Hanging out in Óbuda, eating a túrós csusza...

At the pier of Árpád bridge (Buda side) there is a small square surrounded by a charming little quarter of town, which is frequently sought for by Budapesters when they want to escape the city hubbub for a while, or want to discover a place where the atmosphere of old times still lingers and can be found.
Developing dynamically during the past decade and easily accessible via suburban railway H5, the so called Old Quarter of Óbuda has become a phenomenon which cannot be overlooked when we are speaking about must-see places in Budapest. It has achieved to preserve old traditions (like the quark cheese noodle dish indicated in the title which is still available in most of the local restaurants) and meet modern demands and expectations at the same time.

This quarter around Szentlélek tér had already existed in the era of the Roman Empire. Vestiges of that epoch can be seen nearby at Aquincum ruines, one of the largest archeological parks in Hungary.
At the 17th century the quarter belonged to the aristocrat Zichy family, they built the magnificent mansion whose garden is now a popular open-air bar called Kobuci kert. In the 19th century the residence was taken over by the state and nationalized. Today it accommodates the Vasarely Museum and the Kassák Lajos Memorial Museum, the former dedicated to the oeuvre of Hungarian-born Victor Vasarely, founder of the op-art movement, while the latter exhibits the works of writer and painter Kassák Lajos, a prominent figure of the Hungarian avant-garde. 

Sadly the communist era pushed aesthetics into the background and emphasized efficiency, also there was a population boom after the Second World War and more apartments were needed. So it is that many ten-storey concrete buildings were built which deteriorate today the panorama of Óbuda, but thanks to the local community, at least this small area has been saved for future generations in its original beauty.

Today this quarter is well-known for its cultural life, which makes it worth visiting in all seasons, as we are always bound to stumble upon something interesting. Prestigious events draw visitors from other districts to Fő tér, such as the Day of Óbuda in May, the open-air concerts and the Blues Festival during the summer, the Wine Days and celebrations of grape harvest in autumn, while winter brings the delightful Christmas Fair with an ice rink for skaters. In colder seasons don't forget to pop into Esernyős, a Café and a community centre at the same time, and also an info point where you can gather all the lowdown about Óbuda. Its name is due to the group of statues next to the building, The Waiters, Imre Varga's work inspired by Parisian prostitutes. The local slang simply calls it 'Esernyős', indicating the umbrellas in the statues' hands. As the weather gets warmer, Gázlámpa Kioszk opens in the middle of Fő tér, the smallest new-wave café in town, awarded the best pop up café in 2016. The statue of Szindbád sitting in front of Szindbád Közösségi Iroda is also worth taking a look at, he is the hero of Krúdy Gyula's short stories, a modern, urban sailor of the early 20th century, conquering women's hearts rather than the Seven Seas. The author's house now accomodates the Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism at nearby Korona tér. Though a bit further away, Kiscell Museum is also a place of interest, presenting the 18th-21st century history of Budapest and of its inhabitants. The building itself is a luxurious baroque mansion, and the variety of the museum objects gives the visitor an insight into the constantly changing life of the Capital.

So, as we see, if (like Szindbád) after enduring many storms, we are washed ashore here on the Danube bank, we can thank our lucky stars. Either we are absorbed in discovering the past in the museums, or getting acquinted with the present at the friendly main square, or dancing our feet off at Kobuci kert, it is absolutely sure that we'll be having a good time. And sometimes we need nothing more than sitting quietly with a drink and enjoying the good vibes of Óbuda as the evening closes in.

(6 pictures)

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