Jewish Budapest

Tours, Sights, History, Events in Pest’s Old Jewish District

The twin towers of the Great SynagogueThe Jewish Quarter of Budapest (district VII.) is packed with historic and religious sights including:

  • the Great (Central) Synagogue in Dohány Street,
  • the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue
  • the Rumbach Street Synagogue
  • the Tree of Life monument,
  • the Jewish Museum.

The Jews played an important role in the history of Pest, Buda, and Óbuda (Old Buda), and after the unification of the previous three, in Budapest’s development.

Despite their persecution and the terror of the 20th century, we can still find many monuments of the once thriving Jewish Budapest.

The former Jewish Quarter in district VII. has a quaint atmosphere with characteristic people, striking contrast of crumbling buildings, and shiny new apartment blocks, unique monuments.

One of the Ruin Bars in District VII.
A Ruin Bar in District VII.

More and more unique cafes and bars (some of the famous ruin bars /romkocsma in Hungarian/ are located in the Quarter:

  • Szimpla kert,
  • Fogaskert,
  • Kőleves kert,
  • Lokál Cafe & Bar), design centers, art galleries, bistros  open in the area making it a hip place favoured by both locals and tourists.

Take your time to absorb this sometimes quirky part of the Hungarian capital!

Tree of Life in the garden of the Great SynagogueQuick Links: Heritage ToursJewish Sights in Buda and ÓbudaSights in Pest  –  Restaurants & Cafes in the Jewish QuarterJewish Events, Programs

TIP: Heritage Tours with Guiding in English or German

On these Jewish heritage tours of various length and depth you will be introduced to the history and the most beautiful monuments of the historic Jewish district of the Pest side by a professional guide in English.

Tour Dates in 2017:
  • from 01. May to 31. October: Monday-Thursday: at 10.00 and 14.00, Friday & Sunday: at 10.00
  • from 02 to 30. November: everyday (except Saturday) at 10.00.
the stone monument of Sztehlo Gabor and a standing clock next to it on Deak sqr.
The meeting point of tours on Deák tér
Note: There are no tours on Jewish holidays (2017):

  • May: 30, 31
  • June: 01
  • September: 20, 21, 22
  • October: 05, 06, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 23

Languages: The morning tours are available in both English and German language (except on Saturdays).

Meeting point for both tours: at the Sztehlo Gábor Memorial on Deák Ferenc Square, district V., M1, M2, M3 metro station.

After payment you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail with all the details including meeting place.

Select a Tour and Reserve it Online

The Difference Between the Two Tours

Both tours cover the monuments and history of the Pest side. The Grand Tour is longer (3.5-4 hrs) and more detailed than the Essential tour, and also includes a cake with coffee in a kosher pastry shop (lunch in a kosher restaurant can be also reserved at 10 % discount price).

Take the Essential tour (1.5-2 hrs) if you don’t have much time but want to learn about Jewish culture and history in a nutshell, as well as see the most important monuments.

Jewish Sights in Budapest

In Buda and Óbuda (Old Buda)

The first Jewish settlers arrived on the Castle Hill of Buda from Western Europe in the 1050’s in the areas of today’s Víziváros (distr. I.) and Óbuda (distr. III.).

By the 1200s Jews were in the most important economic positions in Buda.

This was a sore in many people’s eye so the representatives of the Catholic Church had persuaded King András II. to include in the Aranybulla (Golden Bull -special decree issued in 1222) that Jews were not allowed to fill in such positions.

Fortunately the fate of Buda’s Jewish community turned for the better during the reign of King Béla IV. who invited  merchants from Germany to make up for the loss of population caused by the Mongol invasion (1241-42). They paid substantial tax to the king too.

Buda’s Jewish quarter was on the western side of today’s Szt. György Square which were pulled down during the construction of the first Royal Palace. Part of the historic settlement had been restored but can’t be visited due to reasons unknown.

