Budapest's architecture spans Roman ruins and award-winning contemporary buildings, with plenty of treasures in between. I've grouped them chronologically below and this map will help you find them.
The city has an excellent architecture center, Fuga, also selling English-language books about Hungarian architecture. The Walter Rózsi-villa, home to the Hungarian Architecture Museum, is located inside a wonderful modern building from the 1930s with original Marcel Breuer furniture on exhibition. The Center of Contemporary Architecture (KÉK) offers thematic walking tours led by competent locals.
In the 1st century CE, the Roman Empire extended to the Danube, with the river serving as its eastern border. Aquincum, situated in the northern part of today's Budapest, was the capital of Lower Pannonia province with a population of 40,000 in its heyday. While Budapest's Roman ruins are relatively small, they're accessible for free, easily reachable from downtown by public transport, and usually deserted, so you can have these two-thousand-year-old remains to yourself.
#1 - Two notable Roman ruins in Budapest
No rival to the Baths of Caracalla, but Thermae Maiores, pictured above, was a vast public bath in Aquincum complete with several steam rooms and a gym (and today with a concrete overpass running above it). A 15-minute walk from here is the Aquincum Military Amphitheater, once a 13,000-capacity stadium – again, no Colosseum – used for gladiator combats and chariot races. You can visit Thermae Maiores for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (it's closed on Mondays); the amphitheater is accessible at all times. The nearby Aquincum Museum has more Roman ruins. Location.
Middle Ages to the early 19th century
Few buildings in Budapest predate the 19th century for three main reasons. First, new constructions weren't a priority when Ottoman Turkey occupied the city (1541-1686) since Hungary was on the western fringes of the empire. Apart from putting up a few hammams, the Ottomans simply converted the existing housing stock to fit their needs, for example churches into mosques.
Second, many medieval buildings were destroyed during the 1686 siege of Buda when the Christian Holy League clashed with the Ottomans to retake the city. For example, both the Gothic-Renaissance Buda Castle and the Gothic synagogue of the Castle Hill were demolished.
Third, as part of a massive urban development program in the 19th century, whole downtown neighorhoods were reduced to rubble to make way for grander buildings and a more systematic urban environment (similar to Haussmann's remake of Paris). Unfortunately, many Baroque and other historical homes were knocked down along the way.
#2 - Church of Mary Magdalene (mid-13th century)
One of the first Gothic buildings in Budapest, Béla IV of Hungary commissioned the Mary Magdalene church to serve the city's Hungarian community (the German residents attended the nearby Matthias church). In 1792, for the coronation of Habsburg Francis as King of Hungary, they added the neoclassical entrance portal. After WWII bombings damaged the church, the hardline and anti-religion Communist regime of the early 1950s decided to tear it down instead of renovating it. Only the late-Gothic, four-story tower has remained, soaring above the city and offering stunning views. Location.
#3 - Residential homes on the Castle Hill
Budapest's Castle Hill is split between the royal castle and the civilian quarters lined with residential homes. The countless battles waged on this small piece of land – most recently WWII – left many of the original buildings damaged, but the Baroque and in some cases modern facades stand on medieval walls. The neighborhood's winding streets, such as Táncsics, Fortuna, and Úri utca, still exude a charming, historic air. Location.
#4 - Király Baths (1565?)
Built by Sokollu Mehmed pasha in the 16th century, Király Baths is one of the few remaining buildings in Budapest that dates back to the city's century-and-a-half occupation by Ottoman Turkey. The small openings on the hemispherical dome admit little daylight, lending a mysterious ambiance to the hammam beneath. Of Budapest's thermal baths, this one is popular among local residents, too. Location.
#5 - Tomb of Gül Baba (1548)
Gül Baba, "Father of the roses," was a muslim spiritual leader (dervish) who died in 1541, when Ottoman Turkey occupied Budapest. His octagonal limestone tomb (türbe) is set on a quiet and thrillingly beautiful area with sweeping views of the city. For the best experience, climb up on Mecset Street through the rose garden and exit on the other side down the winding Gül Baba Street. Location.
#6 - Inner City Parish Church in Pest
Built on the remains of a Roman fortification, this church is a palimpsest of architecture, reflecting two thousand years of history: the external buttresses and the arched windows with tracery – on the sides and in the back – come from the Gothic era; the 16th-century mihrab (prayer niche) bears witness to the Ottoman rule; the towers and the dynamic facade date to the Baroque period. There's a lookout point in the tower with striking views. Location.
#7 - University Church (1723-1742)
Budapest's Baroque treasure, the Roman Catholic University Church, was built on the site of a mosque after the city's Ottoman occupation. Most captivating is the building's richly decorated interior, especially the tectonic main altar and the exuberant pulpit loaded with gilded figures. Also note the beautiful carved oak details on the entry door and the pews. The church initially belonged to the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, the one and only monastic order that originates in Hungary, but today it's part of a seminary. Location.
#8 - Budapest City Hall (1727-1735)
It's fascinating to picture what this huge building, still one of the largest in the city, looked like in the village-like Budapest of the 18th century surrounded by a few dozen flimsy houses. Built as a hospital and rehab facility for wounded soldiers, the complex later became a military barrack, and today it's home to the City Hall and the Mayor's Office. A sweeping renovation is long overdue. Location.
#9 - Erdődy-Hatvany Palace (1750)
Unlike in Vienna, only a few Baroque residential palaces have remained in Budapest – just one on the Pest side, a few more on the Castle Hill. The Erdődy-Hatvany Palace mirrors the arc of Hungary's political-social history: built by the Habsburg-friendly aristocracy (Erdődy) in the post-Ottoman period, purchased by a Jewish industrialist family (Hatvany) in 1912, confiscated by the SS in 1944, then nationalized by the Communist state. Today, the palace houses the Institute for Musicology, while the Hatvany's coat of arms still adorns the tympanon. Location.
#10 - Lutheran Church of Deák tér (1799-1811)
A somber elegance imbues the main church of Budapest's Lutheran community on Deák tér. From the outside, a simple pattern of rectangular and thermal windows and a band of triglyphs and metopes wrap the building (the porticoed front is a later addition). Inside, the amazing space plays off against the austere white walls and all attention is directed toward the altar, which features a magnificent copy of Raphael's Transfiguration. Mihály Pollack's church is a study in how to extract much from little. The neighboring buildings also belong to the Lutheran congregation and include a museum and a high school, hence the name: Insula Lutherana. Location.
