Paris Courtyard inside

Paris Courtyard – the beauty of Budapest downtown

Paris Courtyard had been asleep for a long time, sleeping under the its shabby walls and her gorgeous ornamentation. It was like a beauty dressed in rags.

History of Paris Courtyard

Originally the building, called Brudern House, was an eclectic-style residential and office building on Ferenciek Square.

The Brudern House was named after the building that stood here in the 19th century:

It was built according to the plans of Mihály Pollack in 1817 for Baron József Brudern.

It was one of Hungary’s first modern shopping houses.

According to a legend, Mihály Pollack designed the corridor to resemble the Passage des Panoramas in Paris, which is why it was known as the Paris House.

After the shops inside began to decline and city planning required it, the old Brudern House was partially demolished in 1883 and completely destroyed by the end of the century.

The corner lot was bought by the Downtown Savings Bank in 1906 to build its new center there.

Construction began on May 15, 1909 and was completed by 1912.

The main facade and the main entrance were designed to look at the Ferenciek Square.

It led to the main entrance to the bank’s cash desk, from where it could go to the private safe room.

The function of the “Paris House” shop was carried on by the ground floor passage called the “Paris Courtyard”.

Offices were located on the upper floors and apartments were created on the top floors.

Budapest 1971 Fortepan/Budapest Főváros Levéltára

Look at the crystal glass dome, the majestic decorations were made by the Zsolnay factory and the colored glass windows. The glass prism roof lets in the sunlight and during the afternoons and evenings, the passage was lit by hundred light bulbs.

Combining elements of Moorish architecture and Gothic style, the façade of the beautiful building up to the second floor was decorated with copper and glass mosaics, the upper levels had enameled bricks and majolica.

On the three lower levels, French balconies were formed, with wrought iron railings. On the second floor, the stone-lined balcony is held by angel-head brackets.

There was a famous confectionery on the first floor of the building, called Jégbüfé. It wasn’t a particularly good sweet-shop but almost every Budapest locals have memories from here.

Today, Jégbüfé is right next to the building in Petőfi Sándor street, but this Jégbüfé is not THAT Jégbüfé in any means. 😔 

Budapest in 1964 Fortepan/Bauer Sándor
Budapest in 1966 Fortepan/Bauer Sándor
Budapest in 1970 Fortepan/Uvaterv

The passageway was abandoned and dim in the 80s and 90s. It was a secret, hiding gem of Budapest. It’s most unique shop was a hologram shop, with a huge tarantula on its window. Kids were constantly jumping around it to right and left to avoid the deadly grip of the enormous spider.

As years passed by, the shops in the passageway started to close one after another. The building became abandoned.

Fortepan 1973
Budapest in 1979 Fortepan/Magyar rendőr
Budapest in 1982 Fortepan

New life of Paris Courtyard

The building was purchased by Mellow Mood Hotels a few years ago to turn it into a luxury hotel belonging to the Hyatt hotel chain.

During the renovation work that began in 2014, the original plans and archival resources were used for the reconstruction. The ornate domes were taken to pieces and, after cleaning, they were

put together and put back individually. During the restoration of the monument, the work of the ceramic restorers alone took 76,000 hours.

It was a big question if the passageway stays accessible for the general public or not. Right now the passageway is the reception area and lobby of the hotel. It is closed from both sides (Petőfi Sándor street and Kossuth street). It is said that anyone can freely walk through it, but it is clearly not the case. Hotel guards stand in the doors and stepping in you can’t feel you belong there.

I still encourage you to step inside.

If you are interested in other courtyards and passages in Budapest, check out this post: 

Courtyards and Passageways in Budapest


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2 thoughts on “Paris Courtyard – the beauty of Budapest downtown”

  1. I was in Budapest last week. It looked like there were guards at Gresham Palace, but when I started to go in they both rushed to open the door for me. They are doormen. And no, I don’t dress or look like I was staying there. I’m older and usually invisible, so what a nice change to be noticed.

    1. Hi Joyce! It is great to hear that you had a nice time in Budapest! 🙂 Yes, the doormen are polite at Gresham Palace. We were also greeted nicely and believe me, we also do not look posh! 🙂

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