Published: October 02 2023
Have you ever wondered why those popular nightspots in Budapest are called "ruin bars"? It's a question that might pique your curiosity, especially if you're planning a trip to Hungary's vibrant capital. The short answer is that these bars are nestled within the 'ruins' of abandoned buildings, warehouses, and lots in Budapest's District VII, which largely contribute to their unique charm and rugged appeal.
What Exactly Are Ruin Bars?
Ruin bars are distinctive bars that popped up in the abandoned buildings, empty warehouses, and deserted lots scattered around Budapest, particularly in the historic District VII, the old Jewish Quarter. These venues are known for their eclectic and quirky decor, relaxed atmosphere, affordable prices, and wide range of beer and cocktails, making them a favorite haunt for both locals and tourists.
The Birth of Ruin Bars: Szimpla Kert
The story of ruin bars in Budapest started in the early 2000s, with the opening of a bar named 'Szimpla Kert'. The founders, looking for a cheap place to open a bar, found a disused stove factory in District VII and decided to set up their business there. Rather than investing heavily in renovations, they opted to retain the dilapidated charm of the building, giving birth to the first ruin bar. Szimpla Kert, with its vintage furniture, mismatched decor, and graffiti-covered walls, rapidly gained popularity.
How Did the Name Come About?
The term 'ruin bar' is derived from the concept itself - these are bars established in ruined, disused buildings, creating a unique aesthetic of urban decay and bohemian chic. The stark contrast between the run-down exteriors and vibrant, energetic interiors is an attribute that's synonymous with ruin bars. They are often adorned with random trinkets, mismatched furniture, eclectic art, and all manner of knick-knacks, which make each visit a visually novel experience.
The Spread of Ruin Bars
The swift popularity of Szimpla Kert inspired others, leading to the emergence of several similar venues in District VII and beyond. Each ruin bar has its own distinctive style and charm, but they all share a common theme of being set in 'ruins', hence the name. Some examples of these include 'Fogasház', an old dental factory; 'Instant', a complex situated across two buildings featuring multiple dance floors; and 'Mazel Tov', a stylish ruin bar with a Middle Eastern twist.
Impact on Local Culture and Economy
The emergence of ruin bars has significantly influenced Budapest's nightlife and the cultural landscape of District VII. Not only do these venues serve as social hubs and major tourist attractions, but they've also contributed to the revival and gentrification of the district. The influx of locals and tourists alike has brought new life and commerce to these formerly abandoned spaces.
In conclusion, the term 'ruin bars' in Budapest aptly describes this unique, trending concept that cleverly combines the historic, slightly gritty charm of dilapidated buildings with a vividly vibrant bar culture. It embraces urban decay and turns it into something beautiful, affordable, and hugely popular.