Budapest: the Jewish Quarter

Dohány Utca Synagogue

A wet morning saw us heading for the Jewish Quarter and Dohány Utca Synagogue – the largest in Europe (capable of accommodating over 5000 worshippers) and second largest in the world after the Temple Emmanuel in New York. Tours in various languages were available, chosen by sitting in a pew near the appropriate flag. We tried this, but it was so noisy we couldn’t hear the guide so we just wandered about ourselves.

In an adjacent building is the Jewish Museum full of beautifully crafted objects and some lovely stained glass. Unfortunately none of the items on the first floor were labelled, though a special exhibition upstairs was much more informative. Given these defects, we spent a much shorter time in the synagogue and museum than I expected.

The way out took us through the cemetery and Heroes’ Temple. The former is there because the Nazis forbade Jews from being buried anywhere else. The domed temple dates from 1931 and was built to honour the 10,000 Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Hungary in World War 1.

Behind the temple and cemetery is Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, named after the Swedish consul who saved 20,000 Jews in World War 2. It also commemorates others who helped Jewish people such as Sir Nicholas Winton. Very moving.

It was still raining, and still not quite lunchtime, so we visited the very quirky Museum of Electrotechnology. John liked the big machines (no idea what the one below is) but I loved the more domestic details such as the Philips reel-to-reel tape recorder. This is exactly like the one I had as a teenager. I would put the microphone up to the radio and record the charts from Alan “Fluff” Freeman’s Pick of the Pops on a Sunday evening. Often, the music would be overlaid by the dog barking and other noises-off, but it was the best I could do. Da da da da-da dah, da da da!

Still raining – time for a beer! Budapest is famous for its “ruin bars”. Originally nomadic, springing up in condemned properties and moving on when evicted, many are now static and commercialisation has set in. Szimplakert in the Jewish Quarter is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, and famous for having part of an old Trabant in the courtyard. Cheers!

Finally, time for lunch. I had set my heart on the café at the New York Palace, but there was a big queue. We managed to get some snaps of the ceiling before leaving.

Serendipity led us to Macesz Bistro. I wasn’t hugely impressed that the veggie option was lasagne – I’ve had too many awful ones over the years – but it was still raining hard and we didn’t want to wander too far, so in we went. This turned out to be the best meal of the whole week (and the only one I photographed). The lasagne was made with matzo instead of pasta and was absolutely delicious, as was John’s duck. Wonderful!

There is much that is picturesque in the streets of the Jewish Quarter, but most of the photos below were taken on our way home on a different day (as you can maybe tell from the blue sky).

John took a reflected selfie in one of the pedestrianised streets.

There were several murals – this was my favourite. If you can enlarge it, you will see a man working on the roof, a window cleaner, a couple on their balcony and this cat.

Finally, we knew this was a school (iskola) but weren’t sure if it was still in use. I’m still not! The best English-language explanation I can find is from a geocaching site: “The Erzsébetváros Primary and Secondary School, situated on Dob Street, can justifiably be named as one of the most beautiful educational institutions of Budapest. The building, originally constructed in 1890, has been modified many times throughout its history, the mosaic ornaments of its facade were installed following the plans of artist Zsigmond Vajda.” Just gorgeous!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a brief tour of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. Next time – a final visit to the Buda side of the Danube.

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48 thoughts on “Budapest: the Jewish Quarter

  1. maristravels June 5, 2017 / 13:02

    I never got to see the Jewish quarter when I was in Budapest (there is so much to see, isn’t there?) but your Post has taken me there and shown me what I missed. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 5, 2017 / 13:18

      There is always so much more to see! And not enough time, ever.

      Like

  2. Pit June 5, 2017 / 15:16

    Thanks, Anabel, for taking me around with you, and have a wonderful week,
    Pit

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hilarymb June 5, 2017 / 18:33

    Hi Anabel – Budapest certainly entices – fascinating areas around the Jewish quarter – Nicholas Winton was an amazing man, while Wallenberg really pushed the barrier out helping Jews in WW2 – poor chap …and for us not to know how he died – sounds really horrible.

    Lovely architecture and no doubt beer … Electrotechnology museum looks interesting – quirky but fun … wonderful place to visit … while your lunch looks delicious too … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 5, 2017 / 21:50

      I expect he’ll be too busy these days! (If it’s the same son I’ve just read about.)

      Like

      • edgar62 June 5, 2017 / 22:29

        I’ve just had a look through the Hungarian photographs and they seem to have spent their time in Churches, visiting Roman Ruins, monuments and museums and a cruise on the Danube. He went with Trafalgar Tours.

        Like

  4. the eternal traveller June 5, 2017 / 21:16

    I’ve heard many friends say Budapest is a wonderful city to visit and your posts have confirmed this, Anabel. There are so many interesting places to see. We’ll get there one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Birgit June 5, 2017 / 22:12

    Love the art nouveau facade on the building in the last pictures. It would be wonderful to eat in that place but who wants to wait that long…glad you took pictures though. This must have been a beautiful trip. Love to see the Jewish synagogue and the tribute to Raoul Wallenberg who I have admired since I was a teen. I read a book about him and watched the miniseries with Richard Chamberlain in the lead….it was quite good actually.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 5, 2017 / 23:32

      The school building is amazingly beautiful. I don’t remember that series, maybe we didn’t get it here.

