We were sat on plastic, flip down seats, made out of an old theatre chair, screwed into a heavily graffitied wall. We’d made our way through the open-roofed maze of rooms and the sound of the music had faded a little, although the base could still be felt through the floor. We had headed down to Szimpla Kert, the original ruin pub in Budapest and it was certainly living up to it’s hype!
Ruin pubs make use of the run down, derelict spaces in Budapest, creating unique settings full of mis-matched furniture and creatively placed oddities. There is quite an interesting history to the ruin pubs, you can read more here: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/hungary/articles/a-brief-history-of-budapests-ruin-bars/
Originally we had found what we thought to be Szimpla Kert and weren’t as impressed. After being told “Don’t turn left out of your hotel, not safe” by the taxi driver, we were understandably a little cautious! Therefore, when we went hunting, we’d found somewhere that proclaimed itself as ‘the original ruin pub’ and thought that we had reached our destination. We were somewhat unimpressed and couldn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. It quickly became clear that the small, narrow pub we were in was not the one we had set out to find and, after getting lost a couple of times, we found Szimpla Kert. Entering into the bar and taking a seat, we started to understand why it had come with such high recommendations.
Across the way from where we were sitting, there was an old car seat being used as theatre seating, in front of a projector screen showing films against a graffiti-ladened wall. Looking upwards, the court-yard between the two external walls was joined together by netting, flags and awnings, creating a market place type feel, enhanced by the rhythmic, yet unrecognisable, baseline supplied by a DJ who was strategically placed behind a wall of metal fencing and potted plants.
The vibe was that of a relaxed house party, groups of people sat chatting, people dancing, some playing with a prop or two (in this case a couple of bike wheels mounted on the walls) and others making use of the wall space to add their own graffiti to the blank spaces between other visitor’s scribbles. The eclectic mix of art and furniture matched the range of nationalities gathered in the bar, each bringing a little of their own culture to the shared experience. Each taking a little piece of the culture of the ruin pubs home in their heart.