- family history
- local history
- motion pictures
- pop culture
“The yellow is the finest.
…Reams and reams of letters could I write in yellow ink to her, the little schoolgirl of my dreams. I'd scrawl something that looks like Japanese, then try a bird, most intricately scrolled.” – Dezső Kosztolányi wrote this in the poem I dream of coloured inks. If you look up to the sky, you see the sun yellow, but its colour is white actually, which means it contains all the colours. Colour depends on the wavelength of light: humans perceive the light yellow between 565 and 590 nanometres wavelength.
Self-portraits: works of art whose models were the creators themselves. Hearing this word, some famous pictures appear in our mind’s eye, for example Albrecht Dürer's self-portrait, as he depicted himself as Jesus Christ; Raphael’s calm features or about a hundred self-portrait engravings, drawings and paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn.
650th anniversary of the University of Pécs
As of 2017, the first day of September will be the Day of the Hungarian Higher Education, the memorial day of the foundation of the University of Pécs. On the 650th anniversary of the foundation of the University, we are commemorating this institute of great tradition with the following virtual exhibition.
A bridge as a link
In our language, the meanings related to a bridge or bridges and the metaphoric content of meaning emphasize their role of linking and interconnecting. In the urbanistic aspect, we can say that the history of the Budapest bridges is also the history of Budapest, but the situation is the same in the country too. The bridges that were exploded in the war and were rebuilt from scratch, the maimed elements of bridges during decades, served not only as functional elements, but also for spanning over borderlines or separating them. This week’s story is about bridges built between Buda and Pest, disappeared quarters, reconstructions and temporary solutions. Have a nice browsing!
A dog’s life
Dogs have been living with us from times immemorial, and still play important roles in our lives. They used to help people in hunting and shepherding, and now they are also occupied with leading the blind, rescuing and providing therapies.Dogs were developed by the domestication of an already-extinct subspecies of wolves. When it happened exactly is still a question of debates, but they have been partners of humans probably since the Palaeolithic age or the Neolithic age. Dog breeds are extremely colourful, and are classified in ten dog races on the basis of appearance or role.
A table for two with shade, view and fresh air
Compared to previous years, beer-gardens and terraces have been opened a bit later than usual this year, due to the winter in April after Easter, but slowly one can plan to sit outside more confidently. Let’s look around the terraces of restaurants and taverns next to once-popular hiking destinations. First on the side of Buda.
A unique liqueur and family story
The family Zwack has been leading their factory for the past six generations, not counting the period of nationalization. Their name and lives welded with Unicum. A secret recipe, positive thinking, some good luck and venturesome spirit. Is that all their secret? Our current collection reveals it.
Ady’s forgotten Muse
Love fades away slowly, especially if it is platonic. How many untold words and missed opportunities are hidden behind tiny little memories and letters? Waiting, suffering, the joy, the pain and many more sentiments could be hidden in a young girl’s heart, when she decided to give up her desires. Whether provincial prudery or a moral question stood behind this? Anyway, could you keep a secret like your love is Endre Ady for decades? Today’s selection highlights this mysterious relationship; with Endre Ady, Illi Kíváncsi (Curious), the family Varga and their relatives.
Nowadays, it is taken for granted that you can open the tap and get either cold drinking water or fine warm water. But only few people have this luck in the world and maybe our grandchildren will not be able to enjoy this comfort. How did water supply developed in Hungary since the ancient Romans? Would you ever think of how many aquatic relics you pass by during your days? Our aquatic exhibition is going to answer these questions.
As long as the Danube… - hairstyle-historical curiosities
The human head of hair is an inevitable part of cultural history. During history, men usually formed their hair and facial hair according to fashion, followed the actual ruler – and sometimes wore a certain hairstyle because of revolt or constraint. In case of women, mainly in folk cultures, hairstyles always meant something: age, marital status – besides the fashion and revolt. Wearing and presenting hair are immortal symbols of life-force, health, and it also signifies power and is a tool of self-expression.
At the café - better than being at home
Espresso, double espresso, long coffee, cappuccino, ristretto, mocha, macchiato, melange, café au lait, Irish, Turkish, coffee with milk, with ice or whipped cream. With or without sugar. In the morning, at noon, in the evening. At home, in a street, on a veranda, on a terrace, during work or during a break, in a real cup or paper cup, from the corridor machine or at a boulevard café, in any seasons; coffee. One cup of perfect coffee demands 7 grams of ground coffee. But what kind of demand lay behind going to the café at the turn of the century?
As we are proceeding in autumn, the scenery puts on more and more red and pink shades, darkness starts earlier and mornings turn cooler and cooler. Pumpkins and gourds have already appeared on greengrocers’ stands, and flower seller old women offer asters and rosehips. Deciduous plants have started their annual purifying cure, getting rid of their leaves. Chestnuts are falling, which is excellent material for making amorphous toy horses.
Basalt cliffs, wine terraces and Muses’ kisses
Badacsony. Our peculiar-shaped butte brings up a great deal of positive associations in our minds: a holiday at Lake Balaton, the taste of Badacsony wines (kéknyelű, szürkebarát), a joyful compotation with crackling cones, a walk on the mountainside covered with vine-plants, a tour among the basalt cliffs. All these will be evoked during a virtual trip on the slopes of Badacsony in our current exhibition.
Bathing is one of the oldest cultural possessions of mankind. Baths built on the territory of the former Pannonia could be the centres of social life; just think about Aquincum that must have been a real spa as ruins of several baths were found during excavations. Later even Christians used medicinal springs, and built cloisters and hospitals next to them, for example the healing place of the leper was Rudas Bath. But baths became really famous only later.
Beach-style – Swimsuit fashion from bathing costumes to bikinis
In our current exhibition, we are going to visit the lidos of the past century and find out how bathing suits became smaller and shorter. What beach fashion did our parents and grandparents follow? Who popularized the bikini that was regarded as a taboo initially? How did the atomic bomb and a strip dancer influence the swimsuit fashion? And how was it connected to James Bond and Star Wars? Our exhibition will give you the answers.
