Szimpla Community Space

Ruin pub, open-air cinema and farmers’ market at the same place

As its founders put it, Szimpla-ness is an experiment to find out whether it is possible to finance a group culture on a market basis in Budapest (and now in Vác and Berlin as well). Is it possible to survive yet another (re)construction project in the neighbourhood. To sell food based on a balanced diet. To autonomously distribute films in your own open air cinema. To organise animation film festivals on a community basis. The answer so far is yes. With its unposh style and openness to group cultures, with its owners being university students rather than the affluent young entrepreneurs associated in public consciousness with the world of cafés, who opened Szimplakert in 2002, the place has paved the way to a whole new school of entertainment and catering – now there are 25 similar places in its neighbourhood.

Szimplakert is a postmodern cultural centre with almost a million visitors each year, organising film festivals, exhibitions, theatre performances, a farmers’ market, a cyclists’ flea market, supporting talents – all this on 1400 square meters. Pensioners enter for half price. Journalist Márton Bede described Kazinczy Street as one of the most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods in Budapest. It crosses merely four streets, yet its stretches are unique and widely different from one another. Its section between Dob Street and Wesselényi Street is the only place in Budapest that gives you the feeling which makes the medieval inner cities of Mediterranean towns so exciting – you never know what comes after the corner. The next section speaks mostly about Jewish history – with an Orthodox synagogue, Restaurant Carmel and even a kosher pizzeria.

“He who wants to be free respects the freedom of the other”
– F. Kazinczy

Questions: What’s your favourite community space? Why?
How do you think this location is connected to the topic of peace?
What does this aspect of peace mean to you?

Recreation spots: Szimplakert itself, and the countless bars and entertainment spots in the neighbourhood. This is the only entertainment district in Budapest that was created as a result of private initiative.

Opening hours
Mon-Sun 12am-4pm
Farmers’ Market Sun 9am-2pm
Public transport
Trolley 74 Nyár Street/Nagy Diófa Street
Bus 5, 7, 7A, 8, 112 and 239 Uránia

Johanna Bischitz

A woman and her goals – charity and helping the needy

The first woman who had a statue in Budapest – it was erected in 1889 in the building of the Society for the Poor Children of Budapest. This organisation later moved to 32 Akácfa Street, bringing the statue with them. Today the bust is gone and only the postament left, covered in graffiti – the statue is now located in the Jewish Museum. The news of her death in 1898 spread in the city like wildfire – contemporary reports have it that there were so many at her funeral as at that of Lajos Kossuth.

“A simple Jewish woman who helped more than a hundred thousand people indiscriminately to religion.”
– obituary in Függetlenség

Mm Dávid Bischitz née Johanna Fischer was an affluent woman. Her family and religious background as well as her personal commitment all helped her set and achieve goals to help those in need. She would nurse injured soldiers at an early age and in 1866, alongside head rabbi Meiser she was among the founders of the Israelite Women’s Association of Pest, which later became the most significant charity institution of the city. Also, this was the first women’s association in Hungary and served as a model for later similar, Catholic or Calvinist initiatives. One of the resony why it was created was the ever worsening social situation of the fast-growing city of Budapest, with plenty of poor people and orphans. Johanna Bischitz gave progressive and sustainable support to women, cooperated with other similar organisations – she worked in over 30 different associations.

A charismatic, intelligent and compassionate woman, excellent organiser and networker, she found significant supporters for the institutions and supportees of the Association. They opened a Home for Orphaned Girls and in 1869 a kosher charity kitchen, which, however, catered for the needy regardless their religion. Initially they cooked for 30 people, but in 1896 over they fed 140 thousand hungry mouths. (in: Bóka B. László: Erzsébetváros). Emperor Franz Joseph I gave peerage to the family in recognition of Johanna’s tireless charity work and she received decorations from the king of Serbia and the Belgian royal dynasty. Today the social services centre of District 7 bears her name.

Questions: Why do you think the statue was removed from this location?
Why does its former place look as it does?

Recreation spots: cafés in the nearby streets and the parks in Kéthly Anna Square and Klauzál Square

Public transport
Tram 4 and 6 Wesselényi Street
Trolley 74 Nyár Street
Time to the next peace trail station
5 minutes
Recommended route and sights to the next station
Walk along Wesselényi utca, Nagy Diófa utca and Dohány utca to get back to Kazinczy utca. You will discover 3 more Stolpersteins (stumbling blocks) on your way: Nagy Diófa utca 3., Dohány utca 34. and 30/b.