#11 - The old Tigris Szálló (1839-1840)
Beside Mihály Pollack, József Hild was Budapest's chief architect of the first half of the 19th century, with hundreds of buildings to his name (he also built a dazzling cathedral in Eger). Tigris, which means tiger, was an upscale hotel in the heart of the old town, featuring 130 high-comfort rooms to which leading politicians came to stay. An amazingly grand staircase and a hallway supported by stone Doric columns bespeak the glorious past, as well as the stone tiger still perched atop and guarding the entrance. The excellent restaurant on the ground floor, Hilda, is named after the building's architect. Location.
#12 - Hungarian National Museum (1837–1847)
Mihály Pollack's Hungarian National Museum harks back to the time when the buildings of ancient Greece and Rome inspired architecture – Neoclassicism – hence the classical temple front supported by giant Corinthian columns and topped by pedimental sculptures (the central figure is the personification of Pannonia, the Roman-era province that became Hungary). There's even a rotunda in the building, a pastiche of the Pantheon, although its oculus is glassed in to protect the artworks. The building houses the oldest museum in Hungary, with a comprehensive permanent exhibition about the country's history. Location.
#13 - Széchenyi Chain Bridge (1839-1849)
Those two triumphal arches soaring heroically from the Danube? They're part of the Chain Bridge, a major Budapest landmark and the first permanent connection to span the Danube between Buda and Pest. When it opened in 1849, the iron chain suspension was considered to be modern and technologically advanced. As with the city's other bridges, German soldiers blew up the Chain Bridge in 1945 to slow the advancing Soviet army (it was rebuilt by 1949). Location.
Revival Architecture (second half of 19th century)
In 1867, Budapest became the joint capital of Austria-Hungary alongside Vienna. The next half a century marked Budapest's golden era, when, inspired by Paris and Vienna, grand boulevards, monumental plazas, and eye-catching revival architecture sprung up across the city at a head-spinning pace. Today, still, these buildings – a kaleidoscope of Neoclassical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque Revival styles and combinations thereof – dominate Budapest's urban landscape.
#14 - Dohány Street Synagogue (1854-1859)
Europe's biggest synagogue, in Dohány Street, anchors Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. When it was built, people believed that a national Jewish architecture should feature Moorish elements to evoke Jewish people's eastern origins, hence the yellow-maroon bands and decorative motifs on the facade. Commissioned by the reform community, the inside so much resembles a Christian church, for example the bima is placed not at the center but the front where the altar is, that ultra-orthodox Jews avoid the building to this day. On the rear side, there's a smaller, modernist synagogue from 1931 wrapped in travertine that honors Jewish-Hungarian soldiers who died in WWI. Location.
#15 - Vigadó (1859-1865)
Frigyes Feszl's Vigadó is regarded as the first attempt at establishing a Hungarian national architecture. Feszl's facade is a complete mishmash of the various buildings styles of the past: Gothic tracery appears within the five central bays of segmental arch, which are flanked by ancient basilica fronts with medieval battlements and columns. Stone statues of Hungary's historic figures are sprinkled throughout. Go figure. Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Dvořák, and Bartók are among the notables who performed at this downtown concert hall over the years. Location.
#16 - Rumbach Street Synagogue (1870-1872)
An important early work of Viennese starchitect Otto Wagner, the synagogue in Rumbach Street was built for Budapest's orthodox Jews who considered the nearby Dohány Synagogue too modern for their taste. Here, the Moorish elements are even more dominant: the slender cast iron frame is filled with thin masonry clad in Alhambra-like decorative motifs, inside and out. The building functions as a museum currently. Location.
#17 - Andrássy Avenue & the Grand Blvd. (1876, 1896)
Inspired by Haussmann's Paris and the Viennese Ringstraße, these two major thoroughfares have profoundly shaped Budapest's fabric. The elegant Andrássy Avenue stretches from downtown to the City Park, while the Grand Boulevard is Budapest's main artery, connecting five neighborhoods. The Renaissance palazzo-looking apartment buildings lining them were homes to the rising bourgeoisie and the old aristocracy. Location.
#18 - Nyugati railway station (1874-1877)
Prompted by London's Crystal Palace (1851), glass and cast iron construction became all the rage across Europe by the second half of the 19th century. People saw beauty in the exposed metal frames even without a masonry cladding. Budapest's Nyugati railway station was the first major iron structure in Hungary, designed, characteristically, by the office of Gustave Eiffel (together with the Austrian August Serres). There's a nice contrast between the skeletal central buildings and the brick-faced offices and waiting halls flanking it. (Bizarrely, the exquisite dining hall has been home to a McDonald's since 1990). Location.
#19 - Hungarian State Opera House (1875-1884)
Erected during the great wave of opera-building in the second half of the 19th century, Miklós Ybl's lively late-renaissance (neo, of course) exterior features deeply recessed loggias on the first floor covered by gilded barrel vaults and spread across five bays. Statues of famous composers atop the balustrade and within the niches adorn the facade (the Hungarian-native Franz Liszt is to the right of the entrance). The decorative program is even more unbridled inside, rich with marble, gold, and mahogany fittings. Location.
#20 - Várkert Bazár (1875-1883)
In an effort to beautify the Castle Hill and its Danube bank, architect Miklós Ybl populated the hillside with a cluster of Renaissance buildings. Ybl, also in charge of the Opera House, connected the mixed-use pavilions with conspicuous pergolas that bring to mind the Berlin works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). Várkert Bazár, today a popular lookout point, provides spectacular open vistas to both the Royal Palace and the meandering river. The bronze statue at the center of the fountain depicts the Greek sea god, Triton. Location.
#21 - Saxlehner Palace (1884-1886)
I always get Palazzo Farnese vibes from this astounding Renaissance building right at the entry point of Andrássy Avenue. While the whole facade is clad in polished limestone, the piano nobile – with the principal rooms, originally inhabited by the owner – draws attention to itself with alternating peaked and rounded window pediments. Atop one of those rests a bronze copy of Michelangelo's Dawn and Dusk from the Medici Chapel. Architect Győző Czigler's building was commissioned by the Saxlehner family, wealthy industrialists in charge of a thriving mineral water company who hired the best craftsmen for the interior details too. Location.
#22 - Batthyány Palace (1884)
If you have a hunch that you've already seen this heavily rusticated early-renaissance building somewhere else, you're correct: the Batthyány Palace is a near-faithful replica – although much smaller in size – of the 15th-century Strozzi Palace in Florence. The fact that people saw fit to erect an actual duplicate shows the extent to which historicism in architecture engulfed Budapest in the 19th century. (Interestingly, the palace in Florence was designed by the same Benedetto da Maiano who also worked for Hungary's Renaissance king, Matthias Corvinus.) Location.