Birds from bird’s eye view
In the country, you wake up to the song of invisible birds and you slalom among tame pigeons in the city. Birds are part of your life, but still it is stunning that they form one of the largest classes of animals with 9900 species. There are 400 species in Hungary. We depend on them because people’s main nutriments come from the meat and eggs of the domesticated species. We also like watching the wild ones when walking in nature. Let’s see some curiosities about these winged creatures!
Black for wedding, white for mourning – colours of Hungarian folk costumes
Hungarian folk costumes are traditional clothes that ‘wear’ the characteristics and customs of different regions. The main territories are: Transdanubia, Upper Hungary (or Upland), the Great Plain and Transylvania. There are lots of regions within these territories, having their own folk costumes. The world of colours and motifs of these clothes are fairly varied. Durability was an important aspect when they were made, thus several generations were able to wear them – which is unfortunately unimaginable nowadays in the world of ‘fast fashion’.
One of the best occasions for taking city photos is when the sun is disappearing on the horizon or when it hasn’t appeared yet. The sky is blazing in the most beautiful shades of blue, the orange lights of the city have just been lit or they are still on. Plenty of this kind of photos can be found on the internet. Almost every second findings of the search word ‘Budapest’ were made during the ‘blue hour’. The blue colour of the sky is caused by the atmospheric light dissemination; without the atmosphere the sky would be black.
Nowadays, people frequent concerts at the Akvárium, while philharmonics prefer the Music Academy, but where did the people of the 19th century go out to, if they longed for amusement or music? In Pest, they went to the Redoute – opened in 1833, the predecessor of Pesti Vigadó – or to the Hungaria Hotel. Although the Vigadó had several functions; charity balls and gala parties were organised, but after all it was in Pest. The citizens of Buda did not like that, because the transport in the city was neither comfortable nor quick, especially in winter.
The starting points of every holiday at Balaton are good weather and a packed-up family with air mattress, sun-cream and chilled drinks. But what to do if it rains? If your plans are upset, choose a cultural program, which can compensate for the missed bathing. Choose something like the Festetics Castle of Keszthely. This week we are wandering in the Castle – with the assistance of Balaton Museum.
You are already humming the catchy and melodious Christmas tunes unintendedly, while the fish is lying in the fridge without scales, and you are kneading the dough of the Christmas cake because you don’t want to leave it to the last moment; the cabbage also must be here somewhere, and a part of the gifts that is lying around you hasn’t been packed yet, while the other part is still in the shops, though you promised yourself that this year would be different… Hey, stop for a moment! What about relaxing? And what about the cozy moments that films, adverts and postcards propagate?
Comradely greetings from Lake Balaton
We have already rested in cosy restaurant gardens sipping beer, watered wine or “Bambi” and walked under the shady trees of Margaret Island, visited the famous baths of the Monarchy, so now it’s time to go on holiday. How about Lake Balaton? Many of us first remember – besides the breathtaking coast – the “Zimmer Frei” apartments, the rammish smell of the corn on the cob – “maisbitte” – and the typical buildings of company resorts. Relaxing can be pleasant not only on the beach. Mountain lovers and rural thermal-bath-goers can also spend some nostalgic moments with the postcards and photos of our selection.
Count Gyula Andrássy and the Compromise
On 17 February 150 years ago, the Austrian Kaiser asked Count Gyula Andrássy to form his government and appointed him prime minister. The first responsible Hungarian government after the Compromise was established on 20 February, 1867. The dual monarchy that was born due to the Compromise consisted of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, with one emperor Franz Joseph I – Austrian Kaiser and Hungarian King.
Cult of moustache
The moustache is a part of men’s facial hair that grows between the nose and the mouth. It is a secondary sex characteristic that also has an aesthetic function. In certain social groups, it is an identity creating power and a fashion phenomenon, a symbol that changes during history. They have a different role in the animal world: antennas and olfactory organs that help night animals, mainly felines and other small mammals. In the case of fishes (including catfish and carp) the moustache-like dermal pendants also serve sensing and orientation. You can even find birds with whiskers.
Cultural history of the Tatra Mountains – dragon bones, treasure hunters and sanatoria
The High Tatras are an Alpine holiday place that can be reached with a half-day journey from Budapest. They provide hiking and mountain climbing opportunities, fascinating peaks and clear fresh air. Tourism appeared in the 1820s at the feet of the Tatras, and splendid hotels of the Monarchy were built soon. Our virtual exhibition reveals how the common history of the massif and the people developed during the past couple of centuries.
Day of Hungarian Poetry
’Then why should I, a poet, study poetry? The wet star, that eye which swims upon the midnight eddy, may not with grace ascend the sky. Time oozes down, and I no longer suck the breast milk of fairytales; I quaff the real world in my hunger, whose foamy head is heaven's pales.’ (Quotation from Attila József’s Ars Poetica) Attila József’s question is not just a poetical question, because poetry is the life itself. The day of Hungarian poetry has been celebrated since 1964 on 11 April – Attila József’s birthday. We celebrate not only the poet, but also poetry and lyric. What is poetry and why should we commemorate it?
Demolished memories, lost buildings – Budapest
I would like to invite you to a short walk in Budapest. Let’s explore which is the most expensive bomb-site of Budapest and why. What kind of buildings stood on the places of hotels on the Pest-side bank of the Danube? How did the busiest or most important meeting-points of Pest – Deák Ferenc Square, Blaha Lujza Square, and Kálvin Square - transform? And why were the City Hall and a whole residential area of Buda demolished?
Demolished memories, lost buildings – chief towns, settlements
My previous article is continued now with moving the focus from the buildings and squares of Budapest to the buildings of chief towns and small settlements, which you cannot see anymore in the way they used to be 25, 50, 100 or more years ago. The article reveals what you can look upon in Győr and what the inhabitants of Kecskemét had to face when waking up on 8 July in 1911. I will also introduce some examples for the devastations of the Second World War outside Budapest.
Do you know what ’Zserbó’ is? The Vörösmarty’s maiden name
Zserbó, either it is classical or as my granny makes it at Easter, at Christmas, at birthdays. Briefly, anytime. Which came first: the goody filled with jam and walnut or the confectionery? You can find it out this week.
Do you want to play?
