Erzsébetváros

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Erzsébetváros coat of arms, Copyright Fekist. “Queen Elizabeth took the name of our district 125 years ago. The anniversary was stated by Erzsébetváros Municipality.”

Erzsébetváros (Elizabeth Town) is the more formal name of District VII of Budapest. It’s on the Pest side, in the heart of downtown. The inner half was historically the Jewish quarter. During the German occupation of 1944–45, several of its streets formed part of the Budapest Ghetto. This part of the ghetto was the large ghetto, for people without protective papers enabling them to live in protected Yellow Star Houses.

In addition to the beautiful Dohány Utca Synagogue, Erzsébetváros is also home to the Rumbach Utca Synagogue (Status Quo Ante) and the Kazinczy Utca Synagogue (Orthodox). They’re all within the same couple of blocks. Non-Jewish landmarks include New York Palace, Gozsdu Udvar, Magyar Theatre, and a former tram depot.

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New York Palace, Copyright Mark Ahsmann

The New York Palace opened 23 October 1894 on Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút), and is home to the New York Café, which was frequented by the élite of the Hungarian literary world. It was built by the New York Life Insurance Company as a Budapest office. Predictably, it was damaged during WWII, and closed under Soviet occupation. It’s now a luxury hotel under the management of Italy’s Boscolo hotel chain.

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Magyar Theatre, 1897

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Szent Erzsébet Church, Copyright cseharon, Source Indafotó

From about 1900 to 1970, Erzsébetváros was very densely populated, with many working-class inhabitants and immigrants. The population has been on a sharp decline since 1970, though like many downtown areas the world over, it’s begun a process of gentrification. Hipsters love it. When historically working-class neighbourhoods are gentrified and hipsterised like this, it really screws over the people who lived there before it was hip and cleaned-up. They can’t afford the raised rent and general price of living.

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Kazinczy Utca Synagogue, Copyright Diana, Source FlickrSynagogue

Another landmark of interest is the Klauzál Air Market Hall, which was built in 1897. This shopping plaza offered over 300 shops and kiosks at its height. Though it was in the Jewish quarter, there was also non-kosher food sold. In 2014–15, it was refurbished, and is open seven days a week, from 7 AM to 10 PM.

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Copyright 12akd

Gozsdu Udvar (Courtyard) is a complex of seven buildings and six interconnected courtyards, built in 1902. It once was home to many Jewish shops and small synagogues, like a small city within a huge city. Though the character of the complex has changed, it’s still a bustling place. It contains many shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. There are also regular art shows, fairs, and concerts, as well as a weekly Saturday vintage and craft market.

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Copyright Globetrotter19

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University of Veterinary Science, Copyright Thaler

My characters Eszter Kovács and Jákob Gerber spend a long weekend in Erzsébetváros in July 1945, lodging at an abandoned house the Soviets gave to survivors. They’re trying to find information about Eszter’s two oldest sisters, Rebeka and Lea, who went to Budapest with false papers and disguised as Christian peasants shortly after the German occupation in March 1944.

While strolling along Dohány Utca, they run across a woman who lived with Rebeka and Lea in the ghetto. Initially, this woman was unnamed and only appeared for this one scene, but when I took this book out of hiatus, I named her Mrs. Goldmark and made her into an important secondary character. When Eszter and her friends move to Budapest in early September 1945, Mrs. Goldmark treats them like her own children, hosts them for holiday meals and birthdays, and arranges day trips and picnics.

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Former Israelite Deaf-Mute Institute, Copyright Attila Terbócs, Source Pasztilla

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Former Arcade Bazaar, Copyright Globetrotter19

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5 comments on “Erzsébetváros

  1. debscarey says:

    As many other posters have mentioned on previous posts, I’ve never had the good fortune of visiting Buda or Pest. Your posts – so filled with historical detail and wonderful photos – make my desire to visit even greater. Thank you :o)

    Bunny and the Bloke

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  2. Tarkabarka says:

    I lived right next to the Magyar Theater for a year 🙂
    Also, it’s technically “Our district took the name of Queen Elizabeth.” There was recently a satire campaign from the Two Tailed Dog party that was titled “Elizabethtown is for Elizabeths!” They proposed that only people named Elizabeth should live there, or if residents wanted to stay, they should all change their name to Elizabeth 😀

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF – Weird Things in Folktales

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  3. joy says:

    Does the New York Palace have any connection with the State?

    Joy @ The Joyous Living

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  4. cheriereich says:

    What great pictures! I enjoyed learning more about Erzsebetvaros.

    Like

  5. […] di Santa Croce (16 views) Castle District, Budapest (29 views) Dohány Utca Synagogue (18 views) Erzsébetváros (14 views) Flemish Giant (17 views) Gellért Hill (12 views) L’Hôtel de la Duchesse-Anne and […]

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