The ruin pubs of Budapest

Szimpla logo

As the ruin pubs have burst into the nightlife of Budapest, they’ve changed everything – from the overall nightlife to the touristic nodes. Eventually, they’ve reshaped the whole downtown area of Budapest in the course of a decade.

The first ruin pub

Szimpla, the first ruin pub was opened in 2001, and remained the most well-known and prominent one up to these days. It was launched as an experimental idea of some college graduates, who had envisioned a fun, artsy place in an old building in a district which was craving for the buzz of life. Szimpla became unexpectedly popular as first the locals, then the tourists, and finally the whole catering trade and the living culture got immersed in it.

szimpla The ruin pubs of Budapest

Szimpla’s multi-level building has once been a factory, after that it got reconstructed as a residential building. As it was turned into a pub, it kept its various indoor and outdoor areas, as well as the original walls with plenty of hidden, smaller rooms and, to match the great size, numerous bars in them. The decoration itself would be hard to describe, that is the atmosphere you should experience on your own.

The second generation

Instant and Fogasház are the closest followers on the top ranks, partly because they have dancing floors and DJs. Although, there are more than 30 ruin pubs by now, each having its unique and peculiar style, so the best advice would be to check them out personally and choose the most favorable to your taste! (This is actually an idea that lies beneath the growing popularity of pub crawls as well…)

szimpla inside The ruin pubs of Budapest

All ruin pubs share the basic idea: they take place in old, previously abandoned buildings, which are converted into exciting pubs. The furniture is also selected from old, out-of-use pieces, and the stylistic decoration is designed carefully by art students. More often than not, it features unexplainable installations of unidentifiable (yet not flying, just astounding) objects. They put a major emphasis on creating an outstanding and thrilling atmosphere that is unmatched by any other place, including the rest of the ruin pubs.

Nowadays, the seventh district of Budapest is an unequaled scene with a cafe, a bar, a club or a ruin pub in every second house. This revitalization of the downtown area is vastly due to the emergence of the ruin pub culture – formerly, it was full of neglected buildings, empty streets and looming historical memories. But finally revived, the nightlife is so vivid and bustling that it could be mistaken with a festival on a usual night out.

Photos: 1, 2

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