The history of toys is older that humanity, because mammals, mostly young animals can attend to an object that they promote to a toy for a long time. Toys were present in the ancient times and several relics remained from the period of first human civilisations. They were mainly models of adults’ everyday objects, arms or dolls and animal statuettes. They served and still serve as tools for roleplays: children can play the adults’ world with them. But let’s not go so far in the past, just 100-150 years ago.
Endre Szász’s life – Master of book illustrations and porcelain panels
Endre Szász was an extremely versatile artist of the 20th century and had outstanding effects on fine arts. He was a painter, a graphic artist and a visual designer, a fashion and jewel designer, a porcelain painter and a master that lifted book illustration onto artistic levels. By favour of the Rippl-Rónai Museum of Kaposvár, an important graphic collection of Szász’s special artworks can be found in our database in digital format. We are going to study his adventurous life related to that.
Evolution of household appliances
Housekeeping is an ‘obligatory’ task, which could be rather burdening before the birth of the modern household. Our current virtual exhibition gives a short overview of the development how washing by hand was replaced by washing machines, mangle was changed by flat iron or sewing by hand gave place to sewing machines.
Ex libris means bookplate, a small multiplied graphic work pasted into the book, on the inside front cover, identifying the book owner. Typically, it contains the owner’s name or a symbol that refers to them or their gratifications. According to its original function, it identified the library where the book belonged to. Lots of graphic artists undertake creating bookplates even today, so the art-historical significance of ex libris labels is indisputable. The first bookplates decorated the books of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and those of Willibald Pirckheimer. Pirckheimer’s bookplate was etched by Albrecht Dürer himself, who excelled both in wood-cutting and copperplate engraving techniques. Not surprisingly, ex libris – as a tiny work of art- became the object of collections in the course of time. Some proportion of them never gets into books, but remains stock of barter for collectors.
Fabulous picture postcards
The picture postcard is the descendant of the postcard without doubt. But who invented it and when – opinions are split about these questions. It was in 1865 when the thought of mailing by an open card without an envelope emerged on a mail congress. It was obvious, because the majority of mails contained only felicitations and simple greetings. So why should you waste expensive letter-paper if you wanted to greet your loved-ones?
They have been living close to us for about 10 thousand years. The earliest proof of humans and cats’ coexistence was found on Cyprus in a ca. 9,500 year-old tomb. Besides the human skeleton and smaller and bigger articles for personal use, the remains of a cat were also found. Cats are not autochthonous on the island; they might have arrived from the continent, probably from the area of the ’fertile crescent’, where domestication of cats must have happened first.
For Saint Nicholas day
The Hungarian name Miklós (and the English Nicholas) comes from the Greek name Nikolaos, its original meaning: triumph + people. Its registered versions separated from the ancient Hungarian nickname: Miksa, Mike, Mikes, Mikó and Nikolasz that was taken from English. Miklós was the 76th most frequented male name in Hungary in 2016. 136 children got it as a first name, but the English-sounding Nikolasz was more popular, 169 little boys got it.
Forint turned 70 this year
The prices of wheat and bread are increasing. The prices of feed, meat, milk and egg are increasing as well. The price of cold cuts is 10 forints higher than it was last week. The hail damage in fruiteries will cause shortage in apricot, plum and sour-cherry on the market, on the shelves, in the bottle, or they will be spoilt. Inflation – the depreciation of money – can be influenced by a lot of factors. The slow inflation can be felt by everybody, but the existence of it is important economically. But what did people feel, just after surviving the Second World War, when they had to face the chaos of hyperinflation?
From Bridge Society to Chain Bridge
Every bridge of the Danube has world fame because of its beauty, especially the Chain Bridge. Not surprisingly the famous guide-book of author Antal Szerb – A Martian’s Guide to Budapest – also starts from here. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the first permanent stone bridge over the Danube in Hungary. Its construction was preceded by fierce debates and a long awaiting time; it was finished by 1849 finally. The irony of fate is that the man who did the most for the bridge could never use it – because István Széchenyi spent his last years at the mental asylum of Döbling.
From the reindeer bone to the skating rink
It is a winter sport that can be done even without snow, and you can do it in the city-centre as well. You don’t need any special qualifications to do it; all you need is some courage, some experience and maybe some company. It is the ice-skating. Budapest and other major towns offer a lot of skating opportunities, but the most obvious solution when you take a fancy for skating is the City Park Ice Rink.
Gone-by New Year’s Eves
The last day of the year is always full of expectations, because the New Year might keep so many things: long-forgotten dreams, resolutions, bucket lists turn up and it is also a good feeling to close down and make an account of your achievements reached so far. A wide palette of traditions is related to the New Year’s Eve. According to superstitions, it is that time when you can do the most for your success in the New Year.
History of soft drinks
The rich water-supply of Hungary is legendary. Hungarians have the possibility of both swimming in waters and consume them. We are going to study the history of beneficial mineral waters and the soda-water – its maiden name was ‘szikvíz’ that means ’alkaline-water’ – and that of soft drinks made by the socialist industry.
The favourite confection of us all: we flavour our tea with it, spread it on bread, make cookies with it and use it for healing our sore throats. This is honey. You would not think that people in Hungary did apiary already a thousand year ago and partly due to that, a lot of folk beliefs and customs are related to apiculture. Our current article is about them, illustrated with ethnographic thematic records, apicultural and gingerbread tools from our database.
Hop Little Bunny
During the Easter period, the characteristic motifs of the feast – the egg, the lamb and the rabbit – always come into the limelight. Symbols that remained from pagan fertility rituals get on well with the Christian traditions and ceremonies. The Easter Bunny is very popular, but it is not the only famous rabbit. Let’s recall the bunny heroes of our childhood, without entirety, and let’s get to know real rabbits better as well.
How not to feel cold in winter?
Cold weather has arrived, the quivering one. Now you can choose between huddling up against your sweetheart, your little pet or putting your warmest clothes. The road while people got from animals’ fur to faux fur and from hand-made hats to machine-knitted hats was long enough. To our actual selection, cardigans, fur-coats and muffs provide suitable temperature.
