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The Giant of Deák Square

Updated: May 13, 2019

This monumental building, the Anker house at Károly Boulevard, near Deák Square was designed by Ignác Alpár in 1910. This old building needs to be renewed today due to its very bad condition but it is not decided yet who and when starts it.

Let’s go back into the past, what stood here in its place before? The so called Gyertyánffy House was owned by the Gyertyánffy family until 1864. This house was called „White goose”, it is famous for the fact that „gate tax” was paid at first here in Budapest and this was the first house of flats where the names of tenants were written on a board on the wall. The Gyertyánffy House was famous because it was the first 4 storey high house in Pest. Here was situated the Herzl Café, which was also called Jewish Café. In the house was the main meeting and working place of the match-makers, the "sadchens". Do you know who are they?

There are some jokes about their work. I share one with you:

- I can offer you a very nice lady –tells the Sadchen to the young man.

- No, I don’t want her.

- I see, you would like one girl from a rich family. I know one with big marriage portion.

- No, I don’t want. I would like to get married because of love.

- Oh, no problem, I have one of those on stock.

In 1907 a famous life insurance company bought the building and decided to build an enormous, prestigous and monumental centre here in Budapest. Ignác Alpár was the architect who just arrived back from a study tour in Egypt. He planned a pyramide–like building, two obelisks, coloumns with a timpanon. Zsolnay ceramics were used on top of the coloumns. As top decoration we can see a globe and an eagle. His unique idea was to split the building in the middle with a passage. It became a seperate street with shops which meant higher rental fees for the owners. The Anker Passage became very popular, although the building itself not really, people didn’t like the house.

Even his wife shouted – according to legend – when she first glanced at the building:

„Ignác! Are you not ashamed? What did you do here?”

Can you imagine that there are flats in the towers? How stunning could be the view from here? In 1980 artists owned these flats and used them as studio flats.

The history of the house is very interesting. In 1941 it was decided to be demolished but due to the world war this had been forgotten. The building was badly damaged during the war and the Zsolnay ceramics were replaced with grey stones. It is very sad that the last reconstruction works were made back in 1960. From that time the state of the house went even worse, now it should be a must to be renewed, to save this building.

According to latest news there are some investors who have the idea to rebuild the building to an exclusive hotel and luxury flats but the agreement with private owners, local government and state offices is still missing.

I really hope it can happen in the near future and we can preserve this building for the the next generations. As you can see, the time's iron teeth have chewed the building.

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