The newest attraction in Budapest
This amazing building has seen many things over the decades, it was a mall, a bank, an office building and it saw its darkest days in the socialism. What happened to this hidden treasure of Budapest?
The original passage was built a little more than two hundred years ago designed by the architect of the Hungarian National Museum, Pollack Mihaly and the glasses were designed by the famous designer Róth Miksa. Originally, it was supposed to be a mall and was functioning as one until the end of the 19th century when it was rebuilt as a bank house. However there were some drastic changes, the designer kept the ground level as a passage containing smaller shops.Thankfully the building pulled through WW2 without mayor destruction. Unfortunately socialism wasn’t such a fortunate period. The building was slowly torn apart from the inside out. The beautiful glass chandeliers were taken apart, the ornaments were trimmed down and the copper handrails were painted black. People started to call it the “dark Parisian Garden” as the once beautiful passage became empty and lifeless.
The passage remained like this until the socialism was over. In 2010 the Mellow Mood Group bought the building and started the renovations around 2014. Their purpose was to restore the elegance of the original building while transforming it into a luxurious five star hotel with fancy restaurants, cafés and stores in the passage. Althoughthe plans sounded good and were promising, there were two main concerns from the people of Budapest: will it be a passage like it was in the old days and will it be open to the public? The answer is no and yes. The passage is not like in the old days, there are no stores and it’s mainly like a hotel lobby with a café in it. Can we just go in? Absolutely, anyone can visit the passage and can take photos of the interior which turned out to be better than ever. I visited the Parisian garden a week ago and the restoration is amazing. Every ornament is beautifully detailed, the colors are shiny and its vibe is unmistakably very luxurious.
I didn’t stop for a coffee, but if you’re in the mood you could just sit down in the little restaurant which is in the middle of the passage and enjoy the view. For me the experience was like time travel, hopping back to the finest of the 19th and 20th centuries. I was totally amazed. I did feel a little out of place though because I don’t normally go to five star hotels but I got over this feeling pretty quickly.
In my opinion, visiting the Parisian Garden is a must. If you’re an inhabitant of Budapest or just visiting, make sure to walk through that passage at least once. It’s a great visual experience and moreover it's completely free.
Architect: ARCHICON, Csaba Nagy
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Photo credit Lilla Andre