Remains of the synagogue were excavated in 1964 part of which operates as a museum exhibiting Jewish relics and gravestones (opening hours: from 1st May till 31st October: Tue-Sun: 10.00-17.00, tickets: full price: 800 HUF, students, pensioners: 400 HUF.).

The renovated labyrinthine cellar system that can be visited as of recently includes a small, 2-3 sqm ritual bath, the mikveh.

Mikveh – Ritual Bath in the Castle

TIP:The Ritual Bath filled with water in the Castle A historic Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) dated back to the 13. century has been unearthed recently at the Várkert Bazaar, a neo-Renaissance building complex at the foot of the Castle Hill.

The guided tours start every Monday at 14.00, 16.00 and 18.00. Tickets: 2 000 HUF/full price.

The 11th-century ruins can only be visited on a tour organised by Bupap that organizes tours for locals (guiding is in Hungarian).

Note: They have a 2-hour English language tour of the Pest side titled “the Vacant Jewish District” Price: 2 000/1 500 HUF.

The street level was 5 meters lower than today and the system includes a. The Képes krónika mentions that there stood a synagogue and a mikveh at the Fehérvári gate in medieval times.

The historic prayer house in Táncsics Street
The historic prayer house in Táncsics Street

The Small Synagogue and the Medieval Jewish Prayer house at 26. Táncsics utca remind us of the everyday life of the Castle District’s Jewish community.

During the 150-year Turkish reign the Jewish community of Buda vanished almost entirely.

In the 17th century German and Czech Jewish settlers established homes in Óbuda, Buda and Pest didn’t permit settlement of Jews until the end of the 18th century.

Under the patronage of the noble Zichy family the Jewish colony of Óbuda developed into a prominent community. In the 19th century the Reform Movement fought for giving equal rights to Jews too.

As a result of the movement’s efforts, Jews were free to settle down anywhere in Hungary including Pest and Buda. The Synagogue in Óbuda (Lajos utca 163., III. district) was built in 1820-21 in Classicist style, today it houses a TV studio.

Moses Muncz (1750-1831) was the rabbi of the community at that time whose grave you can see in the beautiful Jewish cemetery in Óbuda (Külső Bécsi út 369., III. district).

The memorial stone on the former Óbuda brick factory’s site marks the spot from where thousands of Jews were deported and sent to death under the terror of the Arrow Cross Party in 1944-45.

A nice garden surrounds the building of the secular Jewish Lauder Javne School (Budakeszi út 48. XII. district, bus No. 22. from Széll Kálmán tér) built in 1996. While you’re there, take a look at the building of the old Jewish kindergarden next to the school.

Jewish Monuments in Pest

Synagogues Tree of Life/Raoul Wallenberg ParkMartyrs’ CemeteryHeroes’ TempleGoldmark HallJewish Museum & ArchivesCarl Lutz MemorialSztehlo Gábor Memorial/Deák SquareRaoul Wallenberg Memorial/Erzsébet SquareShoes on the DanubeHolocaust Memorial Center

The Old Jewish Quarter – District VII.

In the 19th century Pest became the center of Jewish Budapest. Their religion, holidays and unique traditions made them form a community.
A Jewish quarter started to form in Erzsébetváros and Terézváros (VI. and VII. districts in Budapest).

The Synagogues in Pest

Three synagogues were built in the quarter: the most impressive of them is the Great Synagogue in Dohány Street built in 1859 in Moorish-Byzantine style.

Great Synagogue in Dohány Utca

Address: Dohány utca 2., district VII.

The main facade of the Synagogue in Dohány Street
Dohány Street (Central) Synagogue

Opening Hours (same as the museum’s): 01. March – 31. October: Sun-Mon: 10.00-20.00, Tue-Thurs: 10.00-18.00, Fridays: 10.00-16.30,  from 01. June: Sun-Thurs: 10.00-20.00, Fri: 10.00-16.30, Saturdays: closed

Tickets (without guiding, includes visiting the Jewish Museum):

  • full price: 3 000 HUF (2 700 HUF with Budapest card),
  • students, retirees: 2 000 HUF (1 800 with Budapest card),
  • children (ages 8-14): 800 HUF.
  • photo ticket: 500 HUF.
TIP: If you have only limited time make time for visiting the Great Synagogue and its surroundings. The two-towered temple can occupy 6000 people. It is a neolog synagogue meaning that the men and women sit in separate areas within the church, the service is in Hebrew, and the 5000-pipe organ provides music.

