They say that not everything that glitters is gold, but neither everything that is in ruins is forgotten. The Romkocsma or Ruin Bars are proof of that, historical bars that have reinvented themselves and invite you to have a good time.
Many, many years ago, on the left side of the Danube river was Buda, and on the right side was Pest, two cities that joined forces to form the current capital of Hungary at the end of the nineteenth century. A lot of episodes prior to this chapter, in the first century B.C., the Celts occupied the land to practice their magic rituals. Later, it became a Roman settlement, and in the year 1000 Hungary was born under the command of its first king, Stephen I. The Mongols, Turks and Austrians made war booty of the territory and (despite seizing it in rough battles) all of them contributed to the architectural and cultural beauty it boasts today. Several revolutions, two world wars and a fight for independence on, the country is a parliamentary republic.
Why are we telling you this? All these tribes and wars have rendered the country, especially Budapest, a reputation for being a somewhat rude city, making you walk into a Gothic fairy-tale rather than one with a happy ending. And this is true in the best of meanings! The city has a fairly dark mysticism that captures you for its originality, and even though the battles left scars in its architecture, its inhabitants became one of the world’s gentlest peoples, welcoming newcomers with ease ready to tell their story and -why not- invite them to a have a drink. This is the context that surrounded the occurrence of the ruined bars, an option to have a great time without spending much. Abandoned, worn buildings with improvised furniture and decoration became in just a few years the coolest trend in the city to go out to party. An orderly chaos where you can have a drink for two euros. If you want to discover them and enjoy yourself while immersed in their legends, these are our recommendations:
Szimpla Kert. Kazinczy u.14, 1075
Its name means “simple garden”, which probably has something to do with its terrace, open in summer, or its disassembled car that serves as a table. There are also film projections and, of course, plenty of plants! It was the first ruined bar to open its doors in 2001 and has since kept its crown as the most prominent. Check what’s on at szimpla.hu to know what events will take place during your visit, they always have something new going.
Photos: 1. Alex Barrow. 2. Jorge Franganillo. 3. Ms. Sara Kelly
Akácfa u. 49-51, 1072.
It will take you a little while to realise what the place you are standing in is all about, with disco balls hanging off the ceiling next to pieces of furniture, flying animal figures and psychedelic art everywhere you look. You will step into an extraneous dimension in several rooms where you will be able to listen to different types of music. And it will please you to come across some charted terrain on the menu: beer and burgers.
Photos: Ms Sara Kelly
Fogas hàz. Akácfa u. 49-51, 1072.
Its motto is “it will be easy for you to come in but very difficult to leave”, something that you will find out for yourself at the theme parties hosted in this building which displays an industrial touch, local art and lightning emerging from its wall projections and lip-shaped lanterns. Its name, “the dentist’s house”, came about from an old advert found in the building. Such simple and spontaneous is this bar’s personality.
Király u. 46, 1061.
For those looking for a good bar to start the party early, watch sports or listen to original concerts, this venue was opened with interior and summer-perfect exterior areas on top of which whirling jellyfish float about. A blue whale that adorns the main wall will be your company to start off the night well. We recommend it as a first stop if you want to embark on a pub crawl.
Corvin Club. Blaha Lujza tér 1-2, 1085
An electronic music paradise awaits you in this “ruin bar”. In summer, enjoy the fresh air on its terrace, which offers a panoramic view of the surroundings. In winter, when the air is rather too fresh, you will simply have to head downstairs; there you will discover some robotic lighting that draws inspiration from the 80s. A little bit of retro, a little bit of electro…
Language: Hungarian is the official language.
Currency: Hungarian Forints. One pound equals 356 forints.
Climate: In winter, the average temperature is 2°C, while in summer it reaches 30°C. The most pleasant weather is from May through to September.