#23 - Wenckheim Palace (1886-1889)
In the second half of the 19th century, wealthy Hungarian aristocrats drove a building boom in what's called the Palace Quarter. When not in their countryside estates, they entertained lavishly in the fast developing capital city. A good example is the sumptuous Baroque Revival palace of the Wenckheim family (for more eye candies like this, visit the nearby Pollack Mihály Square). Today, the building belongs to the Szabó Ervin Library but some of the upper floors have retained their original splendor and can be visited for a small fee. Location.
#24 - New York Palace (1891-1894)
The colossal New York Palace symbolizes the excesses of Budapest's golden period in the late 19th-century. This outsized Baroque palace features the usual suspects – strong central axis accented by elongated Ionic columns – but there's also a rooftop cupola reaching for the sky. Why? Why not, the building appears to tell us. The New York Life Insurance Company commissioned starchitect Alajos Hauszmann to design this representative building, which still dominates Budapest's Grand Boulevard. An iconic coffeehouse, New York Cafe, is on the ground floor, nearly collapsing under its heavy ornaments. Location.
#25 - Supreme Court Building of Hungary (1893-1896)
Regarded as the main work of Alajos Hauszmann, the building of what used to be the Supreme Court of Hungary (until 1949) shows more restraint than the New York Palace, above – a Roman church front flanked by two small towers and symmetrical colonnaded wings. Inside, there's the obligatory decorative program complete with grand staircases, gilded walls, and marble columns. Until recently, the Museum of Ethnography occupied the building, which is currently under renovation. Location.
#26 - Matthias Church (1255; 1896)
Little has remained of the modest medieval church that once stood on the Castle Hill and where Habsburg Franz Joseph was crowned King of Hungary in 1867. A couple of decades later, architect Frigyes Schulek reimagined the building into this exuberant Gothic Revival structure with colorful roof tiles rising over Budapest (similar to how Viollet-le-Duc "extended" the medieval Notre-Dame in Paris in the 19th century). The dim and quiet inside offers a respite from the throngs of tourists (there's a small admission fee). Location.
#27 - Vígszínház (1896)
No, this isn’t a Borromini church parachuted in from 17th-century Rome; the lively building before you is a beloved Budapest theater from 1896, built in the Baroque Revival style (prevalent in in this neck of the woods, but no so much outside Central Europe). Notably, the architect duo, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, designed a total of 48 theater buildings, mostly across Austria-Hungary. The rich and tectonic surface treatment encapsulates the whole building, although in that typically budget-friendly Central European style: using stucco rather than stone. Location.
#28 - Great Market Hall (1894-1897)
Architect and university professor Samu Pecz dreamed up several romanticized Gothic Revival buildings across Budapest, the most famous of which is the main market hall of the city. The exposed steel frame structure allows for an airy and light-filled inside, the thick masonry walls lend a sense of medieval craftsmanship, and Zsolnay's colorful glazed ceramic roof tiles bring it all together. Location.
#29 - House of Parliament (1885-1904)
This Gothic Revival extravaganza stretching along the Danube's bank is Hungary's biggest building. The Hungarian Parliament's resemblance to Pugin's and Barry's Westminster Palace is no coincidence – architect and university professor Imre Steindl was an expert of Gothic architecture and the familiar design was meant to lend enhanced authority to the building. Parts of it are open to visitors, including the hall with the Holy Crown of Hungary, and what used to be the Upper Chamber. Location.
#30 - St. Stephen's Basilica (1851–1906)
Named after Hungary's first king, the canonized Stephen, Budapest's biggest church combines various elements: the facade is characteristically renaissance (Alberti's Sant'Andrea in Mantua comes to mind), the half-circle of colonnades in the back resembles the ancient church of Tivoli, and the dome shows parallels with Michelangelo's Saint Peter's Basilica. Sculptures of Hungary's saints grace the inside as well as a beautiful painting by Gyula Benczúr showing the moment when Stephen offers the Holy Crown to the Virgin Mary. The dome provides panoramic vistas (there's an admission fee to both the church and the dome). Location.
#31 - Millennium Monument (1896–1906)
Hungary's national monument on Heroes' Square was built to celebrate in style the country's thousand-year history (thankfully, it's less bombastic than Italy's national monument from around the same time). Two sets of curved colonnades enclose bronze statues of Hungary's historic figures. In the middle of the square rises a Corinthian victory column surrounded by equestrian statues of ancient chieftains. Perched atop it is the long-winged Archangel Gabriel, who, legend has it, appeared in the dream of Pope Sylvester II and advised him that these brave Magyars are now ready to join the Christian nations of Europe. Location.
#32 - Buda Castle (1896-1905)
It was in the early 20th century that the impressive Buda Castle took its final Baroque form (the palace's last resident was Miklós Horthy, Hungary's leader between the world wars). The building was badly damaged in WWII and stood empty for decades before a characteristically 1970s remodeling of the inside permitted the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, and the Széchényi Library to move in. Below the building hide the remains of the original Gothic-Renaissance palace of King Matthias that can be accessed through the Budapest History Museum. Location.
#33 - Museum of Fine Arts (1900-1906)
It sprung up after the peak of the Neoclassical period, but I’ve always been drawn to the giant Szépművészeti Museum on Heroes' Square. The square-facing facade has a trio of columnar porches topped by a triangular pediment, transporting to Budapest the churches of ancient Greece and Rome (the inside features specially fitted halls with Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque themes). It’s worth walking around the building to observe the beautiful Renaissance details of Albert Schickedanz’s creation. The museum's stunning permanent collection includes paintings by old masters such as Raphael, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya (these are my favorites). Location.
#34 - Kossuth Mausoleum at the Fiumei Road Cemetery (1903-1909)
Some of the most unbridled architecture of the Austro-Hungarian period is found at the Fiumei Road (Kerepesi) Cemetery, where Hungary's greats are laid to rest. Take the mausoleum of the anti-Habsburg statesman Lajos Kossuth, whose sarcophagus is solidly protected from all sides: a winged Genius with a chained lion atop the baldachin; the personification of Hungary in the middle; and a pair of growling panthers at the bottom. Feel free to roam the whole cemetery which feels more like a manicured park (free admission). Location.
#35 - Vajdahunyad Castle (1904–1908)
What seems like a fairy-tale castle inside Budapest's City Park was initially a temporary object made in 1896 for the festive events celebrating Hungary's millennium. The complex incorporated dozens of famous buildings from across the Hungarian Kingdom, including the Romanesque church in Ják, the fortified tower of Segesvár, and the Castle of Vajdahunyad. The structure turned out to be so popular that they kept it, rebuilding everything with lasting building materials (instead of wood). The Museum of Agriculture occupies parts of it today. Location.