Tree of Life-Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park

the black marble memorial of Raoul Wallenber surrounded with stones left by visitors
Stones left in memory of the victims surround the memorial

Location: in the inner courtyard of the Great synagogue

Visiting the park: can be visited only with a ticket to the Synagogue/Museum. The Tree of Life monument can be seen from the street through the fence.

The silver metal weeping willow tree, the Tree of Life, stands in the Raoul Wallenberg Park (named after the Swedish diplomat who helped many Jews to escape from deportation in 1944-45).

It is located in the garden of the synagogue and the Jewish Museum.

It’s a very moving and sad monument created by Imre Varga in 1991 with the support of the Emmanuel Foundation (founded by Tony Curtis actor).

Names of the victims disappeared or died during the Nazi terror are engraved on almost each of the 30,000 leaves.

Monuments commemorate the names of other heroes like Giorgio Perlasca and Per Anger.

Tree of Life (Életfa) in The Raoul Wallenberg Park
Emanuel Tree of Life – a weeping willow made of chrome steel by Imre Varga commemorating the 600 thousand Hungarian victims of the Holocaust
Visitors taking photos of the Tree of Life

Martyrs’ Cemetery (Garden of Remembrance)

Location: in the courtyard of the Great Synagogue

gravestones in the Garden of RemembranceA small plaque on the Wesselényi street side of the synagogue marks the spot where once the gate of the Budapest ghetto stood in 1944-45.

Not far from the plaque stands the small Garden of Remembrance where those who died in the ghetto were buried during 1944-45.

Their names are engraved in the stone gravestones.

According to Jewish customs cemeteries are not supposed to be placed next to synagogues, but this one in the garden of the synagogue, overlooking Wesselényi Street, was created out of necessity during WW II.

Until the 2nd half of 1944 Budapest was reluctant to cooperate with the Nazis to collect and sent Hungarian Jews into concentration camps, though the Hungarian government (lead by Miklós Horthy) stood on the side of the Germans.

Adolf Eichmann arrived in the Hungarian capital in December 1944 to carry out the deportation and execution of Hungarian Jews and Roma people.

A ghetto was established between Király utca and Dohány utca.

Because of the cold and the state of war the people in the ghetto weren’t able to carry their dead to the cemetery and bury them properly so thousands of corpses were left at the walls of the synagogue for 40 days.

During the liberation of the ghetto on 18. January, 1945 thousands of unburied dead victims lay on the streets. 1140 known and 1170 unknown martyrs were buried in 24 common graves in the courtyard of the central synagogue. The Dohány Street Synagogue is the only synagogue in the world that has a cemetery in its garden.

Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives

Address: Dohány utca 2., district VII., next to the Great Synagogue, M2 (red) metro Astoria station, bus 7, tram 49 Astoria stop

religious artefacts on display in the museumOpening Hours (same as the synagogue’s):

  • summer season (01. March – 31. October): Sun-Mon: 10.00-20.00, Tue-Thurs: 10.00-18.00, Fridays: 10.00-16.30, Saturdays: closed, from 01. June: Sun-Thurs: 10.00-20.00, Fri: 10.00-16.30, Saturdays: closed
  • winter season (01. Nov-28. Feb): Sun–Thurs 10.00–16.00, Fri 10.00–14.00, Saturday: closed,[/checklist] Website
  • Jewish holidays 2016: when the museum & synagogue are CLOSED: 12-13. June Shavuoth, 02., 03., 04. 17., 18., 23., 24-25. October, 01. November, 24-25. December

