Budapest Opera House Great Architecture and Performances
The Hungarian Opera House in Budapest's district VI. awaits you with rich musical programmes throughout the year in. The architecture of the building in itself worth a visit.
Even if you aren't an opera fan, a visit to the State Opera House is a must.
Located on the elegant Andrássy Avenue you'll find numerous other sights, restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood.
Location of the Opera House: Andrássy út 22., district VI., Millennium Underground (M1 metro line) Opera station.
Guided Tours in the Opera House
Visiting the Opera House, if you don't have time to attend a performance: Tours in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian or Hungarian start every day at 15.00 and 16.00 all the year round (exc. Christmas: on 24., 25. and 26. December there will be no guided tours, on 31. December: the tours start at 13.45 and at 14.45, on other days during the holiday season tours start at at 15.00 and 16.00). Tours start at the main entrance. See more on Christmas and New Year opening hours of Budapest attractions.
Tickets for a guided to tour:
- 2 900 HUF/person,
- 1 900 HUF for students with ISIC card,
- 20% discount with Budapest Card and free for children under the age of 6.
History and Architecture
Budapest Opera House will enchant you not only with its ballet and opera performances but with its fine neo-Renaissance architecture.
The building fits well in with the similarly elegant neighbourhood on Andrássy Avenue. Hungary's greatest Historicist architect, Miklós Ybl designed the building for the Millennium celebrations in 19th century.
Construction started in 1875 and the building was finished in 1884. Ybl oversaw the work himself with painstaking care.
The building cost a lot of money, the auditorium was decorated with more than 7 kgs of gold. Hundreds of statues and paintings decorate the Budapest Opera House both inside and out.
Emperor Franz Joseph financed the construction, though he received little recognition for his generosity. He in turn didn't appreciated the architect's work on the opening ceremony: "It's very beautiful. I like it very much." was all he said about Europe's most magnificent and modern opera house.
Budapest's second opera house, the Erkel Ferenc Theatre on Köztársaság tér in district VIII. belongs to the Hungarian State Opera House.
Statues of the world greatest composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi adorn the main facade. Seated statues of Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, the first director of the Opera House stand on the sides of the main entrance.
Wrought iron lamps decorate the main entrance. Two imposing stone sphinxes guard the main entrance.
On the right you'll find the entrance for artists, while on the left there's a carriage-way and entrance to the Royal Staircase.
In the niches at the first floor level statues of the four muses of opera reside.
Statue of Ferenc Erkel composer
Massive street candelabra in front of the main entrance
Statue of Ferenc Liszt
The Interior of the Budapest Opera House
The interior boasts a impressive foyer with a double grand staircase and grey marble columns supporting the arches. Works of famous Hungarian artists decorate the interior.
Beautiful frescoes and statues represent mythological motifs. Mosaic tiles cover the floor that resemble to ancient Greek mosaics. The three-storey high, horseshoe-shaped main auditorium can seat nearly 1,300 people.
On the ceiling you can see Karoly Lotz's breathtaking frescoes depicting Olympus and the Greek gods. A huge gilded chandelier hangs down from the ceiling. Every level has a different layout and decoration. Gold and red dominate the lavish auditorium that reflects elegance.
Do visit the buffet in the break not just for a glass of nice Hungarian wine, but it's a splendid site in itself. On the ceiling you can admire main events from Dionysos life. Landscape paintings by Árpád Feszty decorate the sidewalls.
During the reconstruction between 1980-84 the Opera House regained its original splendour to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its opening.
The Budapest Opera house soon became one of the leading cultural venues of Europe. Ferenc Erkel, composer of Hungary's national anthem and founder of the Hungarian opera, was the first director. Gustav Mahler also directed the opera house and personally directed two Puccini operas here. Other famous conductors include Otto Klemperer or Sergio Failloni.
Programs and Tickets to Opera Performances
You can choose from 50 major performances, including operas and ballets during the main season between September and mid-June. In 2006 you can view performances like the Verdi's Aida, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Puccini's Madame Butterfly or Wagner's Parsifal.
Several programs of the Budapest Spring Festival and the Autumn Festival (Budapest Cafe) take place in Budapest Opera House.
Tickets are affordable, the price ranges from 400 HUF to 9,900 HUF. To get a good seat you'd better book in a couple of days in advance. Cheaper tickets are usually available until the last minute but they for seats with poor view of the stage.
