Doorstep discoveries

I had an appointment to have an MRI during the week. I opted for a clinic I’d been to before, as I knew how to get there. It was relatively close to home but in my mind would entail public transport. But himself pointed out that I’d be quicker walking. One minute quicker, to be exact. So, off I took, wending my way through the back streets of the VIIIth district.

My first surprise was a fabulous Art Nouveau (am open to correction here, but I think that’s what it is) apartment building in need of repair opposite a school on Szűz utca (I wonder how Virgin Street got its name?). I stopped twice to look – once on the way there, and again on the way back.

On to Tavaszmező utca, where two majestic buildings sit opposite the Óbudai Egyetem (Óbuda University). From what I can find out, one is (or was) Magyar Királyi Állami Főgimnázium (Hungarian Royal State High School). Across from it, sits the equally splendid A. M. Kir. állami mechanikai és órás ipari szakiskola (State Industrial Mechanics and Clock School) – what it is now, I’ve no idea. The area has been pedestrianised and is a gorgeous spot, boasting a specialty coffee shop that I plan on revisiting. Műterem Kávézó has a newish old-looking coffee machine that I am now coveting.

Magyar Királyi Állami Főgimnázium


A. M. Kir. állami mechanikai és órás ipari szakiskola

Onward then to Mátyás tér, where I found where I want to live next. I have a thing for winter gardens. I’d been there years ago, before the area had a facelift, and had enjoyed an afternoon/evening of music and craic at a street party.Where have the years gone?

In the square, there’s a statue of Bauer Sándor, a young man I didn’t recognise but whose story I think worth repeating.

Born in Budapest in 1952, he lived for a while on my street, on Üllői út (not sure where, but I’ll be checking). Young Bauer realised quickly that in a Communist system, talent doesn’t count for much. It was all about who you knew, not what you knew. He read a lot, and was especially interested in history. In the cellar of his apartment building, he ran a youth club, attempting to get his contemporaries to see the evils of dictatorship and take the road of armed resistance. Tyranny and oppression were the enemy. In the afternoon of 20 January 1969, at the age of 17, he took himself off to garden of the National Museum at Kalvin tér, doused himself in petrol. and set himself alight. A few hundred people bore witness. 

A few days earlier, on 16 January in Prague, 21-year-old Jan Palach had done the same. He died on 19 January, the day before Bauer lit his match.  Bauer, apparently took his lead from him, telling onlookers that a cseh testvér is megtette (the Czech brother also did this).

Bauer wrote a will and farewell letters to his friends and family. With second- and third-degree burns covering 15% of his body, he was taken to hospital in critical condition. On 22 January, still in his hospital bed, Bauer was arrested. He died the next day. He was buried on 28 January in a closed funeral with details of his death and what he had done not made public until 5 February. His grave, apparently, was under watch for many years. A nearby street bears his name, though I’m not at all sure what the connection is with the area. I’m left wondering what purpose his death served. His mother, apparently, lived to see a new century. I wonder what she thought, too. 

I didn’t find all this out until later though, so unhampered by what I’ve only recently learned, I walked up Bauer Sándor utca on to Teleki László tér where I found a market hall, complete with stalls of fresh produce, great meat, and a few knickknacks to boot. And all within a 20-minute walk of my front door. How spoilt am I?

I really must get out more often.


4 Responses

  1. Walking around Budapest never ceases to amaze me. If it’s not striking architecture, it’s interesting shops. Like the beautiful woodwind shop just up the road from us.

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