TRAVEL with pat and lew

* our 19th century Budapest apartment

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007

our living room in Budapest

If we had been shown the building in person, we would never have stayed there. But then we would have missed a remarkable setting which transports us to a different age. Our apartment for the next two weeks is on Rakoczi Ter, named for Ferenc Rakoczi, a Transylvanian count who was a leader in the failed revolt of 1703-1711.

We enter at street level through a heavy metal gate. The elevator is dark and out of order; we will never use it. We carry our luggage up three flights and pass through another locked iron gate leading to a passageway and finally, to our apartment door. Our enormous bedroom is connected to an equally large living room with French doors opening onto a small balcony, the two rooms 100 feet from end to end. We gaze open-mouthed at the twenty foot ceilings, chandeliers and numerous wall sconces, oriental carpets, antique wooden armoires, plush velour sofas, chairs and benches, all slightly worn.

stained glass windows in our apartment

The most amazing feature is an entire wall of stained glass windows created by the same artist whose work is a centerpiece in the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building. We are immersed in 19th century opulence, updated with a modern kitchen and curved bathtub.

The seven story building was constructed in 1896 by a wealthy Jewish family. Our rooms appear to have been sections of the original apartment which would have been used for entertaining. It is impossible not to wonder what happened to the family that lived in these rooms. Did they escape before the Nazis started rounding up Jews or were they shipped off to Auschwitz?

These questions haunt many buildings in Budapest.

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