Kazimír Info Point

The Info Spot of the newly renovated Kazinczy Street

Kazinczy Steer has a rich and varied history and a vibrant youth and cultural life today. It is home to a university psychology department, a pedagogical faculty and the Museum of Electrotechnics as well. The street has been thoroughly nenovated recently, including the building of the Orthodox synagogue, the Museum of Electrotechnics and the entrance hall of the university building as well.

‘Kazimír Pont’, at 34, Kazinczy Street is the new info spot of the Jewish Quarter. Having joined the ‘Street of Culture’ project of the European Union, it showcases the architectural and cultural heritage of the 7th district of Budapest (Erzsébetváros) to locals and tourists. It offers up-to-date information on the past and present of the neighbourhood – apart from general tourist info, also the cultural and entertainment programs. They also host concerts, exhibitions, literary events and children’s programs and sell books (cultural history, gastronomy and fiction) mostly connected to the neighbourhood.

The name ‘Kazimir’ is related to Slavic ‘Vladimir’, also known as ‘Voldemar’ or ‘Waldemar’ throughout Scandinavia, as a result of the medieval cultural connections between the Russians and the Danes. It means ‘he who owns peace’ or ‘he who owns the world’, depending on interpretation. ‘Kazimir’ exists in contemporary Hungarian as ‘Kázmér’. Similarly to other Slavic names ending in ‘–mir’, it is associated with ‘peace’, as in Jaromir ‘peace in springtime’, Ljubomir ‘peace loving or beloved peace’ and Bogomir ‘divine peace’.

“The cholent will always be as good as the guest it is served to.”

Question. How do you think finding out about different cultures helps fighting against prejudices?

Recreation spots: Coffee is at half price every weekday int he morning at Kazimír Restaurant.

Opening hours
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm
Public transport
Trolley 74 Nyár utca/Nagy Diófa utca
Buses 5,7, 7A, ,8, 112, 239 Uránia
Time to the next peace trail station
5 minutes

Carl Lutz Park

The Swiss model bureaucrat who saved tens of thousands of people rather than 8000

Carl Lutz (1895 – 1975) a Swiss diplomat was stationed in Budapest in 1942. Apart from Switzerland he represented diplomatically Great Britain and the US as well. In the darkest of times he issued collective passports and after the arrow cross takeover protection passes and saved thousands by getting them into protected houses. With his contribution 76 housing blocks got protected status under Swiss colours in Budapest. One of these in the Glass House, located at 29 Vadász Street (today home to a Carl Lutz Memorial Room), where about 3000 Jews found refuge at the time. With an agreement with the Hungarian state, he had the right to issue protection documents for 8000 individuals, yet he deliberately misinterpreted the instruction and issued documents for 8000 families, saving tens of thousands of people.

“We discovered what was going on all by ourselves!”
– Gertrud, Carl Lutz’s wife

By certain estimates, the number of people they saved can be about 60 thousand. He would go to the brick factory in Óbuda (a forced labour site for Jews), the bank of the Danube where groups of Jews were regularly taken for execution and also intercepted the ‘death marches’ taken towards the Western border to get out whoever he could. He worked in cooperation with members of other diplomatic missions, such as Raoul Wallenberg, Angelo Rota and Friedrich Born, representing the international committee of Red Cross.

He was awarded the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 1965. He died in 1975 in his homeland, without any publicity, in an old people’s home in Bern. If we walk from Gábol Sztehlo’s statue (Location XI) to the park along Rumbach Sebestyén, in front to No. 7 we encounter a small copper plaque embedded in the asphalt. It’s a stumbling block or Stolperstein and it bears the engraving, ‘Here lived József Schreiber, born 1915, killed in Nagycenk as a forced labourer in 1945’. Budapest as well as other European cities are home to several stumbling blocks, which is part of the oeuvre of German sculptor Gunter Demnig, who wishes to call people’s attention to those deported and killed in World War 2 – let’s give them respect.

Question: What do you think decides whether we commemorate someone (and even make a hero of them) or forget them completely?

Recreation spots: Madách Square, the cafés and bars of Dob Street and the Gozsdu udvar courtyard complex.

