Andrássy Avenue is one of the main attractions of Budapest, the arterial road of Terézváros, and also the most polished avenue in Budapest. It is our “Champs-Élysées”, a boulevard full of high-end boutiques, embassies and villas.
The avenue connects downtown Pest to the City Park and together with the Millennium Underground underneath it and the Heroes’ Square, it became World Heritage Site in 2002.
The Avenue was named after Count Gyula Andrássy.
Budapest would have not developed this way if he had not spent years of exile in Paris after the 1848-49 Revolution.
Mr.Andrássy had the inspiration that Budapest should be developed the same way as Paris.
He started the city development plan and established the Council of Public Projects in Budapest. The Council put special emphasis on details as well, for example they designed accented architectural element, a dome or tower if a street ended in a building.
What you see on the streets of Budapest today is the work of thousands of talented architects.
Before its construction the main road leading to the City Park was Király street that soon became packed of people who were not able to go by carriages because of the crowds.
Andrássy Avenue was one of the most successful achievement of the city development programs.
The avenue was finished by 1885 and became fashionable immediately.
Between 1860 to 1905 Budapest managed to build 12 square kilometer unified cityscape which is unique in the world.
During the Monarchy era (1867-1918) at least 20% of the construction costs of new houses had to be spent on decoration by law.
As a result, you can see chubby angels, Roman Gods and Greek mythology beings on the facades. Walls are often decorated with wild and domestic animals, flower vines, portraits craved in stone, wood, metal or glass. Wrought iron and stone balconies, wooden doors with their fancy knockers are also common.
Andrássy Avenue has 132 buildings and only 5 of them are modern. In other, richer countries demolished old and ruined houses and built a new one. Hungary was so poor after the WW2 that there were no chance to build new buildings. After the Revolution of 1948-49 the huge lack of housing and apartment sharing did not make demolishing possible. New houses were built only on empty plots.
Strange how these tragedies helped to protect our cityscape.
Today the whole avenue is under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage, so it is forbidden to make even a tiny change in the façades.
The avenue itself has remained relatively unchanged through the years since its opening in 1876, it has gone through several name changes:
During the Soviet occupation (1950), it was renamed to “Sztálin út” (Stalin Road), while during the unsuccessful uprising against the Soviets in 1956, it was called “Hungarian Youth’ Street“, but it was a short lived period. Then it became Népköztársaság út (“People’s Republic Avenue“). It gained back its original name in 1990, after the collapse of the communist regime.
Sections of the Andrássy Avenue
The Avenue has three parts.
These sections differ in their built-up density, their width and length.
The first section lays between Erzsébet Square and Oktogon. The length of this section is 844 meters, its width is 34 meters. The 3-4 storied buildings are built attached to each other.
The 563 meter long middle section is between Oktogon and Kodály Circus. From here the width of the road is 45,5 meters. Here the buildings are lower and as the width permits, it has a promenade on both sides with tree-lines.
The last section is between Kodály Circus and Heroes’ Square. There are detached villas and palaces here. As we get closer to the City Park the size of green areas are growing constantly.
The most interesting buildings of Andrássy Avenue
Today, the section of the avenue between Erzsébet Square and Oktogon is home to several international high-fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, etc.
Coming from Deák Ferenc Square, the first building on the left hand side, is the building of Fonciére Insurance Company (Fonciére Palace), and was built by Adolf Feszty’s plans.