Tickets (includes visiting the synagogue, without guiding):

  • full price: 3 000 HUF (2 700 HUF with Budapest card),
  • students, retirees: 2 000 HUF (1 800 with Budapest card),
  • children (ages 8-14): 800 HUF,
  • photo ticket: 500 HUF.
TIP: The Jewish Museum of Budapest on the left of the Great Synagogue has a collection of religious relics, historical documents, along with temporary exhibits. An arcade connects the museum with the modern-style Heroes’ Temple.

a Torah on display in the Jewish MuseumIt’s best to connect visiting the museum and the synagogue. The current exhibits are:

  • 100 Years – 100 Objects – the exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Jewish Museum in 1916 in a small apartment in Hold utca.
    The collection then consisted of 1500 pieces: mainly religious, ceremonial objects, and historical relics. To this special exhibit 100 objects have been selected that tell the rich and layered story of Hungarian Jewry.
  • Rosenthal lived here:  in the Goldmark Hall (Wesselényi u. 7.) – History of Jewish Pest from the late 18. century to present days.
    The turbulent story of Pest’s Jewish community is displayed in 10 time periods through 10 digital maps. A thorough insight into the everyday life of the people who lived there.

Heroes’ Temple

The Heroes's temple-garden viewThe temple connected with an arcade to the synagogue was built in 1931 according to the designs of László Vágó.

It can seat 186 people and is used for weekday worship services.

The Heroes’ Synagogue commemorates the 10 000 Hungarian Jewish soldier who gave their life for their country in the 1st World War.

A huge Star of David formed of Hebrew text adorns the entrance.

In winter the Friday evening and Saturday morning services are held here instead of the Great Synagogue.

Heroes' Temple: street view

Goldmark Hall – Exhibition, Family Tree Research

Address: Síp utca 12. – Wesselényi utca 7., district VII., entrance from Wesselényi Str.
Opening hours: Mon-Tue-Wed: 10.00-16.00, Thurs: 12.00-16.00, Fri: 10.00-14.00 tel: (+36 1) 413 5547

After the Raoul Wallenberg Park and the Heroes’ Cemetery you’ll find a 3-storey building which houses the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) and is the centre of Budapest’s Jewish Community.

The 12 reliefs on the facade symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel with their names in Hebrew.

The building also gives home to the Goldmark Hall, a multifunctional cultural centre named after Károly Goldmark world-renowned composer.

The Hungarian Jewish Archives has created a new permanent exhibition about Pest’s Jewish Quarter at the back of the room.

On the 1st floor you’ll find the Gyökerek/Roots centre where databases and resources are available for those doing a family research.

Carl Lutz Memorial

At 10., Dob utca on a small square you’ll find the Carl Lutz Memorial standing against a white wall on a tiny plaza. Lutz (1895-1975) as a Swiss diplomat had great connections with the Germans and Palestine thus he was able to help many Jews to flee from the terror.

Carl Lutz Memorial in Budapest
Carl Lutz Memorial
Cral Lutz Monument side view

The quote from the Talmud engraved on the metal plaque next to the monument says: “He who saves but one man is as if he had saved the whole world”

Carl Lutz Memorial Plaque

Rumbach Street Synagogue

From Dob utca turn left on Rumbach utca where another striking Synagogue stands completed in 1872.

facade of the Synagogue in Rumbach Street
The Rumbach Street synagogue District VII

Walk along Rumbach utca then turn right into Király utca, walk until you reach Kazinczy utca on your right. There stands the synagogue of Budapest’s Orthodox Jewish community.

TIP: Additional resources on the history and heritage of the Hungarian Jew: Jewish Virtual Library

TIP: Kazinczy utca was renovated in 2012, it is now one of the city’s most popular nightlife spot with lots of great garden pubs, bistros, food bars. Read more on Kazinczy Street.