Imagine that you are in 1970 and you take the tram in Lenin Boulevard (Teréz and Erzsébet Boulevards today) on a grey autumn day. What could be more relaxing after a tiring day than watching the neon signs sweeping by: Röltex, Patyolat, Ofotért, Orion, Közért. Many people have written about the development story of Hungarian brands and the adverts related to them. Some of them were forgotten long ago, but there are some that sound familiar still today. Now, we have gathered a couple in order to feel nostalgia without remorse.
Hungarian eastern – Stories of the outlaw
At the beginning of the 18th century, a new ’profession’ appeared on the Hungarian wasteland: the outlaw. They had a great influence on the culture history and the folk art of the period and later until today, inspiring folk art motives, folk songs and folk ballads. The role of footpads is still debated: were they Hungarian ‘Robin Hoods’, or just over-estimated criminals?
Hungarian winter expelling festival, Busó-walking of Mohács
The oldest and most famous winter expelling carnival of Hungary – called ‘busó –walking’ of Mohács – is starting today. About 800 busós and 200 maskers are going to take their farewells of winter. The ‘busó-walking’ is a world-famous folk tradition of the Sokác (Croatian: Šokci) population in Mohács. The winter expelling and spring welcoming tradition can be found in the mythological world of other countries as well. It belongs to the family of protecting and fertility spell feasts.
I enjoy the beach so much…
Our gallery of the end of June reflects the actual general feeling: get out of the office and let’s go to the beach! There are plenty of opportunities to do that in Hungary: beaches of Lake Balaton and Lake Velence, Palatinus Lido in Margaret Island. We are giving a bit of heartache and show you free-minded people splashing around in the water or sunbathing, eating ice cream or watermelon on the beach.
Ice on the top
Many of us may think it is odd that people walked or even elected a king on the top of the ice on the Danube during the past centuries, but in those times it was not rare. Nowadays, the congelation of the river is almost unimaginable. There are several reasons for that, but the most important one is the river control
Indiana Jones on the Hungarian wasteland
Is there anybody who as a child did not think about becoming an archaeologist? Or played treasure hunt or admired Indiana Jones? Archaeology includes the excitement of exploration and the quenchless human thirst for searching the past. Our database contains many photos in the topic of archaeology, from fieldwork to object photos. Our current virtual exhibition was composed by them. Moreover, the 3D models of findings can be taken in your hands and turned over virtually.
Keep out moustache, here comes the beard
The beard is the fur that grows on men’s faces. It covers the lower part of the face and the chin; it can even reach the neck. The area between the mouth and the nose is called a moustache. The beard had crucial functions even in the prehistoric ages. It kept the face warm, protected the mouth from dirt and it also frightened away enemies. During history, it was the symbol of masculinity and potency. It also represented and still represents a kind of coherency among men wearing a beard. Jowls can be found on certain mammals too: for example dogs, goats.
Lake Velence, the lake of sunshine
After the gastro-tour at Balaton, we are wandering towards another frequented summer destination. Lake Velence became a popular touristic centre primarily because of its nearness and its slowly-deepening sandy beaches. The lake was not always this gentle and peaceful, at the beginning of the 20th century its surface was hardly visible due to the thick reed. The area was threatened by becoming a moorland, and by floods and drying as well. Fortunately, none of these dangers menace today, all you have to do is enjoy the lukewarm water and the fine sand under your soles.
Largest department store – largest selection - Corvin
An attractive meeting point for some, the modern-age temple of consumption for others, a real monster that incorporates people, inciting their thirst for possessing. The malls that is to say western-type shopping centres spread after the change of regime; until then, department stores had had the main role in Hungary. In their heydays, there was the Úttörő (Pioneer), the Verseny (Competition) and later the Skála (Scale) and the Centrum (Centre). The first Hungarian department store, which could be only a distant cousin of the main character of our exhibition, was already built for our demand of shopping everything at the same place. Let’s see how their story went.
Legend of the Christmas tree
The resin scent of the Christmas tree and the stinging pine needles during decoration are determinant memories of our childhood. In the 1990s, plastic pines spread and nowadays there are different environmentally friendly creative solutions to replace pine trees with branches and pallets. However, the classical sawn trees or the living pines are the most popular. In our virtual exhibition, we are going to find out why the pine tree became the indispensable accessory of Christmas.
Legendary railway carriages
George Stephenson would be amazed that his invention rather drifts than sweeps nowadays, just think about the magnetic levitation train Maglev. Inventing the steam engine caused a serious change, – not only in transport – because it created a new way of perceiving space and time, as the notions of distance and time of travelling changed at the same time. Stephenson’s locomotive was received with strong doubts. People thought its flame might put houses on fire, while others just thought that it was a machine pulled by the devil. Our current virtual exhibition brings back the nostalgia of famous railway carriages that ran in Hungary as well.
Let it be red
Red is the first colour of the rainbow, a prime colour, which means that it cannot be created from other colours. If you mix red with yellow you get orange, with blue you get violet, which are secondary colours. When using graphics programs, you get the perfect red colour under the hexadecimal number #FF0000 or by giving the RGB value 255, 0, 0. But what kind of connotations do people associate to this colour?
Let’s go camping!
The excitement of camping belongs to our most beautiful childhood experiences. Putting up the tent, nestling in, roasting bacon in the evening, fighting with mosquitos, listening to noises of the night, playing with the torch. If the weather is rainy, it makes the adventure even more exciting. Queuing at the bathroom or just simply having a bath in the lake.
Everyone likes winning, and probably even more likes playing. In our next selection, we are looking into the history of the sixty-year-old lottery. How we got to the modern lottery from the small games, from unlicensed gambling rooms to television broadcastings? The fluctuant prejudice of gambling still exists. While a class-draw was organized to fund the Millennial Exhibition in 1896, all forms of gambling were banned and kept in secret after the Second World War.
Vivid life on the market, enticing scents, piles of vegetables and fruits that either attract or deter you. Juicy gossips get on well with the market price of potatoes in this cavalcade, as well as the unmistakable voices of costers bargaining among rows with nosing chaps sneaking tiny goods. Our selection is going to show you not only the markets of Budapest, but also the rural ones: from the legendary Nagycsarnok (Great Hall) to the Vásárcsarnok (Market Hall) of Pécs.
