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New York Café of Budapest:A Timeless Oasis of Literature and Grandeur

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. Among its many treasures, the New York Café stands out as a symbol of the city’s grand cafe culture, a tradition that has been thriving for over a century.First opened in 1895, the New York Café has been welcoming visitors for more than 125 years, making it a cornerstone of Budapest’s cultural landscape. The café’s opulent interior, with its ornate frescoes, gilded chandeliers, and lavish furnishings, has earned it the title of the “World’s Most Beautiful Café.”

The economic ipswing that followed the Compromise also created a need for finance houses. The smaller banks, loan companies  and insurance societies had found a few rooms sufficent for their needs, and had required no special investment.

The booming harvests of the three decades preceding the the FIrst World War brough about a qualitative change. Everywhere in Hungary there was money available for building new town halls, churches and of course, finance houses .

The New York Insurance Society was not short of money, and chose Nagykörút (Big Ring Road, now Erzsébet körút and its continuations) for its impressive headquarters. Alajos Hausszman was commissioned and so between  1891-95 one of the finest palaces of Budapest in my opinion was built

As befits the central avant-corps of a financial establishment , the incomparably beautiful clock tower above it proclaims far and wide that one may enter the insurer’s building with confidence

On he ground floor the New York coffee -house opened.With its luxurious appointments and serpentine pillars that marked off seperate spaces, it became famous  for its literary and artistic table societies 

The New York Café was originally designed by the prominent Hungarian architect Alajos Hauszmann, who also worked on several other prominent buildings in Budapest, including the Hungarian Parliament Building. The café’s stunning interior, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, is a testament to Hauszmann’s architectural prowess.

The café’s name, New York, harks back to its original owners, the New York Insurance Company, who commissioned the building of the café as part of their headquarters. The café’s grand opening was a lavish affair, attended by the city’s elite and quickly becoming a popular gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals.

The New York Café’s reputation as a haven for writers and poets is well-deserved. Many of Hungary’s literary greats, such as Ferenc Molnár, Géza Gárdonyi, and Mihály Babits, were regular patrons. The café’s atmosphere of creativity and inspiration was so strong that it was often referred to as the “Writers’ Café.”

During the tumultuous years of World War II and the post-war communist era, the New York Café fell into disrepair. It was not until the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the café underwent a meticulous restoration process, returning it to its former splendor.

Today, the New York Café continues to be a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. Visitors can enjoy traditional Hungarian dishes and pastries, as well as live piano music and a variety of literary events.

In a city known for its grand cafes, the New York Café stands out as a shining example of Budapest’s rich cultural heritage. Its stunning architecture, literary legacy, and enduring allure make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a taste of Hungarian history and tradition.