National Theatre (Budapest)

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National Theatre
National Theatre, Budapest.jpg
Address Bajor Gizi park 1.
Location Budapest, Hungary
Coordinates 47°28′15.89″N 19°4′14.04″E / 47.4710806°N 19.0705667°E / 47.4710806; 19.0705667
Type Theatre, Performing arts center
Capacity 619
Built 2002
Opened (1837) 2002

The National Theatre, located in Budapest, was originally opened in 1837. Since then, it has occupied multiple locations, including the original building at Kerepesi Street and the People's Theatre at Blaha Lujza Square, as well as Hevesi Sándor Square being its longest temporary location. It currently occupies the National Theatre building, which opened March 15, 2002.


The original building at Kerepesi Street
The People's Theatre before its demolition

The concept of a national theatre in Budapest was born at the turn of the 18th-19th century, promoted by influential thinkers including Ferenc Kazinczy and Baron István Széchenyi. A major figure in the reform age of Hungary, dreamed of a great building on the bank of the Danube that would operate in the form of a joint-stock company. He proposed his plans in his 1832 pamphlet, A Magyar Játékszínről.

The Hungarian Parliament made the distinct decision in its 41st article of 1836. Led by Antal Grassalkovich, the construction began in 1835 on Kerepesi Street. With a company assembled in the previous 4 years by András Fáy and Gábor Döbrentei (playing in the Court Theatre of Buda), the theatre opened on August 22, 1837, under the name Pesti Magyar Színház (Hungarian Theatre of Pest). Its goals were to give birth to the national drama and to showcase classics of world literature. Nationalized in 1840, the name was changed to the better known today National Theatre.

Aerial photography of the Park

The National Theatre was demolished in the 1900s. The company moved to the People's Theatre at Blaha Lujza Square in 1908. The company was only a tenant of People's Theatre in the following decades while the building's state continually deteriorated. Then in 1963, the authorities decided to demolish it, citing the reason to be metro line construction. Operation ceased one year later, and the building was blown up on April 23, 1965. The company was transferred to the renovated Petőfi Theatre (today is known as Thália), in Nagymező Street, and two years later to the former Magyar Theatre in Hevesi Sándor Square.

After the demolition of the People's Theatre, a proposal was made to build the new theater in the City Park, at Felvonulási Square. An international contest was held in 1965, but no first place prizes were given. The second prize was shared between the plans of Miklós Hofer and Jan Bogusławski - Bohdan Golebiewski. The next two decades dragged on with the planning at the Company for Public Building Planning, led by Miklós Hofer. The building permit was finally given in 1985, but the construction work went no further than chopping down a few trees. In 1988 a tender was held for a new location and the Engels (today Erzsébet) Square was chosen. Another decade passed without any progress. In 1996 the Parliament finally agreed to move on to the next phase, but the project became severely entangled with political quarrels for the next few years. After tendering the plans (won by Ferenc Bán), the construction began in 1998, but the new government elected in the same year stopped the work, finding it too costly.

In 1999, ministry commissioner György Schwajda commissioned Mária Siklós to make plans for a building at a new location Essenza, [1] the bank of the Danube. However, following the rage of the architect scene, a bid was held, resulting in György Vadász's victory. As he was not willing to tailor Siklós's plans any further,[2] the construction began with his plans on September 14, 2000. The new National Theatre opened on the National holiday, March 15, 2002.

The New National Theatre[edit]

Memorial of the Old National Theatre in the Park

The building lies on the bank of the Danube in the Ferencváros district. It is situated on the Soroksári road, the Grand Boulevard, and the Rákóczi Bridge. The Memorial of the Old National Theatre is a five-minute walk from the Csepel HÉV (suburban railway). The area of the theatre, along with an open-air stage is 20,844 square meters (224,362.95 square feet), and can functionally be separated into three parts. The central part is the nearly round building of the auditorium and stage, surrounded by corridors and public areas. The second is the U-shaped industrial section around the main stage. The third section is the park that surrounds the area, containing numerous memorials commemorating the Hungarian drama and film industry. The nearby Palace of Arts was opened in 2005.

György Schwajda became the first director of the theater. He signed the "company's core", and he founded the title Actor of the nation with a financial reward. He resigned in the summer of 2002. Peter Huszti without tender called by the minister, who resigned from the professional, broad antipathy quickly. Thomas Jordan became the head of the theater by bidding. He organized the public from the countryside, and in the theater debuted the counties of the country. Between 2008 and 2012, Robert Alföldi led the theater. He was a divisive personality, opposing the nation-rearing, folk theater direction. In 2013 Attila Vidnyanszky missed an opportunity in the lead of National Theater.


  1. ^ "New quarrels around the National Theatre". (in Hungarian). 1999-03-06. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  2. ^ "György Vadász will likely quit from designing the National Theatre". Origo (in Hungarian). 2000-07-03. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 


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