Marlboro Man in the Eastern Bloc
Inhaling the smoke of tobacco leaves, which is often mentioned as ‘brown gold’, has a cultural history of about 5-7000 years. Smoke can be made by a pipe, a cigar, a cigarette or a nargile, but people consume tobacco in the form of taking snuff or maccabaw and chewing quid as well. How did smoking become an inevitable part of our cultural history? How did Hungary ascend to the top of tobacco industry and how did it vanish slowly? This short resume about the history of smoking is going to shed light on the questions.
Memories from the Ottoman-Turkish Era
After the Turkish occupation, under their subjection, the fate of the Hungarian Kingdom took a completely different direction, while the earlier Hungary was one of the most significant countries in Europe. The ultimate goal of all the Hungarian kings was to rule in a powerful and independent state, but after the occupation of Buda, only hope remained. During more than a hundred years, two great-power centres decided upon the future of Hungary: first in Istanbul and then in Vienna.
More than 77 Hungarian folk tales
Everyone can remember the little bird that sings authentic Hungarian flower motives, for the melody of the Hungarian band Kaláka and the sound of flute in the theme song. You can also recollect Gyula Szabó’s tale-telling voice and ‘my tale’, which would have lasted longer if the 6-8-minute playing time had not finished.
National Exhibition and Fair of Pécs in 1907
There was a feast in Pécs 110 years ago today, because the National Exhibition and Fair of Pécs in 1907 was organised on this very day. The expo that attracted almost a million visitors aimed to introduce the trade, agriculture, home industry and art of Hungary to the general public – according to its rules – and to strengthen the relationships between producers and consumers. It was not a well-known fact that the construction of a culture palace in Pécs depended on the incomes of the fair. Although the expo was successful, Pécs did not get the palace.
New bread and fireworks for the people
On 20th August, Hungarians have already celebrated St. Stephen, the new bread and even the new constitution. It is not surprising that feasts have their own lives too. Probably at their birth it is clear who or what event they are devoted to celebrate, but as time passes by, they are expanded with other senses of meaning or they become forgotten. Just imagine how King St. Ladislaus of Hungary would have been surprised if he had found himself among people celebrating the new constitution in the 1950s.
Olympics will be here soon. For many of us it is pure excitement, baggy eyes and daily routine timed to the Hungarian team’s appearance. It is an event that sticks people in front of the telly, even those who are not real sport fans. There are newsreel excerptions in our collection, reporting from the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, but you can also see parts of the London Olympics in 1948, about Olga Gyarmati’s triumph, who won Hungary’s second gold medal on the competition. You can browse among Olympic badges and stamps issued in the honour of our winners. Besides that, you can see the Olympic relics and medals of gymnast Olga Törös, fencer Zoltán Horváth and Áron Szilágyi and wrestler István Majoros. Finally, you can find out about the hopes of the person who revived the idea of Olympics, and answer for the questions: which were the most troublesome Olympic Games and when was the Hungarian team the most productive.
Once and now; a walk in the Buda Castle
The Buda Castle is our emblematic building. During its stirring history, it was under siege at least as many years as it was left abandoned and ruined. Renovations and reconstructions, enlargements and breakdowns formed it to its present shape, which is owing to the reconstruction from the 1960s to 1985. We do not want to make judgements or answer architectural historic questions. This week’s ‘once and now’ selection is about the demolished, transformed or miraculously saved parts of the palace complex. Have a nice browsing!
Pálinka, my love…
Pálinka is appetizer before a family lunch, mood enhancer on a friendly party, an obligatory turn at celebrations, and it’s an insult to reject – though this latter is just a bad habit. Hungarians have a saying that means ‘Good morning with pálinka!’ and there are many other ‘nicknames’, you can call it: ‘fence-ripper’ (kerítésszaggató), ‘don’t-tousle-me’ (nerángass) or ‘my grandpa’s muter’ (nagyapám némítója). What you can use for making jam, you can also use for making pálinka – that’s how our old saying goes. You can even still beetroot or poppy-seeds.
Panem et circenses
The amphitheatres of the Roman Era offered a completely different kind of circuses than the ones you can see nowadays. Certainly, stepping into the ring back then must have been much more dangerous than it is today. Life and death fights were going on there between men and animals mixed. Presumably, many of you have an idea of that, as Ridley Scott’s Gladiator provided some hints about it. The word ‘circus’ originates from the Latin ‘circus’ and the Greek ‘kirkos’. It means circle or ring.
Past and present of the beach food movement at Lake Balaton
All of us, Hungarians have experiences of the gastronomy at Lake Balaton: about the retro hamburgers, the Hungaricum ‘langosh’ (lángos) and the present beach food gastro-revolution too. The catering of Balaton beaches is so much a determinative segment of the Hungarian culture that even cult films were made about it: Zimmer Feri (by Péter Tímár) or Szezon (by Ferenc Török). In our exhibition we are going to review how an impoverished region became the most popular holiday location in nearly a hundred years and how we got from the langosh-frying huts to the culinary delights served on the coolest terraces of the country.
Glove manufacturing has a 300 year-old past in Pécs: gloves have been made here since the middle of the 18th century. The family Hamerly built a factory that was well-known throughout Europe in the 19th century. After the Second World War, the nationalized glove factory became one of the most important mills in the world. Nowadays, seven minor glove manufacturing private firms are operating in the city, united in a cluster.
Photography bloopers and manipulations
We have compiled a bizarre photo-historical assortment for this week, with old portrait-, tableau- and genre photos that went wrong somehow, either technically or due to a careless motion or blink. As they had the chance for only one click that time, the failure of the process resulted that these photos show unlaboured moments to the curious eyes of the future.
Pinball, billiards and table football
Our need for play is eternal. Many people remember only certain toys from their ‘idyllic’ childhood that became sugar-coated during the years. Rocking horses, stuffed animal toys, red bicycles. But what about our later games? Everybody felt the usefulness of slot machines in catering industrial units, which could save countless parties from drowning in boredom. This week, we have selected photos of skill games like pinball, table football or billiards that has a long history.