#36 - Párizsi udvar (1909-1913)
If there were an award for the most attention-grabbing building in Budapest, then Párizsi udvar would be a strong contender. Architect Henrik Schmahl loaded the facade with a rich ornamental program that climaxes in the ceramic pinnacles soaring from the roof level. The overall vibes are Gothic-Moorish, that is to say, reminiscent of a birthday cake with lots of caramelized elements. While the building is currently home to five-star hotel, there’s a cafe on the ground level cafe open to all and a good way to glimpse the inside. Location.
#37 - Apáczai Csere János High School (1911-1913)
Classical architecture resurfaced in the early years of the 20th century to counter what many thought were decadent and individualist overreaches of the Art Nouveau. Classical forms, the reasoning went, projected enduring humanist values. This oversized block of a high school jettisoned into a narrow downtown street is the most amusing expression of this idea: the rusticated lower levels and the brick facade culminate in several Greek temples resting atop the building, complete with stocky Doric columns. See it to believe it (brought to you by architect Kálmán Reichl). Location.
Art Nouveau and pre-modern (late 19th and early 20th centuries)
In the end of the 19th century, Art Nouveau eclipsed the historicist style, which by then was viewed as outdated. It was Ödön Lechner who pioneered Hungary's unique brand of Art Nouveau: Using folk art motifs as inspiration, Lechner wanted to create a distinct Hungarian national architecture. Some call him the “Gaudi of Hungary,” as Lechner's playful and brightly colored glazed ceramic decorations and expressive shapes loosely resemble those of the Spanish master. As shown below, other strains of Art Nouveau – Belgian, Austrian, German –also appeared in Budapest.
Architects of the next generation took Lechner's approach in different directions. Some of them, like Károly Kós, further explored the frontiers of a national Hungarian architectue. Others, most notably the brilliant Béla Lajta, left behind the sinuous shapes of the Art Nouveau altogether and designed some of the first pre-modern buildings in Europe in the early 20th century.
#38 - Museum of Applied Arts (1893-1896)
In the pursuit of a Hungarian architecture style, Ödön Lechner's Museum of Applied Arts pays homage to ancient Indian and Persian art. Lechner's inspiration came from the ethnographer, József Huszka, who mistakenly believed that Hungarian tribes had overlapped with these cultures. Apart from the decorations, which later Lechner himself described as a bit over-the-top, also unusual were the spatial flow of the connected open spaces and the enormous steel-framed sky window. The building is currently undergoing renovation and can't be visited. Location.
#39 - Postal Savings Bank (1900-1901)
Lechner's Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Postal Savings Bank, nestles on a quiet downtown street. Take a close look at the facade: the floral patterns appearing throughout, the subtle vertical partitions of pale yellow brick, the undulating battlement motifs topped with glazed ceramics, and the collection of symbolic creatures (the bees signal industry and hard work). The building has retained a fresh, novel appearance and the unmistakable hand of Lechner. For a better view of the intensely green and yellow roof tiles, walk to the nearby corner of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Road and Nagysándor József Street. Location.
#40 - Kőrössy Villa (1899)
While Lechner's style was most unique to Hungary, other strains of Art Nouveau also appeared across Budapest. This richly decorated family home lining the elegant Városligeti fasor evokes the French and Belgian Art Nouveau (architect Albert Kálmán Kőrössy, who studied in Paris, built it for his own family). The building's facade features omega-shaped windows and a parade of plant and animal motifs, including a pair of peacocks flaunting their feathers. Location.
#41 - Viennese Art Nouveau buildings on Liberty Square (1899-1901)
The stunning trio of Art Nouveau buildings overlooking Liberty Square is a good example of the early Vienna Secession style (Otto Wagner’s Medallion House at the Naschmarkt might have been the inspiration for architects Aladár Kármán and Gyula Ullmann). The low-relief vertical decorative elements seem to be cascading down on all sides: sinuous plants, a riot of caduceus and Medusa heads, some of them gilded. The buildings are part of the United States embassy today. Location.
#42 - Gresham Palace (1904-1906)
With prime views onto the Danube, the Chain Bridge, and the Castle Hill, downtown's Gresham Palace stands on what's arguably the most valuable piece of real estate in Budapest. Originally built for the British Gresham Life Assurance Company, an army of Hungary's top craftsmen worked on this Art Nouveau landmark. The rich decorative details – glass mosaics, immense ironworks, tectonic wall reliefs – are impossible to take in in their entirety. The building, which is currently home to a Four Seasons hotel, exemplifies the best of Budapest's golden age. Be sure to also peek inside. Location.
#43 - Török Bank Building (1906)
The outsized glass mosaic panel – the biggest in Budapest and made in the renowned atelier of Miksa Róth – depicts the patron saint of the Hungarian nation perched on her throne and surrounded by historic figures such as Miklós Zrínyi, Ferenc Rákóczi, István Széchenyi, and Lajos Kossuth. Architects Ármin Hegedűs and Henrik Böhm designed an otheriwse restrained facade with great steel-framed vertical windows across three bays that tastefully counterpoint the rich mosaic tiles up top. Location.
#44 - Modern & Breitner Building (1910-1912)
In the first years of the 20th century, at the peak of the Art Nouveau in Hungary, all sorts of striking architecture appeared in Budapest. This immense downtown building was inspired by the German Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) and is the work of the prolific architect duo, Sámuel Révész and József Kollár. Luxury apartments, including an artist's studio in the corner tower, were on the upper levels while stores occupied the lower floors. Location.
#45 - Ödön Lechner's Vermes House (1910-1911)
As with all great architects, Lechner let himself be inspired by his pupils, some of whom turned to Otto Wagner's brand of Viennese Secession. Their prototype was Vienna's Postsparkasse, with its planar surfaces covered in gray rectangular slabs “anchored” to the walls by simple decorative rivets. While adopting this vocabulary, Lechner, whose last building this was, remained true to his own Art Nouveau as shown by the undulating cornice, the shape of the window sills, the details of the wrought iron balcony, and the Zsolnay-filled vestibule. Location.
#46 - OTI Tower (1912-1913; 1930)
The brick-faced tower dedicated to workers’ compensation might have been inspired by Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building (a vertically enlarged Florentine palazzo). Dozens of stone reliefs stretched across its side wings show gruesome scenes of work-related accidents. The architects, Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab, were Ödön Lechner's pupils, which is manifested by the magnificent folk patterns on the facade and the wooden doors. In 1930, they plopped a “skyscraper” tower up top, which has since been removed due to health concerns (the cement contained bauxite residues). Location.