Public transport
M1, M2 and M3 Deák Ferenc Square
Tram 47 and 49 Deák Ferenc Square
Trolley 74 Károly körút
Bus 9 Deák Ferenc Square
Time to the next peace trail station
2 minutes

Sztehlo Gábor

religious tolerance, saving children

The Lutheran Church in Deák Square (built 1799-1808, plans by Mihály Pollack) has numerous memorial plaques on its wall. One of these mentions the decree of Joseph II on religious tolerance (1781), which stated that the members of Unitarian, Calvinist, Lutheran and Orthodox denominations should suffer no negative discrimination. The decree was motivated by the need for tolerance and creating cohesion among the peoples of the Empire. The same year saw the settlement of the status of 83000 Hungarian Jews and the transfer of censorship authority from the church to the state. However, on his deathbed, Joseph II annulled his decrees, with the exception of 3 – one of which was the one on religious tolerance.

Facing the church building stands the statue of Lutheran minister Gábor Sztehlo (1909-1974, created by sculptor Tamás Vigh in 2009). He was the organiser of the Folk College system in Hungary, following the Finnish model (1937). During the war he was saving the prosecuted, mostly children. He set up PAX, a home for prosecuted children and several other institutions.

In 1945 he set up Gaudiopolis, ‘The City of Joy’, a ‘republic of children’ in Budapest, whose citizens had a library of their own, a choir, celebrated special days together and worked for the benefit of the whole community. They had their own constitution and law code, their own currency, the Gapo Dollar and a humorous periodical. They only received financial support from the International Red Cross.

“After 1945 the surviving parents took their children with them – the orphans were left there…”
– Mátyás Sárközi

Gaudiopolis functioned until 1950, inspiring Géza Radványi to make his gripping film, Somewhere in Europe. Gábor Sztehlo was the first Hungarian citizen to receive the title Righteous Among the Nations and the Jad Vashem medal.

Question: Why do you think only the International Red Cross supported Gaudiopolis, but neither the Hungarian state, nor the church?

Recreation spots: Deák Square, the cafés and and restaurants nearby.

Public transport
M1, M2 and M3 Deák Ferenc Square
Tram 47 and 49 Deák Ferenc Square
Bus 9, 16 Deák Ferenc Square
Time to the next peace trail station
8 minutes

Raoul Wallenberg

Interest-driven vs humanitarian, filth vs courage, death vs life, tears, tears and tears – gratitude, in the building of the Swedish and later the British Embassy

The building today is home to the Embassy of Great Britain. On its wall there is a memorial plaque commemorating the fact that Raoul Wallenberg and his helpers were hiding in this building during World War 2.

The building was originally designed for the purposes of a bank’s main office (Hazai Bank Rt.) in 1912 by Károly Rainer, in art nouveau – early modern style. From 1944 the situation of the Jews was steadily getting worse and worse. In November the bank rented the 3rd floor of the building to the Royal Swedish Embassy. Wallenberg visited the place frequently and gave refuge to numerous people in the building, which enjoyed protected status.

Wallenberg as embassy secretary was commissioned to support the saving of prosecuted Jews. He was chosen for the task by the American intelligence service and the American Committee of War Refugees, following the proposition of Sven Salen, a rich shipping entrepreneur. The choice was mainly motivated by personal and organisational interests. Wallenberg probably used the Swiss model when issuing Swedish entrance visas that were automatically family visas, which Hungarian authorities ‘accepted’ as such.

“We had an agreement with Szálasi’s government that granted their acceptance of 5000 passports, but we exceeded this number.”
– Anger

He used his growing influence mainly to save and cater for protected Swedish Jews. He requested permits from the Ministry of Exterior for his actions and was granted police support.

Using Swedish passports Wallenberg saved about 30 thousand people from deportation and certain death. He was doing his work in constant mortal danger until finally in mid-January 1945 he was captured by the Red Army and vanished without trace on his way to Debrecen.

The first official explanation said he was murdered by Arrow Cross or Gestapo agents. In 1953 Károly Szabó, Swedish Embassy employee, Lajos Stöckler, head of the Jewish congregation and others were put to trial with the absurd accusation that they played a part in Wallenberg’s murder. After they regained their freedom, they died of the tortures they had suffered – some of them had lost their sanity. In 1957 Moscow announced that Wallenberg had died in 1947 in the Lyubyanka Prison.

