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The Budapest Opera House: diving in the heart of Hungarian cultural life

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Famous for its grandiose neo-renaissance architecture and extraordinary acoustics, the Budapest Opera House (officially called the Hungarian State Opera House) is definitely worth a visit! Follow the guide!


Accommodation, flights, activities, citypass …
You’ll find all the Captain’s suggestions in the section
Captain Ulysses’ favourites at the very end of the article!

🤩 Top activities in Budapest 🤩

Brief history of the Budapest Opera House

At the end of the 19 th century, the city of Budapest – founded in 1873 following the unification of the municipalities of Pest, Buda and Óbuda – is more dynamic than ever and emerging on the international cultural scene.

But in those days, the Hungarian capital only had one theater, the National Theater, which struggled to accommodate both theatrical performances and operas.

At the request of the Prime Minister, the director of the National Theater therefore proposed to build a brand new opera house. In 1873, the very year when Budapest was founded, the project was approved by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I st … On the sole condition that the Budapest Opera House would not overshadow that of Vienna!

The project was entrusted to Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl (also known for contributing to the construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica ). But the city of Budapest also had conditions: only Hungarian craftsmen were to participate in the construction of the opera house, and the materials used for the construction were to come exclusively from Hungary. Miklós Ybl fulfilled the contract (with a few exceptions) and called on a host of famous Hungarian artists: Bertalan Székely, Mór Than, Alajos Strobl, Károly Lotz…

The construction works lasted 9 years and the Hungarian Opera House was inaugurated on September 27, 1884.

Budapest Opera House - facade

Visiting the Budapest Opera House

⚠️ Renovation work in progress ⚠️
Please note, the Budapest Opera House is currently being renovated and the renovation works are planned to end in 2021. Until then, the theatrical performances are transferred to the Erkel Theater, located in the 8 th district of the capital. Guided tours of the opera house (shortened and in English only) run daily at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Short description of the Budapest Opera House

The least we can say is that the Budapest Opera House is quite spectacular! The building – which blends neo-renaissance and baroque influences – is as grandiose on the outside as it is on the inside!

The facade of the Budapest Opera House

The facade of the Opera House is adorned with statues of famous composers (Mozart, Beethoven or Verdi). The entrance is flanked by two statues representing Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt, as well as Ferenc Erkel, first director of the Opera House and composer of the national anthem of Hungary.

Inside the Opera House

The interior of the Budapest Opera House displays an impressing collection of gilding, sculptures, frescoes and sumptuous decorative elements.

The foyer of the Opera – which is covered with marble and gilding – is undoubtedly reminiscent of Italian Renaissance palaces. The Doric marble columns add a touch of ancient classicism. The ceiling is decorated with representations of the 9 muses of the Greek mythology.

With its red carpet and marble columns, the grand staircase – entirely made of marble – is quite simply magnificent. The ceiling is covered with works by Hungarian painter Mór Than.

The auditorium, the layout of which follows the shape of a horseshoe, is equally majestic. Organized over three floors, it can accommodate up to 1,261 spectators. The impressive ceiling fresco is the work of Károly Lotz. The huge bronze candlestick was made in Mainz, Germany.

The royal staircase is also richly decorated and is definitely worth a peek. Legend has it that Princess Sissi loved the (slimming) mirror that hangs in the staircase.

Performances and concerts at the Budapest Opera House

From September to June, performances (opera or ballet) are given almost every day of the week.

Tickets (which are very affordable) can be purchased online on the opera website or on site.

🎩 Formal dress required 🎩
Please note, formal attire is required during performances. If you plan to attend an opera or a ballet, remember to bring adequate clothing!

Budapest Opera House Guided Tour

Guided tours give visitors the opportunity to explore the interior of the Budapest Opera House and learn about its long history.

Tours are available in several languages and end with a small representation.

You can book your seats online or on site, up to 20 minutes before the start of the visit.

Admission rates are:

Full price2,500 forints
Children under 6Free
Children under 141250 forints
Students and visitors over 652000 forints

💡 Good to know 💡
The guided tour is more expensive than an entry-level ticket to attend a performance at the Budapest Opera.

Access

Getting to the Budapest Opera House

To get to the Hungarian State House, head for the district of Terézváros (in the former municipality of Pest), a stone’s throw from Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Great Synagogue of Budapest .

The nearest public transports are:

  • the Subway : Opera station (line M1)
  • the bus : Opéra stop (line 105)

Hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses also stop near the Budapest Opera House. They are very handy to navigate freely between the main sites and monuments of the “Pearl of the Danube”.

Address : Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary

Budapest Opera House Opening Hours

Guided tours start at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. & 4 p.m. daily. Theatrical performances are generally held at 7 or 8 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends, it is often possible to attend an opera or ballet during the day. Find out more on the official website of the Opera House.

⚠️ Reminder: renovations are currently underway at the Budapest Opera House. The performances are therefore transferred to the Erkel Theater. The guided tours are shortened and only take place in English, at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

👍 The Captain’s tip 👍
Captain Ulysses highly recommends this Budapest free tour.
You’re free to choose how much you want to tip the tour guide at the end of the tour!


The Captain’s favourites in Budapest

🛏️ ACCOMMODATIONS
If you’re looking for an accommodation in Budapest, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking.com . You’ll find a wide choice of hotels, hostels and apartments in the Hungarian capital.
If your budget is tight, the Captain particularly recommends theAvenue Hostel .
If you’re looking for a midscale option, the Captain recommends three aparthotels in particular: Hedonist Lodge , Dolce Vita Rumbach and Tempo Life Apartman .
And if you want to treat yourself to a really nice hotel, why not splurge on a stay at Hotel Moments Budapest ?

🎟️ ACTIVITIES
As for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide , Tiqets and Civitatis . Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!

🎫 CITYPASS
If you are staying in Budapest for several days, you might want to consider investing in the Budapest Card. It includes free public transport, free entrance to the Lukacs Spa, two guided tours, free entrance to 17 museums, as well as numerous discounts.

🚐 TRANSFERS
Budapest airport is located about twenty kilometers from the city. If you want to take a load off your mind, you can book a private transfer into Budapest’s city centre from the airport. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. Find out more: shared transfer or private transfer.

🚌 TRANSPORTS IN BUDAPEST
Budapest’s public transport system is well-developped and quite easy to navigate: metro, bus, tram and even ferry. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Budapest (audio guide included). Otherwise, there’s always the good old local ways of getting around the city: in a russian jeep or a Trabant.

✈️ FLIGHTS
Captain Ulysses highly recommends booking your flights on Skyscanner. The website allows you to compare countless flights to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.

Did you like this article? If yes, why don’t you pin it? 📌

Budapest Opera House - Pinterest

Credits
Unsplash | Miroslav Petrasko

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