#47 - Calvinist church, Budapest Dist. 7 (1911-1913)
Ödön Lechner's legacy and the desire for a national architecture spawned a new vernacular style in the early 20th century. Rather than simply applying folk motifs as wall ornaments – as Lechner did – architects turned to stronger tectonic expressions of native forms (the Arts and Crafts movement and Lars Sonck's Finnish national architecture were sources of inspiration). Case in point is the Calvinist church of outer District 7 by Aladár Árkay, featuring archaic shapes, rough-textured stone, mythical motifs, and a soaring "folk-style" tower. Location.
#48 - Adria Palace (1912-1918)
This polished limestone-dressed building smack in the middle of Budapest once belonged to a Trieste-based insurance company, later became the headquarters of the Budapest Police, and today houses a Ritz-Carlton hotel. The symmetrical layout and the French balconies bring a subtle sense of classicism to the otherwise spare modern facade, while the gleaming white walls and flat roof evoke the Mediterranean and hence the company's home base. The building, which was designed by Emil Tőry and Móric Pogány, took so long to build because of the ongoing World War I. Location.
#49 - Parisiana (1907-1909)
Designed by Béla Lajta, the Parisiana was originally an upscale cabaret venue (today it belongs to a theater company). The expensive gray marble slabs – each with a slightly different shade and level of marbling – juxtaposed with small openings conveys something like forbidden luxury. There's a row of stocky gilded copper cherubs perched atop the building and holding stained glass letterings. Concurrently with this one, Lajta worked on a Jewish mortuary commission, which might explain the Parisiana's "Mesopotamian" look. Location.
#50 - District 8 High School of Commerce (1909-1913)
This high school building, also by Béla Lajta, emerges unexpectedly on a narrow Budapest side street in District 8. Lajta was plugged into the latest architectural developments in Germany and Austria and sometimes this showed in his works. The thick Gothic-style masonry and the vertically repeating stepped pilasters squeezing sharp-cut windows hark back to Alfred Messel's Wertheim department store in Berlin (Lajta had worked for Messel). Still, Lajta left his own signature with the Hungarian folk art motifs crowding the entry doors and the gleaming Zsolnay tiles throughout the inside. Location.
#51 - Béla Lajta's Erzsébetvárosi Bank (1911-1912)
This brick-faced mixed use building by Béla Lajta demonstrates how far some of Ödön Lechner's disciples steered from their master's path. While the delicate terracotta folk art motifs still hark back to Lechner's Art Nouveau, the horizontally grouped windows, the largely unadorned exterior, and the flat roof call modern buildings to mind (decades before they appeared en masse). The facade logically indicates the function of each floor: oversized windows for the commercial levels at the bottom, more privacy for the residential apartments up top. Location.
#52 - Czech-Hungarian Industrial Bank (1912-1913)
A student of both Lechner and Lajta, Béla Málnai was a protean architect and among the first to design pre-modern buildings in Budapest with a classicizing streak. The Czech-Hungarian Industrial Bank's novel feature was the steel-framed bay windows projecting from the corner. Rich Renaissance motifs in mahogany (!) accent the lower floors and play off against the otherwise plain stone walls, while a small tower caps the building with an elegantly overstretched cornice. Location.
Between the World Wars (1918-1945)
Thanks to Hungarian students and teachers at Germany's Bauhaus school – including some well-known figures such as Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy – modern ideas in architecture spread to Hungary relatively quickly. Especially notable is the work of Farkas Molnár, a star student who worked at the architecture practice of Bauhaus Director Walter Gropius.
In 1925, Molnár returned to Hungary to advance the cause of the modern movement as the head of the local International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM). He laid out ways to improve public housing and city planning, practicing together with Marcel Breuer and József Fischer for a short period. Molnár also designed more than two dozen buildings in Budapest – pioneering residential homes and small apartment complexes – before being tragically killed during WWII.
Modern architecture had its adversaries at the time. The political establishment and the conservative middle class favored a more traditional Baroque Revival style, which meant that modern buildings in the 1920s were relegated to small-scale, private commissions. In this environment, truly modern houses – like those designed by Molnár – became status symbols for the urban, educated elites that viewed the Baroque Revival as politically and socially outdated.
Naturally, most buildings from this time fell some way along the spectrum, between the rigidly historical and the experimentally modern. By the 1930s, the modern movement became more accepted.
#53 - Cistercian High School of Buda (1927-1929)
The richly ornamented yellow facade of this Cistercian secondary school wouldn't feel out of place in 18th century Europe, and yet the building was erected in 1929, providing a good example of the Neo-Baroque architecture that resurfaced in Hungary between the world wars. The church, next to the school and designed also by Gyula Wälder in a similar manner, is from 1938. Location.
#54 - Electrical Distribution Station of Lipótváros (1926-1931)
This former electric power distribution station – designed by Ernő Román and Dénes Györgyi and today used as an office space – is among the most successful Art Deco buildings in Budapest. Delicate brick buttresses decorate the walls, which are lined with steel-framed thin, vertical windows. Carved in limestone, the seal of the city of Budapest appears above the entry door. Location.
#55 - Napraforgó Street Housing Development (1930-1931)
In 1930, a renowned real estate developer, Fejér & Dános, commissioned a motley crew of 18 top architects to design model homes for middle-class families in the modern style of the day (similar to the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart). The result is the 22 single-family houses on the leafy Napraforgó Street in Pasarét, a Budapest suburb. The roster of architects included heavyweights such as Lajos Kozma, László Vágó, Gyula Wälder, Farkas Molnár, and József Fischer. Unfortunately, some of the buildings have been neglected or rebuilt since, but the overall modern look of the street is still visible. (Note that Pasaréti út provides a view of the other side of the buildings.) Location.
#56 - Dálnoki-Kováts Villa (1932)
This award-winning villa perched above its residential neighborhood is the most celebrated building of Farkas Molnár, the Bauhaus-graduate who led the modern movement in Hungary in the 1920s and 1930s. Even today, the comfortably modern house complete with oversized rooftop terraces and geometrical forms feels very much contemporary despite being nearly a hundred years old. Unfortunately, it's privately owned and difficult to access even for a glance (the best view is from Apor Vilmos tér). Location.
#57 - Városmajor Roman Catholic Church (1932-1936)
The eye-catching classical modernism of Mussolini-era Italian architecture rippled out to Hungary, too. But instead of going for the bombastic, the Városmajor Church impresses with less: The arched colonnades, the sleek walls clothed in travertine, the standalone bell tower, and the ambient quiet of the area have a haunting presence. Architects Aladár and Bertalan Árkay commissioned contemporary modern painters and sculptors, including Vilmos Aba-Novák, for the interior decorations. Location.
