From Mikszáth it is worthwhile to visit two rather smaller and intimate squares. At the corner of Lőrincz Pap Square there is a neo-baroque building, the builder of it made here a honey warehouse and tavern in his time. Across you will see the church of the Jesuits that forms part of the so-called Jesuit Island.
Guttenberg Square is just a few minutes away, it is said that it didn’t became traffic junction thanks to the trees that are growing on it ... in the middle there is a shady playground
, and on the opposite corner a coffee stand and an ice cream car. The Guttenberg home is one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Budapest. It is worth a short walk to the Uránia Cinema at the Rákóczi út to sense its Arabian-Moorish atmosphere.
On the roof terrace, the first consciously directed Hungarian film, the Táncz was filmed. The scenes of the era’s star ballet dancers of the Opera House got destroyed unfortunately, which is a sad note to the Hungarian film industry. Today, next to art films they screen classic opera or theatre performances and many documentaries.
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