Living in Buda is a world view
The magical atmosphere of the Buda districts is still impressive today. Either looking from Víziváros or Tabán; but their extent is often deceptive and it is also true for Rózsadomb. The quarter is only a small slice of the 2nd district, officially bordered by Bimbó Road, Alsó Törökvészi Road, Vérhalom Street, Veronika Street and Zivatar Street. In a broader sense, however, the term Rózsadomb is used for the residential area starting upwards from the Buda end of the Margaret Bridge, including the adjacent quarters.
But why did this area get its name from the roses? The answer is well known to many, Gül Baba, alias Father Rose - the meaning of gül: flower, rose – and the area is related to his person. The Bektashi dervish arrived in Buda with the occupying Ottoman army in 1541, but died soon after. A turbe was erected over his grave between 1543 and 1548, and soon roses also appeared at his resting place. According to some theories, the rose was a spiritual mark among dervishes. Whether roses were planted next to his tomb because they identified the dead this way, we do not know for sure. However, the legend is false that Gül Baba would have introduced roses in Hungary, since the flower was already popular in Hungary even in the Middle Ages.
Father of roses
According to other views, Gül Baba was not famous for her rose purity; he was simply bald like any dervish. The two Turkish words, the already mentioned gül and kel, meaning “bald,” could have been misunderstood and that is why our ancestors made the figure of the monk rosy. For a long time, the turbe stood alone on the hillside of Buda, after the dervish monastery, the Tekke, was destroyed when Buda was recaptured. During the 17th century, the turbe became a Jesuit chapel, and after the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1770, the area became the property of János Wagner in 1857.
Wagner, the father of an architect dynasty, originally bought the plot for a holiday house. First he planted vines in the vicinity of the tomb, then in 1893 applied for a building permit for a villa and connected the two main building parts on the plans with an oriental colonnade.
That’s how the turbe became part of the villa, and it became its luck too, because the villa protected it from war damage. Regardless of the surrounding buildings, restoration of the tomb began in the 1910s, however, work delayed for decades due to World War I. Meanwhile, he had to provide free access to the chapel to the pilgrims visiting the turbe. During the investigations in the tomb chapel, one of the skeletons found there was identified as the remains of Gül Baba by researchers. It was then that the idea of building a mosque around the turbe first arose, but this idea was later discarded. Although restoration work was carried out according to Egon Pfannl’s plans in the 1960s, the villa was beyond recovery, and was demolished in the 1970s. Using its foundations, a terrace was created around the turbe. The complete renovation of the area began in 2016 and took place until 2018, based on the ideas of architect István Mányi.
The fact that wine was also measured in the district is evidenced by the so-called “kapásházak” (hoe houses) that stood in Margit Street, for example. They were one-storied, triangular-gabled houses with baroque arched gate entrances, and their name referred to the indispensable tool of viticulture, the hoe.
In the past tense, because a residential house is being built also on the site of the most famous hoe house. The restaurant, known as Pejerli, welcomed guests since the 1770s. First only the locals gathered around its tables, later important figures of Hungarian art life also appeared there, from Sándor Márai to Árpád Feszty. The restaurant, which was then no longer just a wine shop, was revived by members of the Peyerl family. In Pejerli – everyone knew the restaurant that way – not only the wine was delicious, but the food as well. Successive generations of the Peyerls took catering very seriously, and the business was profitable until the death of József Peyerl at Christmas, 1943.
However, the condition of the building deteriorated by the 1960s, so the North Buda Catering Company, which took over the operation a few years later, decided to demolish it instead of renovating it, so the former house was reborn in the style of a Kalocsa farmhouse.
Due to its cuisine, it was an important element on the gastronomic map of Budapest even in the 80's. Francois Mitterrand, Tony Curtis and Kabir Bedi ate here, but even before it was closed, most of the feedback from satisfied guests could be read on its social media site.
Luxury residential park home from SZOT resort
The contemporary press was also happy to report on famous personalities living on Rózsadomb, such as crown prince Joseph Franz, who moved with his new wife to the villa in Aranka Street that still stands today. Life on Rózsadomb changed a lot after World War II. After the communist takeover, these villas were confiscated by the socialist state and assigned them to its own elite. Naturally, the vernacular responded to this as well, and mockingly began to call the area Káderdűlő (cadre slope).
The image of Rózsadomb is still defined by the SZOT (National Council of Trade Unions) resort typical of the period. The construction of the resort began in 1968; of course the building of the spa hotel was criticized by many for its alienation from the landscape. The hotel, which dominated the panorama of Buda, did not survive the privatization; at first it was partly demolished, but the reconstruction was not completed, and the building stood as a torso on the hillside for a long while. During the recent decades, demolitions, transformations and changes of ownership have followed one another. It seems that now the intricate history of the resort has reached the end finally. The former prefabricated building was pulled down - due to outdated architectural work - and then a luxury residential park home with nearly a hundred apartments was built on the plot. The construction work was hampered by another feature that defines the area: there is a 7-km-long cave beneath the building.
Translated by Zita Aknai