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All Budapest is a stage

Hungarian State Opera HouseBudapestGreater Budapest

Theatre buildings in Budapest are worth a visit even in themselves, since the three that we are recommending now have served Thalia’s priests and priestesses as well as the audiences who want to be entertained since the late 1800s.

The land of smiles

Budapest Operetta Theatre (6th district, Nagymező utca 17.)


The building was completed in 1894 based on designs by the famous Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer, and even before World War I it was an orpheum, a music restaurant where singers, actors and artists performed. The huge stage of the theatre hall was flanked by intimate boxes in a semicircle on two floors, and the dance floor had enough space for the waltz, polka, mazurka and gallop. The city's finest French restaurant operated in the fancy winter garden, and a concert café opened on the long street front. The first troupe moved here when in 1923 the Budapest municipality decided that the operetta genre should have its own home. Today, the theatre has the latest European stage technology, and the original ornamentation and the rows of boxes on the upper floor have been restored. The former objects remaining in the building – lamp statues and columns supporting the row of boxes – harmonise with the new stained glass windows, mirrors, marble cover and with the archaic furnishing in the auditorium buffet. The auditorium of one of the most visited theatres in Hungary is illuminated by a hundred-year-old chandelier. Whether you buy tickets for an operetta or a musical, an evening at this theatre is a real celebration, among the gilded stucco decorations and velvet-covered walls. Budapest is just as much the capital of operetta as Vienna. In the Hungarian capital the genre is spiced up with new flavours in addition to preserving the highest quality of tradition. It’s known all over the world that Hungarians play and sing this genre with unique fervour, fire, acrobatic dances, rich visuals and astonishing sensual and emotional storms. 

The golden palace of arias

Hungarian State Opera House (6th district, Andrássy út 22.)


Since the spring of 2022, you can once again explore the renovated Opera House, this citadel of opera and ballet, with a guided tour. This Neo-Renaissance palace, shining in its original glory and equipped with modern innovations, is guaranteed to enchant everyone who enters, and, of course, the best thing is to buy a ticket to a performance and let the music and the visuals bowl you over. The construction permit for one of the most significant monuments of modern Budapest was granted in 1875, but the original plan had to be revised several times as Franz Joseph I approved it on the condition that the opera house in Pest should not be bigger than the one in Vienna. An important condition was that the construction should be carried out only by Hungarian craftsmen, and the materials used could come exclusively from Hungary. The architect, Miklós Ybl, fulfilled this request with five exceptions: the marble coverings came from Carrara, the granite columns from Austria, the oak and cedar coverings from Italy, the stage equipment from Vienna and the chandelier from Mainz. The opening performance was held on 27 September 1884. Crowds flocked to see the building richly decorated with gold, marble and frescoes, and the entrance tickets cost the price of two horses. 

One of the most beautiful theatres in Central Europe for 125 years

Vígszínház (13th district, Szent István körút 14.)


The two brilliant architects mentioned above, the Austrian Ferdinand Fellner and the Prussian Hermann Helmer, designed forty-seven wonderful theatre buildings from Odessa to Prague and from Vienna to Budapest (actually two in the Hungarian capital), over the decades around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1896, Vígszínház was built in one year at its current site and Lipótváros, the new centre of the bourgeoisie, quickly developed around it. The performances and the artists at Víg – as it’s known for short – have always been very popular with theatre fans, and even today it boasts one of the best known troupes in the capital with the largest number of fans. Its auditorium radiates beauty and elegance. It can seat over a thousand people, yet the actors have rarely had to play to empty seats: from the first moment, this theatre has attracted full houses with legendary plays and musicals.