      Like

  6. Donna June 6, 2017 / 01:07

    I love taking these virtual trips with you, Anabel!
    The wetness of the first photo adds to its richness!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Blue Sky Scotland June 6, 2017 / 02:05

    I wonder if they have an ‘eruv’ around that district? Something I only learned about recently as they have one in New York stretching for nearly 20 miles and constantly maintained, A fishing line strung around the Jewish Quarter there that allows them to keep faith during their Sabbath- that really amazed me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blue Sky Scotland June 7, 2017 / 01:26

      Found a list of cities online with eruvin that answered my own question. No it doesn’t :o)
      Manchester has one though and London has loads.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rosemaylily2014 June 6, 2017 / 03:35

    Interesting post Anabel – takes in a few places we didn’t get round to seeing on our trip in 2014. Our daughter told us about the “ruin bars” – she obviously went to quite a few on her own travels with friends! Would have liked to see the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park – we learnt quite a lot about him at the Mauermuseum in Berlin last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2017 / 07:36

      I think the ruin bars are probably a young person’s thing! Happy to check out at lunchtime when not too busy – in the evening I’d have been dismayed by the lack of comfy seats….

      Like

  9. Green Global Trek June 6, 2017 / 09:49

    Fascinating thanks for the tour! Matzah lasagne?? Now that is a first!

    Love the bars and the murals. What a lovely outing to share. Thanks

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

  10. BeckyB June 6, 2017 / 11:58

    What a fabulous day despite the rain, and that building is gorgeous. I’m with you on the veggie stuff – whilst I occasionally eat meat at home I nearly always have vegetarian out – and I get so tired of the same old options from lasagna, to risotto to something with mushrooms! Glad yours turned out to be delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2017 / 12:54

      Oh, don’t get me started on risotto! The occasional one is excellent, but more often it’s a bowl of rice with a few flecks of vegetable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeckyB June 6, 2017 / 13:11

        Oh I know! I don’t understand why restaurants find them so difficult. They are one of the easiest dishes to make. Love cooking them especially for my vegan stepdaughter.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann Coleman June 6, 2017 / 19:21

    Thanks for sharing your trip to Budapest! I’d never heard of a ruin bar before (when I first read it, I thought it was a rum bar), but sure sounds like a fun idea. And the museums looked very interesting. I hope to visit there someday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 6, 2017 / 20:27

      I’m sure you could get rum too but at lunch time safer to stick to beer 😉

      Like

  12. Su Leslie June 7, 2017 / 00:12

    Thank you for sharing your trip. I’d be happy to forego those fabulous ceilings for the food you had too.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ms6282 June 7, 2017 / 08:49

    I think there were quite a few of us trying to tape (illegally!!) the top 10 on a Sunday evening

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 7, 2017 / 09:13

      Yes, I’m sure there were! I’m not sure how much I actually listened to the results though, as they were so hissy.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. restlessjo June 7, 2017 / 17:00

    Loved this post, Anabel. You see lots of Budapest but I don’t recall much of the Jewish Quarter, and I really like looking around a synagogue. It looks fascinating throughout- even the lasagna 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) June 7, 2017 / 17:11

    Ugh, no labels on an entire floor of a museum would drive me nuts! The electrotechnology one appears to have labels at least! And now you’ve got me intrigued by the idea of matzo lasagne…I imagine they’d soften up nicely under all that sauce. I honestly can’t remember having that many lasagnes as vegetarian options though; usually it’s the dreaded mushroom risotto or goat’s cheese tart!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 7, 2017 / 18:11

      I know! I mean, I know a menorah when I see them but a whole case of them needs to be differentiated in some way. Veggie food goes in cycles I think. Stir fry was big at one time.

      Like

  16. Kathleen Jennette June 7, 2017 / 20:36

    It is so beautiful and yet so sad. I have heard how wonderful it is to sit in the temple and reflect. I hope it comes surreal with all that is happening in the world now. We need never to forget.
    Those beer gardens are very colorful and artsy and I love seeing those places. Keep me travelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lucid Gypsy June 9, 2017 / 19:50

    I’ve never been to a synagogue, we have one here somewhere so I should find it. That mural is brillant, hard to tell the real from the art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 9, 2017 / 21:17

      I’ve visited a few synagogues: they are fascinating.

      Like

  18. Jackie June 10, 2017 / 15:06

    I would love to go back to Budapest. I really enjoyed visiting that area as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ellen June 10, 2017 / 15:29

    Matzah lasagne – what a great idea! Love the pictures of the synagogue. You always travel to such interesting places.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy June 12, 2017 / 03:25

    I love it when a bad situation like the food one ends up turning out better than anyone could have hoped! I’m thoroughly enjoying all these pics and tales from Budapest. I’ll be sad to see the posts go!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Liesbet June 12, 2017 / 10:37

    Thank you for the in-depth look of the Jewish Quarter, Anabel. We only walked by the big synagogue and did not wander into the cemetery. We did have a drink in the same ruin bar, which is quite eclectic and very popular. You are right, it was the “first” or oldest one. We spotted the car as well, not knowing it was famous for that bar. We mostly wandered around during our short stay, not reading up about much. I”m happy to see you found some tasty and good food! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh June 12, 2017 / 10:52

      We were there for a week so had time to do more in-depth visiting. Glad you enjoyed your visit too.

      Liked by 1 person

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