Kazinczy Synagogue

Kazinczy Street Synagogue

Address: Kazinczy utca 29-31., district VII.
Opening Hours: 01. March – 31. October: Sunday-Thursday: 10.00-18.00, Friday: 10.00-16.00, 01. November – 28. February: Sunday-Thursday: 10.00-16.00, Friday: 10.00-13.00, closed on Saturdays
Tickets: 1 000 HUF

The huge, Art-Nouveau synagogue is unmissable in the narrow Kazinczy Street. It functions as the house of worship and teaching centre of Budapest’s Jewish community’s orthodox branch.

Béla Löffler and Sándor Löffler, disciples of Béla Lajta, designed the temple that was built between 1910-1913.

Besides the synagogue, the complex includes a Talmud school, a ritual bath (mikveh) and a kosher butcher.

From Kazincy Street turn right into Dob utca. You’ll reach a large park with a playground, Klauzál tér. Locals relax and chat on the benches while looking after their kids.

Photos About Klauzál Square & Park

Klauzál Market

the entrance to the market with a Spar logoThe Food Market on Klauzál Square was completely refurbished in 2015.

It was one of the 5 covered market buildings constructed at the end of the 19. century, including the famous Great Market Hall on Fővám tér.

Besides farmers selling vegetables and fruits, dairy shops, butchers there’s a large SPAR supermarket.

On the ground floor you’ll also find a bakery & cafe and there’s lángos – the locals’ street food on the gallery.

TIP: 10 firewalls of the district received a new look in 2013 and 2014: street artists painted colourful contemporary works on the grey walls giving the neighbourhood a vibrant, youthful vibe.

Mindenkinek van egy vvárosa painting at Dob utca 38.

Szabómesterek painting at Akácfa utca 41.

see more Firewall painting photos in our facebook album.

an elderly man ina green jacket standing at the Sztehlo monumentMonuments, Memorials in Downtown, District V.

Sztehlo Gábor Monument, Deák Ferenc Square

The monument was erected in 2009 in memoriam of Gábor Sztehlo (1909-1974), an Evangelist pastor who on behalf of his bishop organised the hiding of 1600 Jewish children in 32 homes with support of the Red Cross.

For this he received the Righteous Among the Nations title and the Yad Vashem medal in 1972.

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial, Erzsébet Square

The monument titled “Do not Forget!” by Gustav Kraitz was inaugurated in June 2014 in the downtown Erzsébet tér park.

a brown bronze brief case placed on black marble with white text etched in itThe bronze briefcase abandoned on a bench with the monogram R. W. in its front, reminds us that though we do not know what had happened to the Swedish diplomat after the Red Army had captured him, his heroic deeds are not forgotten.

The creation of the uncommon monument was initiated by the Embassy of Sweden in Budapest is a gift to the Hungarian state.

Shoes on the Danube

pairs of old-fashione dcats iron shoes on the danube bank, Chain bridge and Bud aPalac ein the backgroundLocation: Pest bank of the Danube, between the Parliament and the Chain Bridge

If you walk on the riverbank in Pest from the Parliament towards the Chain Bridge you’ll see pairs of shoes – men’s, women’s children’s – scattered on the pavement as if  their owners have just jumped into the Danube.

The 60 pairs of cast iron shoes commemorate the Jews shot into the Danube by the Arrow Cross Party in the winter of 1944-1945.

According to current data around 3 600 Jewish people living in Budapest were killed here during the cc. 3-month terror of the Hungarian Nazis.

The memorial – that was set up in 2005 -was initiated by Can Togay film director and he created it together with Gyula Pauer sculptor.

Restaurants & Cafes in the Jewish District of Budapest

If you’re tired of walking have a rest and a few bites in one of the numerous eateries (both kosher and non-kosher) situated in the area.