#58 - Dunapark Apartment (1935-1936)
Parts of the Újlipótváros neighborhood sprang up as a result of a sweeping real estate development between 1933 and 1943. Thanks to strict zoning laws, today the highest concentration of modernist apartment complexes is found here. The most spectacular is a Danube-facing luxury building at 38 Pozsonyi út: the limestone-clad facade hides a dramatically exclusive lobby with a spiral staircase featuring marble finishes and custom blue-rubber floors. It's worth waiting for a chance to sneak in for a glance. The historic Dunapark Café is located on the ground floor. Location.
#59 - Walter Rózsi Villa (1936)
One of the few modern jewels in Budapest that’s open to the public. Local CIAM-member József Fischer, a close friend and colleague of Marcel Breuer, designed the villa for opera diva Rózsi Walter and her husband Géza Radó. The gleaming white light-filled building elegantly raised on pilotis and featuring a free and flexible floor plan evokes Le Corbusier’s architecture. While the main attraction is the building itself (be sure to also go to the backyard), there's a small exhibition inside about modern living with a few period design pieces. Location.
#60 - TÉBE House (1932-1934)
What at first glimpse appears to be a regular modernist building from the 1930s turns out to be more interesting than that. István Medgyaszay (1877-1959), a pupil of Otto Wagner, explored how architecture could combine modern elements with nationalist sentiments, so he applied traditional Transylvanian decorative motifs on the balcony and the slender vertical bands flanking the loggias. He used concrete instead of wood, after all, this is the heart of Budapest and not a forest village in the Carpathians. We can also detect an outsized cornice projecting from the flat roof, a signature of the Otto Wagner disciples. Location.
#61 - Manfred Weiss Pension Fund Apts. (1937-1938)
This upscale apartment development on the Buda side is also the work of Béla Hofstätter and Ferenc Domány, the architect duo behind the exclusive Dunapark Apartments on the other side of the Danube (see above). The streamlined shapes, high-quality building materials, and sumptuous interior details – the lobby and the staircase are stunning – show modern architecture at its best. Location.
#62 - Madách Houses (1937-1938)
Madách Houses consist of eleven striking brick-faced buildings that separate the old Jewish Quarter from downtown. We see a classicizing brand of modern architecture with elegant details, such as the subtle geometric patterns on the maroon facade and the arcaded ground floor lined with travertine. The central arch was supposed to be the grand entry of a boulevard piercing through the neighborhood but its construction was halted during WWII and never continued. Location.
#63 - Postal Office of District 7 (1937-1939)
Gyula Rimanóczy's Postal Office in District 7 is one of the few large-scale modern public buildings of the inter-war period. The pushed-back facade leaves ample space to appreciate its sheer size, which spans the entire block. Rectangular building blocks and stone statues jut out from the travertine walls to lighten up this immense and elegantly reserved building. Location.
#64 - MEZ Building (1941-1942)
This streamlined building straddling the corner of Párizsi and Petőfi Sándor Streets in downtown is an especially successful example of modern architecture in Budapest. When it opened in 1942, luxury apartments with a telephone, dishwasher, and built-in furniture occupied the upper floors, while stores lined the downstairs. The building's architect, Gedeon Gerlóczy, is also known as the rescuer of the paintings of Tivadar Csontváry. Location.
Architecture during the four decades of Communist rule in Hungary (1947-1989) was more varied than most people think. Modern buildings continued to appear until 1951 when, as in other Communist countries, Socialist Realism became the state-imposed art form. In architecture, Socialist Realism combined classical elements with communist ideology – imagine a Doric-columned portico decorated with joyful laborers.
By the mid-1950s, Socialist Realism ran its course and architects were permitted to return to the sleek modern designs of the West. Since state control of architecture wasn't as strict as of that of the fine arts, there exist tastefully modern buildings from this time, especially up to the 1960s.
Overall, however, capital constraints, volume pressures, limited access to construction materials, and an incompetent state bureaucracy meant that many Budapest buildings from the late 1960s and especially the 1970s haven't stood the test of time. This period is also culpable for the complete neglect of the country's pre-war housing stock.
Apart from Hungarian-born Marcel Breuer (about whom I wrote a longer piece), it's Imre Makovecz whose name might ring a bell for architecture fans around the world. Makovecz created a unique brand of organic architecture in Hungary. He was years ahead of his time: in the 1960s, when unadorned white boxes still defined much of mainstream global architecture, Makovecz was already fiercely pursuing his own aesthetic and intellectual paths, seeking to bridge the built and the natural environments. Makovecz's buildings are mainly in the Hungarian countryside, but both of his main Budapest works are featured below.
#65 - MÁVAUT Bus station (1948-1949)
This landmark-protected former bus station in the heart of Budapest is a real treasure of modern architecture. István Nyiri designed two sleek, light-filled buildings dressed in limestone and fieldstone – departures on one end, arrivals on the other – that are connected by what used to be the loading area. Lined with bars and restaurants, the venue has found a new purpose in the 21st century. Location.
#66 - MÉMOSZ HQ (1948-1950)
Once the headquarters of the construction workers union, the building managed to arise just before Communist Hungary banned modern architecture in favor of Socialist Realism. The Minister of Culture at the time was especially irked because it occupied a high-traffic location by Budapest's City Park. Note the slender columns supporting a glass-clad conference room that juts out of the facade and the circular decorative holes punctuating the flat roof. This outsized modern building managed to age gracefully. Location.
#67 - Pantheon of Labor Movement - Kerepesi / Fiumei Cemetery (1957-1959)
Socialist Realism often conveyed Communist propaganda through statues using straightforward symbolism: self-assured, united, cheerful workers. This exclusive burial ground within Budapest's Kerepesi (Fiumei) Cemetery was reserved for prominent Communist Party members between 1958 and 1988. The cluster of limestone-covered pylons decorated with labor-themed reliefs culminates in three oversized bronze figures and the mausoleum shown above. In a neighboring plot, you'll find the grave of János Kádár (1912-1989), Hungary's long-serving party leader. Location.
#68 - Former Communist Party HQ, District 2 (1952-1953)
In line with the classical vocabulary of Socialist Realism, Greek columns, a projecting cornice, and rusticated walls decorate the local Communist party's former headquarters, stangely for 1953. Nonetheless, József Körner's building managed to retain a somewhat modern feel overall – in part by abstracting these forms (the columns are slender, the masonry motifs unpronounced). Before the fall of the regime in 1989, a five-pointed star was on top. Location.
#69 - Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (1954)
Some architects found inventive takes on Socialist Realism while remaining within the bounds of censorship. Zoltán Farkasdy, a noted architect and theoretician, attached an outsized portico with a triangular pediment to a totally undecorated frame. And thus formed a provincial Palladian countryhouse villa and a modern box, a contemporary new whole. Location.
