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The former Bartók Cinema

Although it has been just a fading memory since the summer of 1998, 62-64 Bartók Béla Street, just next to Móricz Zsigmond Square, used to witness romantic dates and movie premieres. This is where Bartók Cinema, at the time the most modern movie theatre in South Buda operated. It was opened in 1910 by a pioneer of Hungarian movie theatre business, Gyula Gyárfás under the name Simplon with 312 seats. At the time it parallely functioned both as a movie theatre for silent movies accompanied by piano and as a stage for revues presented to the aristocratic audience.

The former Bartók Cinema Photo: funiQ

The house was reconstructed in 1934 and turned into a 6-storey state-of-the-art building with a backyard and the redesigned Simplon Cinema downstairs with 630 seats. Entering the cinema visitors got 9 feet below surface level, however, thanks to creative interior design with mirrors and a gallery it did not cause any inconvenience. The floor ascended to the screen and seats were arranged in curved rows, which was quite innovative in the city at the time. All these features together with special lighting effects made Simplon the most modern movie theatre in the city. After the death of the reputable Gyula Gyárfás in 1940 the family kept on running the cinema for a while, but later on the management was changed more times. Management changes brought changes in the name of the cinema also: Újbuda, Liberty and finally Bartók Cinema in 1961.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s the cinema was host to movie premieres and long queues were expectable. As time passed by the building started to decay and get outdated technologically and finally, it shut down in 1998.

Meanwhile, the building out of use for long got listed. Although, in a different business field, it reopened and we can even try the velvet covered flip-up seats of old days. Semmi Extra (Nothing Special) Restaurant recalls the atmosphere of the cinema with an interior design that truly complements the attraction of their hamburgers. Addicted2Caffeine next door represents new-wave coffee shops of Budapest and both places are good examples for a successful reorganization.

A tram passing by the former Bartók Cinema Photo: funiQ

Recommended tours

A tour in the heart of Újbuda A walk around the cultural center of South Buda answers how a building was named after 500 silver coins or how a church still in use today was built on the first floor of another building, or how youngsters had fun at the Park Stage of Buda.

An architecture tour in Újbuda This route helps to discover a selection of 20th century architectural attractions of the district, especially those that reopened with a new function after having lost their old one: bus station transformed into a restaurant and café, or a gearbox factory turned into a supermarket.