The vivid and pulsing downtown party zone of Budapest, namely ‘Pest’, exhibits how a city can transform over a half a century.
Since the founding of the first bar of its kind in 2002, Szimpla Kert, ‘ruin’ bars, as they are locally referred to, are called so as they were opened in the remnants of derelict buildings, factories and stores of the Old District.
The Seventh District of Budapest is now teaming with bars and restaurants, and draws tourists and the young and hip generation. Reservations for large groups are mandatory, even in late winter, which is not the busiest time for tourism in Hungary.
During World War II this area was the Jewish quarter. Nazi troops forced thousands of Jews from here and during the communist era Gypsies moved in. Eventually, they too, were taken away by the government, many of them to the apartments the Jewish families once lived in.
After decades of decline Pest is ever-changing. Ruin pubs open each year and bring life to old, abandoned structures. Visitors and locals now experience the atmosphere of the old Pest in a rather new way.
Pest is not only alive at nighttime, it is very much awake during the day. Where you drink your beer Saturday night, you can return on Sunday morning, have a coffee and buy breakfast at the farmers’ market, or enjoy it in an old pub.