#70 - University of Technology Building "R" (1951-1955)
The University of Technology's modern wing along the Danube's bank demonstrates yet another creative approach to the Socialist Realism of the early 1950s. Rather than a purely propagandastic statement, architect Gyula Rimanóczy designed a beautiful complex inspired by the brick-forward traditions of 1930s Nordic classicism. The Greek details of the entrance portico are abstracted just enough to make them feel their time (take a glance at the colossal lobby, too). Location.
#71 - Restored building on the Castle Hill #1 (1957-1959)
Much of the medieval and Baroque housing stock of Budapest's Castle Hill was destroyed during WWII. Architect Zoltán Farkasdy, who led many of the restoration works, was ahead of his time in 1957 when he emphasized that the renovations had to be contemporary but also respect the historical surrounding (instead of either putting up a modern box or a replica of the lost buildings). The house at 32 Úri utca accomplished this: it's of its time but lets the surviving Gothic details take center stage. Location.
#72 - Restored building on the Castle Hill #2 (1961-1963)
Just around the corner is another remarkable house from the same time (György Jánossy, its designer, was a close friend and contemporary of Farkasdy). Its pitched roof and brick walls wouldn't be out of place in medieval Buda, but the steel frames of the windows and their playful composition, the abstracted vertical recesses decorating the gable (instead of wooden beams) and the concrete base convey that this building is rooted in the present day while being respectful of its surrounding. Location.
#73 - Elisabeth Bridge (1961-1964)
As all of Budapest's bridges, the original Elizabeth Bridge (1896-1903), named after Hungary's favorite Queen, Sisi, was destroyed by the German military in 1944 to slow the advancing Soviet army. The new bridge, designed by Pál Sávoly, was a masterpiece both structurally – it was the first cable-stayed bridge in Hungary – and visually. The taut, gracefully skeletal white structure quickly became a Budapest landmark. Location.
#74 - Telco engineering plant (1961-1964)
Hungary’s industrial architecture was a bright spot in the Communist era, even drawing international acclaim in the 1960s. To appreciate this, head to the Buda side where the sprawling building of a telecommunications engineering plant – designed by Lajos Arnóth and Jenő Szendrői – seamlessly blends into the street view. The flexible interior spaces are clad by a calm brick exterior brightened up with delicate openings, metal shades, and the horizontal windows of the top floor. Location.
#75 - Körszálló Hotel Budapest (1964-1967)
A number of large-scale late-modern buildings emerged in the 1960s after the state lifted the censorship of architecture. One of the best examples is the Körszálló by György Szrogh, a 64-meter (210 ft) tall circular hotel towering over the Buda hills. Even if you aren't a guest, you can try asking the receptionists to let you up to the top floor to enjoy the sweeping open vistas. Location.
#76 - Electrical Distribution Station of Dob Street (1965)
Red bricks wrap around the reinforced concrete skeleton of this strangely eye-catching electrical substation designed by Ernő Léstyán and located in the heart of Budapest's District 7. Horizontal windows and a vertical wooden beam soften the monotony of the immense brick walls. A friend recently discouraged me from trying to explain the building. "You look at it and you either love it or you don't." Location.
#77 - Hilton Budapest (1973-1976)
Even if you find its 1970s curtain walls uninspiring, the Hilton in the Castle Hill has a number of unique features. For example, integrated into this five-star hotel are the remains of both a 13th-century Dominican monastery – with a playful modern spire – and a Baroque-era high school that once stood here. And the views are startling. Location.
#78 - Domus Furniture Store (1973-1974)
The 1970s were the low point for Budapest's architecture: money was short, access to high-quality building materials and Western influences hindered. It wasn't for the lack of trying. A talented architect duo – Antal Lázár and Péter Reimholz – put up this furniture department store, shaped like a reverse ziggurat and showing inspirations of Marcel Breuer's Whitney Museum (1966). Given the cheap cladding, however, the Domus hasn't aged well (here's a photo from 1975). Location.
#79 - Funeral Chapel at Farkasréti Cemetery (1975)
The idiosyncratic funeral chapel of the Farkasréti Cemetery is one of the two main Budapest works of visionary architect Imre Makovecz. The symbolic design is both subtle and intense: Repeating planks of beech wood form the shape of a human rib cage, the center of which holds the coffin, placed where the human heart is. Location.
#80 - All Saints Roman Catholic Church (1975-1977)
In 1975, this was the first Budapest church that the Communist regime permitted to be built (the previous one was in 1948). But since the state provided no money, the congregation had to rely on social workers for labor and the absolute cheapest materials. Architect István Szabó, also working for free, designed all of the interior details and the furnishings himself. And yet the powerfully expressive shapes and the immense craftsmanship give the building an enduring appeal. Location.
#81 - Prefab Residential High-Rises (1960-70s)
In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of residential apartments made of precast concrete slabs sprung up in Budapest to address the city's critical housing shortage. These high-rise blocks came with district heating and hot running water, amenities previously unavailable to many of the residents. But there was a price to pay: entire neighborhoods had to be wiped out to make space for these gray, lifeless, uniform boxes, which today account for almost 30 percent of Budapest's apartment stock. Location.
#82 - Sculptural walls on Gellért Hill (1975-1981)
Philosophers' Garden is a cherished hideaway on Gellért Hill with some of the best views of Budapest. Carved into the park here are the sculptural walls of a water storage facility that hides beneath the surface (architect: György Vadász). These concrete slabs formed like ambiguous geometric shapes have become as much part of Gellért Hill as the better-known statues on the hilltop. Location.
Postmodernism (1980s to the early aughts)
Postmodernism in architecture is a fluid concept but it generally refers to buildings exhibiting more local context, wall ornaments, and historical references than the plain modern boxes that preceeded them. While the majority of Budapest's postmodern buildings are absent the bombastic shapes and radical eclecticism that tend to grab people's attention, the selections below feature the most characteristic buildings of this style.
#83 - Liget Szálló (1990)
From overblown cornices to a motley collection of "misplaced" classical forms and strange color combinations, the postmodern repertoire prominently features on József Finta's 140-room Liget Szálló (today: Ibis Budapest Heroes' Square). The delicate bronze siren floating above the cantilevered ground-floor arcade dials up the idiosyncrasy. The playful building is located across the busy street from the Museum of Fine Arts. Location.
#84 - "Makovecz House" (1993)
Imre Makovecz, the renowned Hungarian architect, designed this four-story extension atop a neo-Renaissance building hidden in a Budapest side street. Take a deep breath: Vertically repeating blank pediments are flanked by elongated yurt-like towers whose windows are split by delicate light-blue columns. Notwithstanding the spectacle – it's impossible not to stop and try to make sense of it all – the building feels more self-serving than sensitive to its surrounding. Location.
