The ‘Ruin Pubs’ of Budapest

Budapest has a long and colourful history; it was originally formed by bringing together three separate towns or areas. PestBuda and Óbuda were the original districts of the city. But as the city grew so did the number of districts, now totalling 23. One of the most diverse and interesting of these districts is number seven. The seventh district was for many generations the home to a mostly Jewish community.

After the end of the Second World War, which reigned destruction down on this part of the city. The seventh district became a near ghost town and suffered decades of total neglect by the city government. But as sometimes happens in these abandoned parts of cities new life began to emerge.

ruin pubs in Budapest

In comes the ‘ruin pubs’

This new injection of life blood came in the form of ‘ruin pubs’. These are bars that have seemingly appeared out of nowhere to brighten up this derelict area on the “Pest” side of the mighty river Danube. This area is still very much rundown, but the ‘romkocsma’ or ruin pubs are attracting not only locals but also large numbers of tourists to the slightly unusual backstreet areas to the rear of The Great Synagogue

Although this has been a very much locally led renaissance. There is no doubt that the foreign weekend break crowd has contributed considerably to the new and vibrant bar scene. One of the great charms of the area is that each of these pubs is very unique although there are common similarities that link the bars together.

The basic recipe seems to be located in an abandoned building. Hopefully with an adjoining cleared demolition site, which will become home to an outdoor seating area. Here you will find picnic tables and a makeshift bar and a great vibe. The decor at all the bars all seems to have been collected from the same charity shop. This perhaps does not sound very inviting, but is all part of the very cool scene in this area.

Cheaper than a night out in London

The pubs tend to have gathered together a furious mix of Berlin club chic and the Munich Beer Festival. Many offer DJs or great live music, mostly at weekends, as well as other less usual activities. At different times you will be able to watch a classic cult movie, or perhaps the pub will be turned into an art gallery or bicycle racing track for the evening.

Although the above sounds somewhat seedy, that is not the case. In fact one of these establishments “Szimpla Kert” was voted the third best pub in the world in 2012. This venue has multiple rooms which at weekends can be host to hundreds of visitors. There is also a very large open-air garden space for the warmer months.

Pub Crawl Budapest offers free drinks, multiple bars, power hours, VIP entry and a wander round the Ruin Bars – check them out if you’re after a super sociable night in Budapest!

Nagy Diófa utca, is not exactly a catchy name but it is an interesting pub to visit. It boasts an inner courtyard, which is better described as a jungle, due to the huge number of plants. There are small areas which have been created as a very intimate spaces. This means you can you can be very much involved in the bar, but still feel that you are alone in the corner.

Another popular ruin pub is Fogas haz, this bar opened its doors in 2010. There had been several failed attempts to keep the doors open previously. But now it seems the new proprietors have the formula just right. This pub is also a cultural and community centre heavily involved in the gentrification of the area.

The official Budapest site lists many of these interesting and unusual venues including. Koleves kert which roughly translates as Stone Soup Garden, is a restaurant. Well, in this area is the sort of restaurant, is also a kind of open-air pub with its highly coloured garden chairs. This is a much favoured hangout for the local ‘ in crowd’ But being the seventh district the “in crowd” on any one night may include, students, members of the nearby dance Academy, and children who have brought their parents along with them.

With just this little taste of the seventh district you can see that even if you only have a couple of days in Budapest. This would be a very interesting place to spend an evening.

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