PASSAGEWAYS

& PRINTA BUDAPEST
Rumbach Sebestyén utca 10.
BUILT IN: 1872


STORY

One of the most interesting and distinctive buildings in Budapest with passageways and interior courtyards leading through it was built in 1872 on the commission of Károly Wallaszky. It was designed by Ignác Knabe, who also designed the synagogue in Öntőház Street in Buda and the synagogue in the city of Szentes. Indeed the latter opened its doors to the community that very year.

The Wallaszky building was constructed in part on the site of an earlier edifice with passageways, the so-called Pauer House, where the Rumbach (or Rombach, to use the original German name) family lived. Sebestyén Rumbach, who later emerged to prominence as chief medical officer, was born in the Pauer House. He was held in high regard by the people of the area in part because he would provide treatment for the indigent for free. The locals began to refer to the small street on the far side of Ország Thoroughfare (today Károly Boulvevard), which at the time was nameless, as “Rombach,” and in 1874 it officially became Rombach Street. In 1939, it was given the name it has today, Rumbach Sebestyén Street.

In 1891, the real estate became the property of Endre Hadik-Barkóczy. In 1896, Hadik-Barkóczy had a four-story tenement building constructed on the side of the plot looking onto Károly Boulevard. The building, which was based on designs by Győző Czigler, was a sort of crown jewel of the building complex. Czigler, who also took part in the creation of the plans for the Széchényi Baths, was careful to be sure, in the process of creating his designs for the building, that the middle arcade of the building led to the synagogue on Rumbach Street.

The elegant side of the building that looks onto Károly Street was intended for the more well-to-do burghers of the city (for instance, it had a fencing room on the first floor), while the part of the building off of Rumbach Street was intended for the less affluent. There was one exception to this, however, the restaurant in Rumbach Street run by Márton Stern, which was frequented by counts, barons, and politicians in spite of the fact that the owner stipulated that each and every guest where a hat.

During the roughly two-month period of the large ghetto in Budapest, one of the soup-kitchens functioned out of the building at Rumbach Street 10. The soup-kitchen made use of the furnishings and equipment from Stern’s restaurant. It provided some 60,000 meals every day, 23,000 of which were made in the five enormous, 700-liter cauldrons of the Orthodox kitchen, 15,000 of which were made in this building. After the Second World War, the Stern restaurant merged with the Niszel eatery and in subsequent decades functioned out of a building on Révay Street. A Kosher coffee house that was opened a few years ago tries to conjure the mood and renown of the Kosher restaurant that prospered on Rumbach Street before the war.

The building today has undergone many changes. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Hadik tenement house was demolished and in its stead a characterless eight-story apartment building was erected. Of the original structure only the passageway remains. The other parts of the edifice fared a bit better. They were not demolished, but most of them were stripped of the adornments on the facades.

The commercial spaces on the Rumbach-Street side of the building are currently home to the Printa design store and coffee shop and the RS9 Theatre – Vallai Garden, in which primarily productions of contemporary dramas or innovative reworkings of older plays are performed. Printa sells works by young designers that are made using environmentally-friendly methods. The business also has a cultural function, as it hosts occasional exhibitions and art workshops.

See the artist: Balázs Varju Tóth 

By Viktor Cseh