Tips to buy ticket to the Opera and Ballet performances with a good view:
If you want to sit in a box, make sure you ask your ticket to the front row. The second and third rows are not elevated, so people sitting in front of you can block your view. For gallery seats, buy ticket for the middle, on the sides you won't be able to see most of the stage.
Where to Buy Tickets:
- Ticket office of the Opera House: on the Hajós Street side near the sphinx
Tel: + 36 1 353 0170
Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11.00 to the beginning of the performance (to 17.00 pm on days when there's no performance), Sundays and holidays: 11.00 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to the beginning of the performance.
- Ticket office of the Erkel Theatre
Address: Köztársaság tér 30., VIII. district, Tel: + 36 1 333 0540
Opening hours: Tue-Sat: 11.00 to the beginning of the performance (to 17.00 pm on days when there1s no performance), Sundays and holidays: 11.00 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to the beginning of the performance.
What to Wear in the Opera in Budapest - Dress Code
In Hungary people always dress up when they go to a theatre or to the Opera. Women usually wear nice evening dresses, while men wear dark suits. Wearing jeans and a T-shirts doesn't mean that you'll be sent home from the entrance, but it's not nice to feel out of place because of your clothes.
My advice is that put on something simple, but elegant. Make sure though that you feel yourself confident and comfortable in your dress.
Other Attractions Nearby
Walk along the sycamore tree-lined Andrássy Avenue, and you can admire fine villas, elegant palaces and buildings of cultural importance.
Charming squares, like Jókai SQuare or Liszt Ferenc Square lie on both sides of the boulevard with benches inviting you to have a rest and restaurnats to have a meal.
Andrássy Avenue also offers plenty of cafés and restaurants, if you feel like having a hot drink with a cake or something more substantial.
The beautiful Drechsler Palace opposite the Opera House today is the home of the Hungarian Ballet Institute.
Nagymező utca crosses Andrássy Road near the Budapest Opera House. Because of the numerous places of night life entertainment like the Moulin Rouge and various theatres and the Operetta Theatre, the street has been long called Pesti Broadway.
The Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music offers an alternative to a night at the opera.
It has a large concert hall with excellent acoustics. Besides its classical music performances, the Art Nouveau building represents another good example of Budapest's great architecture.
Where Andrássy út crosses the Grand Boulevard the buildings form an octagonal shape square, hence it's name: Oktogon. From here continue strolling on Andrássy Avenue and on its end you'll reach the imposing Heroes' Square with the Millennium Monument and the City Park behind it.
TIP: see a guide to other main attractions in Budapest.
Where to Eat near Budapest Opera House
Andrássy Avenue offers a wide selection of fine restaurants and cafés, moost of them with outdoor terraces. Here are some of our favourites:
Address: Andrássy út 20.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 12.00-24.00
Website: Callas cafe
The Callas cafe is the most obvious choice housed in a 19th century neo-Renaissance palace right next to the Opera House.
A stylish cafe with Art-Deco design by David Collins (his most famous works include Madonna's apartment, the Gordon Ramsay and The Wolseley restaurants in London) offering excellent food, and delicious cakes. There is also breakfast. An ideal place for a cocktail before an opera performance.
The Bigfish - Seafood Bistro
Address: Andrássy út 44., district VI.
A bistro offering seafood dishes in city without sea.
You pick a fish, crab, oyster from the counter and the staff will prepare it for you.
You can also have pasta dishes and soups
There is also also fish and chips: 1890 HUF (or 1390 HUF if you take away).
Madame Noi - Indochinese Restaurant - CLOSED (will move to a new location)
Address: Andrássy út 8. - will open in Se ptember 2013.
Website: Madame Noi
A new place to sample authentic Asian (Thai, Vietnamese) cuisine. The restaurant is part of the Baldaszti Group that owns a couple of other foodie places in the city: The Zona Food and Wine Bar at Lánchíd utca 7/9., and a gourmet food market at Lánchíd utca 5.
Address: Andrássy út 29., VI. district
Open: Mon-Sat: 9.00-22.00, Sun: 10.00-22.00
Tel: +36 1 343 3544
For a Vienna-style coffeehouse-feeling pop into Művész. Although both the coffee served here and the service seemed better days a while ago, its grand interior decor is worth a visit.
The cakes and tortes are scrumptious though: try a slice of Dobos torte, or Andrássy cake, Gerbeaud or Eszterházy cake.