10. Budapest: 3-Hour Ruin Bar Walk
Deep inside the dense history-filled Jewish quarter, and hidden within crumbling, pre-war buildings with battered bricks and graffiti, are some of Budapest’s most popular hangouts. From the outside they may look like squatters blocks, but inside are the ruin bars – filled with unexpected layers of detail – which have become Budapest’s own brand of local cool. Abandoned buildings, old cellars and derelict spaces have been transformed into dozens of these wildly decked-out bars, with old bathtubs and broken-down cars turned into seating, and all manner of nostalgia stuffed into every nook.
Some have been around for more than a decade, while others disappear just as quickly as they pop up. They are not simply places to get a drink. Over the past decade, ruin bars have introduced a new wave of entertainment in Budapest and expanded beyond simply serving booze into cultural, artistic, and sometimes, gastronomic hotspots. Concentrated in the seventh district, they are at the edge of where the mainstream meets the contemporary underground art scene, and their success has been a catalyst for gentrification in this quarter. As the neighborhood continues to change, however, ruin pubs may be forced to change along with it.
Join the tour to experience a handful of ruin bars in different styles. Look at many of them, and stop for drinks at four or five places. Discuss what was happening in Budapest in the early part of this century to encourage these types of bars to proliferate, and why they continue to thrive, even though every year there are articles forecasting the death of the ruin bar. How have they changed the fabric of the neighborhood, and how are they still evolving?