Pop-stars on leaflets and pamphlets
The institutes uploading to our database digitise a lot of leaflets, pamphlets, invitation cards, posters, flyers and postcards. Not all of them represent important art historical values, but they are essential from the point of local history researches. How did our parents and grandparents amuse and improve themselves? These printed materials can tell stories about that too.
Power-plant tuned for culture
The socialist heritage is a ‘heavy’ one not only in the industrial aspect. Filling the space after the closed establishments, or rather replacing them with new functions is a challenge that not only Hungary has to face. There are good examples to follow: in Vienna, where Gasometer was converted into flats, or in Germany, where the Ruhr area managed to switch from industry into culture. In Hungary, the former Ganz factory was replaced by the Millenáris as an ideal solution. It seems as if the 20-year-long sufferings after the shutdown of the former ironworks have ended and the people of Ózd can occupy the renovated Power-plant and Blowing Engine-house again, but not in the usual way.
Preserve, jam and pálinka
Zesty fruits are part of the summer, but it is worth preserving them so that you can avoid thinking of them with nostalgia in winter. We are going to get into the story of fruit preserving and jam making among preservation methods. As a matter of curiosity, the science of jam making is at least as ancient as brewing. You can easily access to recipes as well, because our collection contains a cookbook or rather an electuary book, and you can get familiar with cooking tools too.
Ramblings in breweries
In the hot summertime, there isn’t a better thing to do than to drink a pint of cold beer on your favourite terrace. Though Hungary is rather a vine-producing than a beer-brewer country, it has four historical breweries that produce more than 6 million hectolitres of beer a year. Take a bottle of your favourite bitter hop-drink in your hand and let’s have a closer look into the small Hungarian beer history, along these four factories – with a little outlook.
Furnishing is good, especially if you can express your creative energies in your own homes. Some choose from the selection of the Swedish store chain, others make their flats cosier by rethinking granny’s cupboard set. Many of you must remember the original shapes of retro furniture: besides sticky faux leather armchairs or varnished wardrobe sets, the legendary shell-shaped red armchair is still a designer item. For the interior decorators and designers of the 1970s and 1980s, filling the interior spaces of blocks of flats with new forms must have been a real challenge. However, the results speak for themselves. Réka cupboard set, Pillangó (Butterfly) sofa or the star of the ‘60s Erika chair are still living with us. This week, we invite you to a furniture expo with Sándor Bauer’s photos.
Retrospective bicycle tour
The bicycle is one of the most useful inventions of mankind: everybody uses it from children to elderly people, in cities and in the country. You can ride it anywhere, it is environmentally friendly and it keeps you fit. Great deals of artworks were inspired by the bicycle. Just think of the famous film of the Italian neorealism The Bicycle Thief, the classic Queen song Bicycle Race or Pink Floyd’s Bike. But of course the bicycle was not built in a day; you can find its predecessors on the battlefields of ancient times. Bicycle history traces back its ancestor with transporting function in the beginning of the 19th century.
Sacred or profane? Nudes in fine arts
Depicting naked human bodies is an ancient need of art; this need can be self-knowledge, scientific curiosity, attraction to beauty or arousal of thirst. A nude can be a study, a practice, a realistic image aspiring objectivity, or a figure that bears the artist’s marks or an allegory by chance. All these depend on the approach of the age, the artistic style, the artist’s personality and intentions. Our exhibition and gallery will show how these things developed in painting and photography mostly.
Serial costume history 1 (1850-1900)
The second half of the 19th century was the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy period and the late Victorian era. This was the time of the American civil war, the colonisation rivalry and the second industrial revolution. The time of grandiose dress creations: the ladies’ spectacular appearance has been still recalling the typical nostalgia for the period. On the other hand, gentlemen’s costumes did not really differ from formal attires of today’s men. With the portrait photos of our database, we are going to show what kind of clothes they wore during these decades.
Serial costume history 2 - The Belle Époque
In the second part of our fashion historical review, we are going to study the clothes of the turn of the century and the 1910s. Women abandon clumsy hoops and stiff corsets; uncomfortable decorations are replaced by practical common sense and elegant simplicity. We can owe these mainly to reform-costumed artistesses, suffragettes and to Coco Chanel. Our selection is dominated by female portraits, because men held on to the so far acknowledged elegancy; their clothes did not change a lot.
Serial costume history 3 – The Gatsby style and trousered divas
In the third part of our fashion historical review, girls of the twenties and thirties were already working and having fun carefreely. Both activities required comfortable clothes. Flapper girls with bob haircut danced Charleston on dance-parties. Masculine characteristics appeared on women’s clothes; Marlene Dietrich proved that even trousers could be feminine. Gentlemen already without beards wore suits, bow-ties and varied hats.
Short statue walk in Budapest
In our virtual exhibitions, we have already written about buildings in Budapest, which were demolished and which were built in their places. This time, we continue with statues that guard memories of the past. Besides the most important creators of the Hungarian memorial sculpture, the adventurous lives of statues will also be mentioned. It is surprising that although this field of sculpture was flourishing in the 19th century, its beginning is not related to the birth of a statue, but that of a pamphlet.
Slide film history
In our virtual exhibition, we are going to study the history of slideshows and slide-projectors from the several-thousand-year-old invention of shadow plays and Leonardo da Vinci’s camera obscura to the prosperous optical industry of the 20th century. We are going back to the cambered cartoon slide projectors that existed in most households as of the 1950s and the colourful board and later plastic boxes filled with reels, from which it felt so good to select those bedtime stories.
Small reflection of Debrecen: the album Gondy-Egey
On the occasion of the day of Hungarian photography, we have been picking from the photos of the legendary photographer duo of the 19th-century Debrecen Károly Gondy and István Egey. The reorder-book saved almost 40 thousand pictures, of which nearly 2 thousand are accessible in our database as well. The material in the album is not only a social depiction but also the revival of the 19th-century Debrecen with actresses’ and noblemen’s portraits and inevitable family photos.
The bitter weather of winter is over and as you feel less and less cold in the morning, you take out your spring overcoats and shoes from the deep of wardrobes. First, snowdrops and crocuses spring up from the soil; buds appear on trees and bushes – and you hope that an unexpected frost does not spoil the yearly apple and plum yield. Nature is waking up, migratory birds return to their abandoned nests.
