Hungarian State Opera House: the temple of culture

Vivi Bencze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

In this article, I would like you to get to know my country’s State Opera House, that has been operating for 135 years already. The Hungarian State Opera House that has a reputation of the temple of Hungarian culture, opera and ballet is one of the most significant monuments from the 19th century in this Central European country. As you might assume, it can be found in the capital, Budapest, and you don’t even need a detailed description of how to approach this magnificent edifice. The State Opera House is situated on the main artery of Budapest, namely Andrássy Street. Walking along the avenue, we will also have a chance to bump into the House of Terror, and at the and of the road, we can admire the Square of Heroes, and we can also relax in the charming park, called Városliget.

Photo © Credit to Czgur / iStock

Dating back to more than a century

As I mentioned, the story of the State Opera House is dating back to more than a century, as well as several other characteristic tourist attractions in my country, which is rich in history and culture. Prior to the Opera House, it was the National Museum that served as a scene to all significant opera and ballet plays in Budapest. The great amount of demands to assure more and more opportunities for the audience lead to the city administration's decision to building an independent opera house. It took only three years from founding a committee, launching a tender for the plans until practically starting the construction. The mentioned tender’s winner was certain Miklós Ybl, a highly acknowledged architect in the history of Hungary. The year of the first construction works was 1875, and it took nine years to get the country’s very first Opera House erected in neo-renaissance style.

Photo © Credit to fazon1 / iStock

World famous composers’ pieces are all performed

The very first gala play was displayed in the autumn of 1884, in the presence of the Austro-Hungarian King, József Ferenc I. The opportunity of building the Opera House is related to his name indirectly by the way, as well as to Ferenc Deák’s, “the wise man of the nation” and Gyula Andrássy’s. Century-long conflicts between Austria and Hungary were compromised by these historical persons in the 1860s, which was a direct antecedent to the prosperity of Hungary. This, among others, resulted in countless newly built roads, stations and buildings, including the Opera House. As for the very first display, the mainly noble audience was lucky enough to be entertained by world-famous composers’ pieces on the first night, such as Ferenc Erkel and Robert Wagner. The opening acts of Bánk Bán, Hunyadi László and Lohengrin were all performed.

Even though the State Opera House has a capacity of 1261 seats, unfortunately, it is extremely tasking to obtain a ticket owing to the great interest. Still, you always have an opportunity to admire its amazing inner shapes and colours by visiting one of the Opera tours, for around 8 EUR. Since a great crowd of foreigners arrive day by day, Opera tours are available in English, Spanish, Italian and French languages three times a day, which includes even a mini-concert. Anyway, beyond the temple of Hungarian culture, opera and ballet, there are plenty more opportunities you can find in Budapest if you are fond of culture. I suggest you explore the capital through its famous museums, but I recommend you even Győr, one of the biggest cities in Hungary, 120 km far from Budapest, where you similarly can get a real culture shock.

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