The History of Buda Castle after 1686

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The Castle for Visitors

The yard of the former Red Hedgehog RestaurantAlthough strangers did not go shopping to the castle, they often went there as visitors, since the headquarters of the army, the town and government offices, county council, churches and schools were situated there. The entertainment of guests has old and rich traditions here.

The oldest place for accommodation was the Vörös Sün Inn (Inn of the Red Hedgehog), which is cited in sources from 1696. Even balls were held in the banqueting hall of the inn, and actors on the move, who were visiting Buda from the 1760s, put on their performances here. When Joseph II moved the government offices from Pozsony to Buda the Vörös Sün proved to be insufficient for the larger number of guests. So the town bought the Fortuna House in 1784, which became the best, and most famous inn of Buda. Dignitaries also stayed here. One of its attractions was a beautiful view: its garden was called the Panorama. The inn had comfortably furnished rooms and a cafeteria, which already had a billiards table as early as 1792, also attracted the visitors.

The Red Hedgehog signboard on the wall of No. 3 Hess András (Ince pápa) square, 1938In the middle of the 18th century it was not primarily inns that were conspicuous to visitors, but rather the large number of pubs. As can be read in a description of the town: "every house owner and every vineyard owner had the right to open a wine bar. If somebody was not able to sell their wine in barrels, they rarely missed the chance to open a tavern and hang the green branch in front of the door."

"More sober" catering establishments also soon appeared. The first confectioner's opened at Szentháromság tér around 1740. The most successful enterprise proved to be the one that opened in Szentháromság utca in 1827. After several changes of ownership it came into the possession of Vilmos Ruszwurm in 1884, and under his name became the oldest permanently working confectioner's in Hungary.

No. 4 Fortuna street, around 1940The catering trade of the castle boomed in the 19th century. The employees and clients of government offices and the citizens of Budapest, who came here to enjoy the relaxed and archaic atmosphere, were able to enjoy numerous restaurants of a high standard. The White Dove, which opened in 1856, was famous for its excellent kitchen. The Baumann restaurant in Fortuna utca, the Black Raven restaurant in Országház utca and the Tárnok Cafeteria in Tárnok utca were also quite popular. The memory of the Hackle Brasserie, which opened in the 1860s, is preserved in a street name: the name of its owner was translated, and became the eponym of Balta Lane.

The inside of the Ruszwurm confectioner'sThe most elegant places of Buda's social life were the casinos. There were two casinos in operation in the castle. The old casinos - in contrast with their names - were not gambling institutions, but the clubs of high society. The first one opened at the end of 1787 in the former Carmelite Convent next to the Várszínház. A big gaming room with card tables, chess sets, board games, two billiard rooms and a restaurant - with a terrace in the summer - received illustrious guests, who were entertained by musicians, while on Sundays there were dances.

The casino, which was closed down a few years later, revived after half a century, in 1841. From 1827 Count István Széchenyi had brought the institution into vogue, to encourage rapprochement between intellectuals and the elite by virtue of their birth and wealth. The Buda casino rented the Marczibányi house on the northern edge of Dísz tér. The casino subscribed to all the Hungarian political newspapers and housed a small library. Its halls were open all day and the restaurateur was at the members' disposal from breakfast to dinner. Naturally it also had some game rooms. The casino was exclusively for men at night, although as recompense concerts and balls were sometimes held for the families (wives and children).

Porcelain saucer with the view of Pest-Buda