Stairs and staircases have at least as much metaphorical power as roads have. At the first step, you are still uncertain about the way they take you, but even the ‘journey’ itself promises an exciting adventure. A highlight of the presently popular guided historical city walks is roaming in unknown houses. People who love constructed environment can walk through them from cellar to attic even if it is a mansion or a baronial building.
Staying prepared since 1912
Youth movements did not start with scouting, as religious groups, self-developing clubs, self-organising teams have always existed. But we do not know any other popular movements that had such a great influence on the youth and that still exists. Its unbroken popularity is owing to its basic principles like openness; because anybody could join the scout movement regardless of origin, social situation or religion. Probably, its independence from politics also did good to the movement. It was not easy to ignore politics when certain youth movements were considered by the public as child-sections of the Party.
Ten curiosities about the Hungarian sparkling wine production and about champagne maker Törley
You can drink it when you are happy or sad, but mostly on special occasions and on New Year’s Eve of course. The champagne is in the focus of our current compilation.
That’s how the thousand-year-old Hungary celebrated
1896 was the year of the Millennium definitely. The whole country was in a fever. Special and exciting events followed one another: inauguration of the Vígszínház and the Museum of Applied Arts, launch of the Underground, Árpád Feszty’s cyclorama and the New York Coffee House on the grand boulevard (Nagykörút) were also ready. There were places for entertainment as well, for example ‘Ős Budavára’ (Ancient Buda Castle) was a famous hall in the era, where elated moments were not only due to alcohol. Adventure-seekers could admire the urbanizing Budapest in Louis Godard’s hot-air balloon from above. Our gallery includes the pavilion of the Transport Museum, Grand Duke Joseph’s pavilion and the Trade Hall, which cannot be seen anymore, but its base and flooring was reused and a famous youth leisure centre of Budapest operated on its place until 2015. It was not only the capital city that celebrated. On the occasion of the millennial feasts, memorial monuments were erected on seven places that were significant regarding the Hungarian state founding, for example: Zimony (Zemun), Brassó (Brasov) and Pannonhalma.
The Austrian-Hungarian Riviera
Sunshine, clear salty water, picturesque rocks and mountains above the coast. These are primary conditions of a real holiday by the sea – our great-great-grandparents knew that already. Our exhibition is going to show you the most popular holiday resorts of the Adriatic Sea during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the charming towns of Abbázia (Opatija), Lovran and Cirkvenica (Crikvenica). You are going to see where the cream of the Monarchy went to toast themselves.
The crown of Mecsek to be reopened
The four-star Hotel Kikelet has not received guests since the fall of 2015. Owner Ferenc Scheffer said then that he had been offering the hotel for sale for three years, and no buyers had turned up until then. The neighbouring Da Vince Private Clinic announced this year that it had purchased the former hotel redolent of age, where they would like to develop a hotel department for patients, a policlinic with 16 surgeries and offices. Besides operating a wellness section, they also want to form a physiotherapy room and to launch physiotherapy treatments. They are planning to open the restaurant and terrace – one of the most beautiful ones in Pécs – not only for the Da Vinci patients but also for the general public.
The fairy garden of Budapest
Summer and good weather are here and you could have a pleasant day if you chose to walk along Margaret Island in the heart of Budapest. You couldn’t do this 250 years ago, because the island was in possession of the church and then became the palatine’s holiday resort. It was the ranch of rollicking artists for a long period, like a kind of ‘artistic colony’; many of their literary works were born under the oak trees of the island. It is a paradise for spa lovers, the gathering place of professional sportspeople, amateur runners and outdoor yoga practicing persons.
The history of aviation
Who has never dreamt of flying? Humans have been longing for flying from times immemorial. The most important stages of the Hungarian history of aviation were documented not only by written records. They are revived by contemporary photos and newsreels: zeppelins, world-war bombers and hydroplanes. For example, photos prove that the idea of Zeppelin’s famous airship is actually the Hungarian Dávid Schwarz’s merit. In the 1920s, the Danube had important hydroplane traffic as well besides the ship transport, moreover on Lake Balaton, too. Our pilots conquered the sky not only above Hungary: László Almásy, our famous Africa explorer stood in front of the camera with the Pyramids of Giza in the background. After World War II, aviation was run by Maszovlet on the basis of an agreement with the Soviet Union and Hungary. Malév (the Hungarian Airlines) was established on 25 November 1954 and operated as an emblematic company of Hungary until 2012
The history of sleighing and skiing
December. Usually, the first snow falls down this time and lakes may freeze in as well. The snow-cover thickness record of 151 cm that fell in the area of Kőszeg in February 1947 could not be overpassed since then. A lot of snow fell during the 20th century, for example there was a memorable snowfall in 1987. What did people of the 20th century do in wintertime? Let us see it now!
100 stories. They say that the first one is crucial in everything. Who could deny it? But for us, who write and edit the virtual exhibitions every week, each composition is special. Our one hundredth selection is also a special one, and we celebrate it in an unusual way.
The independent post administration turns 150
Nowadays, the classic form of postal services is being confined, though it served highly important needs at its birth. Today, it is used for paying cheques, buying lottery tickets or taking out insurances. The establishment of Magyar Posta (Hungarian Post) is connected to the Compromise, just like many other institutes are. Let’s see how its history developed.
The Kistelegdi Collection
Dr. István Kistelegdi, Ybl-prize winner architect and emeritus professor at the University of Pécs, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, donated his photo collection about his life work to the Local History Collection of Csorba Győző Library in 2012. He took more than 5000 photos as the designer of BARANYATERV (between 1972 and 1988) and later the designer of PÉCSITERV. The collection partly covers the state constructions of Pécs and Baranya, Somogy and Tolna counties since the 1970s until the change of regime.
The museum piece, the treasured and the concert
Kossuth, Kisfaludy, Szent István; some people can recognize them from the names. It is not a secret that we are going to set sail in our actual composition. First for the Danube and then for farther seas. The elder days of glory went by – concerning the Hungarian navigation – but fortunately, there are plenty of relics that can be admired live as well. Now all aboard and let us set sail virtually!
