VII district street art budapesti

Budapest has long been home to some of the world’s greatest artists, musicians, poets, and writers and it seems fitting for this collective creative energy to seep through the very walls of its buildings to the streets outside. Everywhere in Budapest is art. But most of the city’s street art can be found in the 7th district; the city’s Jewish Quarter. And it certainly lends a lift to the otherwise pervasive dark history of the area. From the tiniest of political protests taking up no more space than a matchbox to murals covering entire outer walls of buildings, the 7th district seems to have art on every surface. I took advantage of Budapest’s free walking tours to learn something about the artists behind the work, and perhaps the insight to understand their messages. I don’t remember everything I learned during the art tour… and the tendency of street art to disappear or be covered with something else makes it hard to find information about it online, but the following photos represent some of the work I saw, with notes in the captions where I could add them :)

The fellow in this photo was our walking tour guide. Although we were not allowed to record video or audio during the tour, photography was OK. I didn’t catch his name… and thinking back on the tour, I’m not sure he actually gave it to us. He did say that in his former career he was a lawyer, a common profession in Hungary, but he didn’t make enough money as a lawyer to cover his bills….. so he became a walking tour guide instead, a job that has taken him all over Europe. These tours are free… and available in all of Europe’s major cities. The guides cannot legally charge people for the tours, but they can accept tips. Apparently, in Hungary you make more money taking tips for giving tours than you do charging a rate for legal services.

The fellow in this photo was our walking tour guide. Although we were not allowed to record video or audio during the tour, photography was OK. I didn’t catch his name… and thinking back on the tour, I’m not sure he actually gave it to us. He did say that in his former career he was a lawyer, a common profession in Hungary, but he didn’t make enough money as a lawyer to cover his bills….. so he became a walking tour guide instead, a job that has taken him all over Europe. These tours are free… and available in all of Europe’s major cities. The guides cannot legally charge people for the tours, but they can accept tips. Apparently, in Hungary you make more money taking tips for giving tours than you do charging a rate for legal services.

Artists: Fekete Zsolt and Melka Gabor ; Belvaròs, Vàroshàza Park

Artists: Fekete Zsolt and Melka Gabor ; Belvaròs, Vàroshàza Park

The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Hungarian Ernő Rubik. According to the artist, this mural reflects on the fact that in life “there is always a solution – and not just one.”

The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Hungarian Ernő Rubik. According to the artist, this mural reflects on the fact that in life “there is always a solution – and not just one.”

It was hard to get a good shot of this mural, by  Neopaint , but I loved the way it made the building disappear into the blue sky.

It was hard to get a good shot of this mural, by Neopaint, but I loved the way it made the building disappear into the blue sky.

This mural overlooks the garden at Mika Tivadar, a bar in Budapest’s Jewish District, and represents Hungary’s tradition of food and drink. Artist: Mika Tivadar ; Kazinczy u. 47

This mural overlooks the garden at Mika Tivadar, a bar in Budapest’s Jewish District, and represents Hungary’s tradition of food and drink. Artist: Mika Tivadar ; Kazinczy u. 47

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Mural on Kazinczy utca ; Artist: Akacorleone

Mural on Kazinczy utca ; Artist: Akacorleone

Budapest’s smallest mural!

Budapest’s smallest mural!

A creation by the group  Neopaint , this mural shows the common ties between Polish and Hungarian cultures. The words read: “Hungary and Poland are two forever-living oaks, which have their own trunks, but their roots are far beneath the earth: they have joined and invisibly merged. So the existence and strength of each one is tied to life and health of the other.” — Stanislaw Worcell

A creation by the group Neopaint, this mural shows the common ties between Polish and Hungarian cultures. The words read: “Hungary and Poland are two forever-living oaks, which have their own trunks, but their roots are far beneath the earth: they have joined and invisibly merged. So the existence and strength of each one is tied to life and health of the other.” — Stanislaw Worcell

A beautiful mural depicting swallows, a bird that represents tranquility. Artists :  Károly Mesterházy and Színes Város ; Akácfa Utca

A beautiful mural depicting swallows, a bird that represents tranquility. Artists: Károly Mesterházy and Színes Város ; Akácfa Utca

In a number of places throughout the city you will find a single word posted on the corner of a building… it’s like a treasure hunt! You have to find all the words to discover the sentence they make…

In a number of places throughout the city you will find a single word posted on the corner of a building… it’s like a treasure hunt! You have to find all the words to discover the sentence they make…

…our tour guide did the work for us and showed us the colage he made on his phone.

…our tour guide did the work for us and showed us the colage he made on his phone.

This mural depicts a window washer and roofer, working on the building. I am not sure of the artist…?

This mural depicts a window washer and roofer, working on the building. I am not sure of the artist…?

Sidewalk art with the iconic symbol for Budapest’s satirical political party, Two-Tailed Dog. These colorfully painted sidewalk cracks can be seen in many places around the city… and are said to be a statement to the government regarding the poor state of infrastructure in some places.

Sidewalk art with the iconic symbol for Budapest’s satirical political party, Two-Tailed Dog. These colorfully painted sidewalk cracks can be seen in many places around the city… and are said to be a statement to the government regarding the poor state of infrastructure in some places.

“Murals for Freedom” by artist Okuda San Miguel ; Dob Utca

“Murals for Freedom” by artist Okuda San Miguel ; Dob Utca

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This mural… known as “Budapest isn’t so small…” shows the size of the Jewish Quarter in comparison with the rest of Budapest, and is aimed to encourage people to get out and explore.

This mural… known as “Budapest isn’t so small…” shows the size of the Jewish Quarter in comparison with the rest of Budapest, and is aimed to encourage people to get out and explore.

The woman in this mural on Rumbach Sebestyén Street is Elisabeth of Bavaria, the wife   of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.  There is an entire section of the city named after her, Erzsebetvaros (Elizabeth Town).

The woman in this mural on Rumbach Sebestyén Street is Elisabeth of Bavaria, the wife of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. There is an entire section of the city named after her, Erzsebetvaros (Elizabeth Town).

My favorite part of the tour was when our guide stood in front of a blank wall and told us it was the location of a piece by Banksy, which depicted the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sitting on top of a toy train. Orban, whose behavior seems on-point with mini-dictatorship, recently used taxpayers’ money to fund the construction of a private railroad to his home in a small village outside Budapest, where he also used tax-payers’ money to build an Olympic-sized soccer stadium with access from his front door. Banksy’s image disappeared even more mysteriously than it appeared, though it has never been determined who actually erased it. Nevertheless, it swiftly became an icon amongst those not in favor of Orban’s right-wing agenda… and you can find replicas of the original popping up all over the city (see below).

My favorite part of the tour was when our guide stood in front of a blank wall and told us it was the location of a piece by Banksy, which depicted the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sitting on top of a toy train. Orban, whose behavior seems on-point with mini-dictatorship, recently used taxpayers’ money to fund the construction of a private railroad to his home in a small village outside Budapest, where he also used tax-payers’ money to build an Olympic-sized soccer stadium with access from his front door. Banksy’s image disappeared even more mysteriously than it appeared, though it has never been determined who actually erased it. Nevertheless, it swiftly became an icon amongst those not in favor of Orban’s right-wing agenda… and you can find replicas of the original popping up all over the city (see below).

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