Exclusive! The British Embassy and University of Fine Arts
Secret places are a pleasure to discover. They are magnetic and alluring and most of all exclusive, like those fancy places where you need a secret code to enter.
In a world where everything is open-source, documented and available, taking delight in discovering places not intended for the public eye increases enormously.
You can tell how psyched I was to be able to visit two places in Budapest that are not usually open to the commoner.
During the European Heritage Days on the weekend of 15-16 September 2012 the University of Fine Arts and the British Embassy opened its doors and welcomed interested guests.
Enter into a world of wonder and art. The UNIVERSITY OF FINE ARTS.
I love the idea to walk through mysterious dark hallways of seemingly forgotten places. And to find out that I am not the only one who loves Sugar!
Someday I would like to own a home with a secret room. The kind where you pull the frame of a picture to magically open a whole new area (to store favourite candy).
Visiting the University of Fine Arts is like entering a beautiful old museum. The building was build in 1877 for the Hungarian Royal Drawing School and Art Teachers’ College.
Not to miss out on its architectural beauty, looking up is recommended.
The students walk majestic halls. A very inspiring learning environment.
One wing displays busts of famous Hungarian artists, such as Gyula Benczúr. He painted portraits of kings and aristocrats but my favourite picture is that of ‘Narcissus’ from 1881. In my opinion it comes second best to John William Waterhouse‘s painting of the same young man.
The beauty of hidden things. Michelangelo has heart shaped pupils! I knew it!
The University is a truly ‘authentic‘ place, with students’ tools and works lying around. I would list the University a worthy spot to see in Budapest.
The upper gallery was lined with old and contemporary Hungarian posters.
Different ways of expression.
After Andrássy Avenue, where the University stands, we walked to the students’ workshops, located on the corner of Bajza utca and Lendvay utca.
We were actually participating in an excursion of the gay community, thanks to Gabor whom we met through our short term rental of his flat and who showed his magnanimous and intellectual side, inviting, sharing and showing us around. And urging us to try the fruit of apple trees.
Gay men and lesbians get closer and closer to mainstream, trading in their image as queer radicals for regular couples who are married and have kids and put rainbow flag HRC bumper stickers on their cars. As far as Gabor told us, Budapest has still a long way to go.
Interestingly, the old stones of the well-known Matthias Church were ‘recycled’ into pieces of art by graduate sculptors.
Now, on to the second highlight.
The BRITISH EMBASSY, located at Harmincad utca 6, participated in the European Heritage Days for the first time, which basically meant long queues and visitor restrictions.
On this day, you didn’t have to be the ambassador to penetrate the exclusive area of the Embassy. Just clever and interested.
I felt a bit proud to pass the guards and enter a world the public has never accessed before. This is how Columbus must have felt when setting foot on new grounds. I am trying to be modest.
Build in 1912, the interior design rewards. Visitors were shown the main entrance, the Old Banking Hall and the vault.
Even more impressive when you see the damages to the building during WWII.
Before and after a costly and dedicated restoration process.
Tomek explaining the intricate safety system of the Embassy’s vault (and how being a ‘successful criminal’ is impossible despite what Hollywood suggests. Just have to keep on blogging then.). The safety deposit boxes were disappointingly empty. The building was originally designed for the Hungarian Hazai Bank until 1946.
Recent historical events.
At the Embassy.
The ambassador’s lectern.
The Queen was amused.
Secrecy operates on a scarcity model.
If everyone knows about it, it’s not as appealing.
So please, be discreet and confidential when SHARING the post.