#85 - Church of Hungarian Saints (1994-1996)
This collection of church buildings by architect Ferenc Török was supposed to be the Vatican’s pavilion for the 1996 World's Fair in Budapest but the event was canceled (today it's a functioning Roman Catholic parish church). Török skillfully juxtaposes and deconstructs various forms of Christian architecture: the underground chamber of funeral urns relates to the Roman catacombs, the hemispherical dome to the Byzantine places or worship, and the thick stone wall to the fortified medieval churches. Location.
#86 - Hungarian Police Headquarters (1995-1997)
The Hungarian Police Headquarters, colloquially known as the “Cops' Palace,” is the work of József Finta, a prolific and protean architect of the past half a century. This beautifully proportioned, 58,000 sqm giant masterfully evokes a host of associations by passersby, including a sphynx that fixes its vigilant gaze toward the city center. The building appears to consist of disparate elements, a hat tip to the deconstructivist style fashionable among brainy architects at the time. Location.
#87 - Lehet Market (2000-2002)
Love it or hate it, you'll likely get a kick out of this intentionally kitsch Budapest market hall designed by László Rajk. The boat-shaped building is packed with radically overblown historical shapes and loud colors, likely to call to mind the hustle and bustle of the busy marketplace inside. If you decide to visit, go on a Saturday morning when the place is liveliest. Location.
#88 - Hungarian National Theater (2000-2002)
Local architects have little love for Hungary's national theater, calling the building everything from kitsch apocalypse to a total failure. While it's true that the building has shortcomings both inside (poor acoustics, confined spaces) and out (cluttered decorative program that doesn't come together visually), this is nonetheless among the few large-scale postmodern buildings in Budapest and hence worth a visit. In fact, a Danube promenade with beautiful vistas leads to the building from downtown. Location.
#89 - Orczy Fórum (1994-2006)
Orczy Fórum is a massive real estate development within Budapest's outer District 8, a low-income neighborhood. With hundreds of apartments, vast office spaces, and even a private chapel, the cluster buildings brings to mind Louis Kahn's and Aldo Rossi's cerebral architecture and is a shining light in this badly neglected area. Orczy Fórum is the brainchild György Kévés, one of Hungary's most talented and versatile architects. Location.
Large-scale contemporary buildings in Budapest are fewer than you might expect. Deep-pocketed private developers are few, and the state-funded mega-projects tend to focus on the refurbishment of historical buildings rather than new constructions. The buildings below are some of the exceptions and well worth a visit.
#90 - Hattyúház (1998)
Hungary’s influential organic architecture movement helmed by Imre Makovecz produced most of its buildings outside of Budapest. A rare exception is Hattyúház at the foot of Castle Hill, designed by Ervin Nagy, Makovecz’s student and later partner. The massive commercial building’s primordial stone and wooden forms manage to both integrate into its locality and also draw attention to itself. Location.
#91 - Restored bldg. on the Castle Hill #3 (1999-2000)
Four decades after the initial reconstructions took place in the war-ravaged Castle Hill, a leading architect of the next generation, Péter Reimholz, got a chance to demonstrate his approach to restoring a medieval ruin. Instead of delineating old from new, he designed a clever brick-faced building that blends into and evokes its historical surrounding but also references its time. Location.
#92 - Müpa Budapest (2002-2005)
Müpa is a massive cultural center located along the Danube's bank. The warm neo-modern limestone exterior supported by slender pilotis encloses floor-to-ceiling windows that permit plenty of light. Inside, the transition of materials is gracious: from wood to metal to glass to stone. Designed by Gábor Zoboki, the building is home to the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, and also the National Concert Hall, known for its high-quality acoustics. Location.
#93 - CET Building (2006-2011)
The CET Building is a cultural and commercial center consisting of two restored 19th-century warehouses and a whale-shaped high-tech structure inserted in between (CET stands for Central European Time, and it also means whale in Hungarian). The building, lined with riverfront bars, is one of the few with direct access to the Danube. Location.
#94 - Budapest Music Center (2013)
This creatively remodeled pre-war building is a hallowed ground for music fans in Budapest. The former interior courtyard transformed into a concert hall, the basement is home to the popular Opus Jazz Club, while the upstairs houses a music library and guest apartments (composer György Kurtág lives in one of them). This cultural hub is the brainchild of musician and music publisher László Gőz, whose daughter was one of the building's architects. Location.
#95 - M4 Subway Stations (2004-2014)
The new stations of Budapest's metro line #4 show contemporary Hungarian architecture at its best. Each platform's design pays respect to its above-ground surrounding or to the station's moniker. The Fővám tér, with massive elemental concrete beams, and the mosaic-filled Szent Gellért tér stations won the prestigious Architizer A+ Award in 2014. Location.
#96 - Central European University Building (2014-2016)
The playfully indented stone and glass facade of the prestigious Central European University, designed by the Irish O'Donnell + Tuomey, beautifully blends into the 1820s downtown street view while asserting its presence. The inside, which is open for all to see, features expensive-but-understated details, unexpected color combinations, and some of the original walls. Location.
#97 - National Dance Theater & Széllkapu Park (2019-2020)
The attention-grabbing National Dance Theater building, designed by Gábor Zoboki's practice, is located inside the pristine Millenáris Park on the Buda side. Split only by a large window pane, the separation of inside and out is blurred as the blond wooden slats containing one of the high-tech performance halls overflow to the outside. Once here, it's worth seeing also the adjoining Széllkapu park. Location.
#98 - House of Music (2019-2021)
Renowned Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto designed the House of Music, a multi-purpose venue for performances, exhibitions, and lectures. The slender columns and glass surfaces infuse a sense of lightness while the punctured amorphous roof calls attention to itself without looking kitsch or ironic and without trying to dominate the surrounding park. Notwithstanding the merits, its location inside Budapest's City Park has sparked debate due to the loss of precious green space. Location.
#99 - Museum of Ethnography (2017-2022)
The recently completed Museum of Ethnography by Marcel Ferencz is a true spectacle: two enormous roof gardens spring forth from the ground, swooping up to tower over Budapest's City Park. A metal cladding decorated with folk motifs stretches around the building. A memorial for the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 stands between the two wings, in place of the square where state-mandated parades were held during the Communist period. Location.
#100 - MOL Campus (2018-2022)
Budapest has recently joined the long list of cities with a Norman Foster high rise to their names. Although pleasant to look at, the office tower basically feels like an off-the-shelf commission (made for the Hungarian oil and gas company, MOL). Some people worried that the building, which is now the tallest in Hungary, would disrupt Budapest's famously astonishing cityscape but I don't think that's the case – it’s far enough from the center to remain on the back-burner. There's a pricey restaurant on the top floor, the 28th, if you'd like to enjoy the views. Location.