Question: What do you think you could do for peace today?

Recreation spots: Erzsébet square park and cafés nearby

Opening hours
Mon-Thu 8am-4.30pm, Fri 8am-1pm
Public transport
M1, M2 and M3 Deák Ferenc Square
Tram 47, 49 Deák Ferenc Square
Bus 16, 105 Deák Ferenc Square
Time to the next peace trail station
3 minutes

Shoes memorial

Shoes on the Bank of the Danube is a Holocaust memorial – the brainchild of film director Can Togay, created by Gyula Pauer, Kossuth Prize winner sculptor

In the evening of 8 January 1945 the armed Arrow Cross party members rounded up 154 people who had found refuge in the building of the Swedish Embassy. Armed policemen led by embassy employee Károly Szabó freed the persecuted people just as they were about to be shot – ‘They were standing along the bank, facing the river, when their liberators arrived’, as an eyewitness described. Similarly to other stretches of the riverbank, this spot saw brutal killings during the Arrow Cross rule and became symbolic of the horrors of this period and the persecution of Hungarian Jews. There are widely different views held by different social groups concerning these mass killings – the events were considered taboo for a long time and maybe it still is. In the 59 days between the first and the last mass murder Arrow Cross gangs executed almost 3600 people. The estimated average size of the groups taken to the bank of the Danube is 30. Those killed were thrown into the Danube. Some of the execution spots: Szent István Park, the elegant hotels on the Pest side of the river, Franz Joseph embankment, Batthyány Square, Szilágyi Dezső Square.

The largest number of killings were committed near the Chain Bridge on the Pest side. 99% of the victims had been Jewish citizens from Budapest. The perpetrators would single out their victims at random or with the purpose of robbing them of heir values (relying on their spies) from the Jews moved into houses marked with a Magen David and later the ghetto. They were first taken to Arrow Cross houses and from there, they were herded to the bank of the Danube. Occasionally the citizens hiding the persecuted Jews would also be murdered – the best known among them is Sister Sára Salkaházi, later beatified by the Catholic Church.

All this was muted during the decades preceding 1989 – the period of ‘shy memorials’. Yet racist and anti-semitic discourse and gestures abound today as well. However, recent directions in the politics of remembering are illustrated by the fact that in 2010 certain stretches of the riverbank were named after persons who took part in the efforts to save the persecuted – Count János Esterházy, Slachta Margit, Angelo Rotta, Sztehlo Gábor, Friedrich Born, Raul Wallenberg, Nina és Valdemar Langlet, Salkaházi Sára, Jane Haining and Carl Lutz .

Recreation spot: the benches along the river, the cafés of nearby Szabadság Square.

Public transport
M2 Kossuth Square
Tram 2 Széchenyi István Square/Kossuth Square (mind the embakment traffic)
Bus 15 and 115 Széchenyi Street
Time to the next peace trail station
12 minutes
Recommended route and sights to the next station
Walk through Szabadság tér and continue onto Október 6. utca.

István Türr

Turns to peace diplomat from freedom fighter. The bronze plaque was made by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl and was put in place in 1929

István Türr (born Thier) didn’t bother with his schooling for too long. He soon became an apprentice in a locksmith’s workshop, then in a mill and finally at a stonemason’s. He volunteered in the army and was accepted at the second trial. He became a lieutenant in Marshal Radeczky’s army (he bore the name Türr by this time) and was sent to Italy, where he fought in the cruel fights against Piedmont and the merciless revenge campaign against Milan. Having seen all this he deserted and switched to the Piedmont army – throughout his later military career he always supported the side which was against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and fought for freedom and independence. After the defeat of the Hungarian revolution he lived in several European countries, trying to find opportunities for revolutionary ventures. He was a bold soldier and adventurous plotter with excellent capacities. He was a people person, who learnt to speak Italian, French, German and English, conducting correspondence and meetings in all these languages. His military career skyrocketed – he became the governor of Naples and the adjutant of Vittorio Emmanuel. He was commissioned to carry out delicate diplomatic missions. After the general amnesty, he returned to Hungary.

After this, he became known as a champion of water engineering, promoting the creation of waterways, channels and irrigation systems. He played an active part in the construction of the Franz Channel, the Panama Channel and the Corinthian Channel. Also, he did a lot to forward adult education in Hungary – he was the founder of the Central People’s Education Circle and he was Grand Master of the Free Masons’ lodge To Matthias Corvinus the Just.