The rain in May is worth gold – and what about the wedding?
It is a cliché that May is the month of love, spring, and trees in bud, colourful flowers and the beginning of the wedding season. According to superstitions, there are a lot of things that have influences on the successful outcome of a marriage, besides the date and the weather. Let’s see some of them.
The Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel or Grand Hotel Royal lived the everyday life of an ancient hotel: celebrities in the guest book, luxurious circumstances, a cinema in the ballroom; but it also witnessed sad events: a quarantine, the settlement of the Gestapo or bombardments in 1956.
The sculptor triumvirate of Túrkeve – the Finta brothers
The Finta brothers – Sándor, Gergely and Sámuel – were outstanding sculptor artists of the first half of the 20th century. Their life stories ran differently, they found their talents in other ways, but their lives were not only about sculpture. They were also occupied by medal art, graphic works, short stories and book illustrations. In our actual virtual tour, we are going to introduce the Finta artworks of Finta Museum of Túrkeve, in 3D digitised form besides the tanglesome life stories of the brothers.
The story of ice-cream
Although ice-cream is thought to be a typical Italian dessert, it originates from China. But in those times, it was rather like sorbets today, made of ice and fruits. It had an adventurous journey to Europe, but borderlines could not stop its spreading, and its popularity is still unbroken. Nowadays, only the nominal debates around dosage can cause some puzzling. Apart from that, you can have a scoop, a ball, a lick or a spatula of it with pleasure.
Theory of slumber
Some people are fond of it; some people think it is just a waste of time. In one way or another, you have to sacrifice eight hours a day on average in order to have your sleep out. People have always been interested in the mysterious world of sleeping and dreams. This is demonstrated well by the fact that this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three American researchers for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.
Under the open sky of Pest - on the plain side of Budapest
Last week we visited the former garden-restaurants, terraces and taverns of Buda and gained some insight into where the celebrities of the era, the middle-class citizens longing for amusement, or the members of aristocracy went out if they wanted to have a rest with a drink after a trip, or to have a good meal. Let’s see what happened meanwhile on the other side, in the shadows of plane trees and parks.
While walking on the yellow carpet of fallen leaves and tasting the flavoury grapes of the autumn, what else can come to one’s mind than the vine-harvest? Although grape-stomping and tamping are hard work, the harvest itself was and is considered a feast. It is about celebrating the fruit of a whole year’s work, which can be consumed later on. The date of vine-harvest used to be attached to an illustrious day in the 18th and 19th centuries: from Michaelmas (29 September) to the day of Saint Simon the Zealot (28 October). In several regions of the Hungarian Great Plain, the vine-harvest started at Michaelmas. In the Transdanubian and Transylvanian regions, it started on the day of Teresa of Avila (15 October); in the regions of Lake Balaton and Kőszeg, on the day of Saint Ursula (21 October) and it used to begin on the day of Saint Simon (28 October) in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region.
Summer and good weather have finally arrived. It is high time you went out and explore the well-known and hidden tourist places of Hungary. The sections of the Countrywide Blue Tour must be part of our selection, but other natural or historical sights are also included.
Visible and invisible 15th March
I am inviting our kind readers to a short virtual tour on the occasion of this illustrious day. We are going to see through what important historical events happened on the different points of the historic city centre of Pest on 15th March. We are going to study the history of buildings that were important locations: where they stood, if they still stand or what functions they served then and now. Follow me, please!
What he fought against became his destiny
The most respectful Hungarian medical university is named after Semmelweis. His birthday is the feast of medical workers, and his name became well known as the saviour of mothers. What kind of man was he? A hardheaded one. He collected a lot of enemies in the medical society with his persistent stubbornness, but it could not happen otherwise. In a period, when a good doctor was recognized by the smell of corpses remotely, he pestered the venerable doctors with sanitary regulations. On the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, we are looking into his tragic walk of life and the story of the Hungarian medicine.
When computers were unemployed
Owing to John von Neumann and his colleagues, modern computers conquered research institutes and then our homes. The electronic computers which stored programmes and were made on the basis of the Neumann principles were huge giants that filled the whole room. The first really modern computer IAS was not an exception either. It was built at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton by the Neumann group, by 1951. After eight years, the first Hungarian computer M-3 started working on 21 January, 1959.
Where fashion is born – Goldberger Textile Mill
When talking about the Hungarian textile and clothes industries, many people might associate to nylon housecoats, jersey pulls or the May 1 Clothes Factory, though their traditions go back to a much longer time. Our current virtual exhibition allows you to follow the development of a small family blue dyer firm becoming the largest textile company of Hungary, while you can also get to know the touching story of the family behind the factory.
Willy Wonka in Szerencs
The favourite dessert of us all, the chocolate stands in the focus of our weekly exhibition. One of the most beloved sweets got into Europe from the land of the Aztecs just a couple of centuries ago. It is the trump ace at celebrations; normally the birthday cake also contains it, Santa Claus and the Easter Rabbit also bring chocolates in their own shapes, and its mass gets the heart form on Valentin’s Day.
Women at work
The habit of sharing work between sexes is as old as humankind. Women’s job or men’s job; nowadays one refrains from putting it so bluntly. One thing is sure, women have always worked, either on fields or in a family grocery, and later in different professions for salary. We would like to blandish to you with women’s history this week. There are going to be women behind a counter, in factories, in the role of a nurse or a foreworker.
You are wonderful, Tabán
The arrival of spring is indicated by not only the warmish breeze and chirping birds but also the fact that more and more people spend their lunches or dinners in the open-air. This time, we are lingering on cool terraces in the legendary Tabán of Budapest.
People’s attraction to exotic animals is not a novelty, nor their collection and ostentation. The richness and power of rulers were not indicated by just the content of their treasuries, but also by the number of special animals in their courts. In the London Tower, there was a zoo as early as in the 13th century, but of course, it was not like today’s modern zoos; they kept panthers and lions. In Hungary, probably King Matthias had the most particular animals. According to chronicles, two lions and a number of exotic bird species gave light to his court. Nowadays, the aim of zoos is not to entertain and show special animals any more, but to save species. Although the panda diplomacy avoids Hungary, it seems we do not run out of brown bears.