Frohlich Confectionery Budapest, entrance

Fröhlich Confectionery

Address: Dob utca 22., district VII.
Open: Mon-Thurs: 9.00 – 18.00, Fri: 9.00 – 14.00,
Sat: closed, Sun: 10.00 – 18.00
Tel: (+36 1) 266-1733

Although the building looks a bit run down these days, the flódni is fabulous: a cake with layers of walnut, poppy seed and apple filling.
An unpretentious cafe ideal for a cake and coffee break when exploring Jewish Budapest.

inside Cirkusz

Cirkusz

Address: Dob utca 25, Open: Mon-Wed: 08.30- 23.00, Thurs-Fri: 8.30 – 01.00, Sat: 9.30 – 01.00, Sun: 9.30 – 17.00

A new place right across Fröhlich with bright colours, spacious interior and their very own coffee roaster. Cirkusz is definitely will be one of my favorite places since they make coffee from freshly roasted beans.

Food is not bad either not to mention the homemade pies and cakes.

the tower of the Great synagogue from Socks coffee

Socks Coffee

Address: Dohány utca 1., district VII.
Open: Mon-Sun: 8.00-20.00

Socks Coffee is located opposite the Synagogue and offers specialty coffee drinks prepared from the freshly roasted beans of a Hungarian micro roaster, Lucky Cap.

A nice selection of cakes and pastries, fresh and delicious, smoothies and other healthy treats are also available. A great place for a coffee break before or after visiting the synagogue!

 

pasta in Osteria Fausto's

Osteria Fausto’s

Address: Dohány utca 5., district VII.
Open: Mon-Sat: 12.00 – 23.00
Tel: 269 6806

An exclusive Italian restaurant with top quality food. Always reserve a table.

indian dish in Shalimar

Shailmar Indian Restaurant

Address: Dob utca 50., district VII.
Open: Mon-Sun: 11.30 – 16.00, and 18.00 – 23.30
Telephone: (+36 1) 352 0297, 352 0305

One of the top Indian eateries in Budapest, Shalimar received mixed reviews on restaurant review sites. Some say the curry is very good, others claim that there are much better places offering Indian food in the city.

Read more about Shalimar on our Indian Restaurants page.

More Jewish Sights in Pest

Next to the synagogue in Páva Street opened the Holocaust Memorial Center (Holokauszt Emlékközpont) in 2004.

Holocaust Memorial Center

Address: Páva utca 39., X. district, M3 metro, trams 4,6 Ferenc körút stop
Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00, ticket office closes at 17.00
Website: Holocaust Memorial Center

Admission:

  • Free to children (the exhibits are recommended for children above 12), student’s groups (Advanced registration required), teachers, museologists, and senior citizens (70 and older).
  • full price ticket: 1 400 HUF (50% discount with Budapest Card).
  • For citizens of EU between 62-70: 700 HUF
  • For citizens of EU between 6-26 with international student card: 700 HU
  • for groups above 10: 1 100 HUF/person

Tickets are valid for the permanent and temporary exhibitions and for visiting the Páva utca Synagogue on the same day.

Guided Tours in the Páva Street Synagogue

The building of the Holocaust Memorial Center – a combination of classical and modern architecture

Guided tours available by appointment in Hungarian, English, German, French, and Hebrew.

Tour in Hungarian/groups under 20 persons: 6 300 HUF, Tour in other language/groups under 20 persons: 8 800 HUF

The Center’s permanent exhibition titled From the Deprivation of Rights to Genocide depicts the persecution, suffering and massacre of Hungarian Jews and Romas committed in the name of Nazi ideology.

TIP: not far from the former Jewish district stands the magnificent New York Palace (today a luxury hotel owned by the Italian Boscolo group) housing the legendary New York Cafe. Just walk along Dob utca and you’ll end up at the imposing building at Erzsébet körút, a section of the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút).

See also our guide to Budapest Attractions, which includes lots of photos about our favorite sights in the city.

Jewish Events & Programs in Budapest

Jewish Summer Festival – a diverse festival with exhibitions, concerts, theater and dance performances, book, and craft fairs organized usually at the beginning of September.

One comment

  1. Looks really interesting. lking fward to visiting the old area and the old art pubs and scenes. Ireland