Massive murals, small pop-up sculptures, and ruin bars full of random décor…. Striking paintings brightening the city, old firewalls serving as huge canvasses, strange figures appearing as if from nowhere – Budapest is brimming with urban art.
Near the Synagogue on Rumbach Sebestyén Street, a lavish portrait of Empress Elisabeth welcomes you to the district named after this Habsburg royal. Erzsébetváros, Elizabeth Town, today is filled with impressive street art. Close by, a vast mural celebrates the famous victory of Hungary’s football team over England in 1953, the action captured beside a newspaper report of the time.
Across the street, a painting of a Rubik’s Cube reflects on its code being breakable after 20 turns. As its Hungarian inventor, Ernő Rubik, explains to the viewer, “There is always a solution – and not just one”.
Elsewhere in town, street art takes the form of sculpture. Since 1972, László Marton’s Little Princess on the Danube bank has immortalized the sculptor’s own daughter. Recently, curious works by Ukrainian artist Mihajlo Kolodko include random items around Széll Kálmán Square: a wallet, an umbrella, and a skateboard painstakingly crafted in a lifelike fashion. On the same square, his Mekk Elek shows the revered children’s character, a clumsy but kind goat, looking for where to place his ungainly street sign. Foreign visitors will recognize Kermit the Frog on Szabadság Square and TV detective Columbo on Falk Miksa utca, recently joined by a meerkat outlined in chalk as if it’s a crime scene. To add to the illusion, the little creature is clutching a revolver, and to complete the picture, at Columbo’s feet is his loyal basset hound.