“He takes people’s hearts by siege just as easily as he had done with Palermo.”
– Jókai

In the final stage of his life he became a dedicated supporter of peace. He could mobilise his respectable network and authority to put them in the service of world peace. He went to great lengths trying to establish alliances between France, Italy and Austria-Hungary. He was an active member of the board of the Peace Association of the Countries of the Hungarian Holy Crown (which had its seat in nearby Dorottya Street). He chaired the VII International Peace Congress. He took part in the peace movements of France and Italy. He championed several Hungarian cultural and economic movements and published widely in order to support the progress of Hungarian economy.

Questions: What do you think about this life story?
Why do you think exactly this street got named after István Türr?

Recreation spots: the riverside, Vigadó Square, Vörösmarty Square.

Public transport
M1 Vörösmarty tér
M2 Deák Ferenc tér
Tram 2 Vigadó tér
Time to the next peace trail station
14 minutes

Sri Chinmoy

On the Duna embankment, behind Petőfi’s statue, next to other memorials (a Greek, an Armenian and a Ukrainian one) – an inscription written in strange Hungarian and a universal peace message.

A memorial plaque commemorates the commitment for peace of spiritual leader Sri Chimnoy (1931-2007), who was born in today’s Bangladesh and was raised in an ashram from the age of 12. He spent his whole life in the service of humanity, reinforcing the ideal of peace through prayer, meditation, music and art. His teachnigs include that a balanced life style makes it possible for people to live in harmony with themselves and the world. It is his conviction that physical effort, sport, stamina and fitness can help us reshape our lives and achieve inner peace. The Sri Chimnoy Marathon Team was founded in 1977 and has been active organising hundreds of sports events and competitions worldwide serving the ideal of peace.

The memorial plaque (an installation by György Vadász, 2000) is set in a strange but interesting park. The tiny green patch is occupied by several memorials, which together seem to function as an enigmatic memorial grove and school board. Here is a tombstone commemorating the Greeks who died in Budapest (2006), a memorial for the famine in Ukraine (2009) and a slate commemorating the Armenian genocide (2000). Heroes, violence, famine and peace all in one place.

And if you turn around, there is the Gellért Hill with Citadella castle on the top together the Statue of Liberty as a contraversial duet of war and peace.

“Would you like to know
Where peace resides?
In your expectation-free,
– Sri Chinmoy

Question: Can you recall a situation when you put your expectations aside?

Recreation spots: the riverside.

Public transport
M3 Ferenciek tere
Tram 2 Március 15 Square
Bus 5, 7, 7A, 7E, 8, 107E, 112, 133E, 233E, 239 Ferenciek tere
Boat 11, 12 and 13 Petőfi Square (Erzsébet Bridge)
Time to the next peace trail station
4 minutes

New City Hall

Civic peace congress in a state institution.

The Neo-Renaissance building was constructed in 1870-75, with the most renowned and experienced architects and artists as contributors. The plans were made by Imre Steindl, who also planned the building of the Parliament. The meetings of the Municipal Board have been taking place in this building ever since it was opened. The cast-iron structured stairway is decorated with Corinthian columns made in the Ganz Factory. The Main Hall is decorated with frescos by Károly Lotz, one of the most popular fresco and mural painters of his time (his works are also featuring in the Hungarian National Museum, the Hungarian Academy of Science, the Budapest Opera, St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Parliament buildings). It was in this building and specifically in the Lotz Hall that the 7th International Peace Congress held its assembly on 18-23 September 1896, chaired by István Türr and with Bertha von Suttner as honorary guest, who later became the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. The Congress was made up of 150 representatives from abroad, 50 from Austria and 80 from Hungary, as well as delegates of 10 academies and 9 literary peace associations. Their present represented a total of 800 peace associations meeting in this prestigeous public building.

“Our task is to create a public forum for peace-loving – as the public is a mighty power.”
– Jókai

Question: What does it tell you that civic associations held a peace congress in the building of the Municipal Board?

Recreation spots: the eateries on the first floor of the Big Market Hall in F?vám Square, the restaurants and cafés in Váci Street.

Additional information
Public transport
Tram 2, 47 and 49 Fővám tér
Bus 15 and 115 Fővám tér
Time to the next peace trail station
7 minutes