The Danube Palace was built between 1883 and 1885, in a splendid Neo-Baroque style according to the plans of Vilmos Freund. At that time it was known as the casino of Lipótváros – but not in the term of gambling, but an aristocratic club for entertainment. From when it was built till the Second World War the Palace served as a place of culture, supported many young artists, and even Bartók, Kodály, Dvorák played in its first-class concert hall. Since 1951 the building has been carrying out the cultural programs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Nowadays the beautiful halls and rooms of the Danube Palace are hosting cultural, social and gala events like weddings and theatre performances. The restaurant on the first floor of the building is only open for private events. It often holds welcome receptions for diplomats arriving to Budapest. The balconies, the staircase and the ceiling were made from oakwood and in the restaurant the visitor can see what an original baroque ceiling should look like. Originally, the whole palace was decorated with gold motifs, familiar to Baroque churches.
The Brown Salon and the Széchenyi Salon are also very prestigious and elegant rooms of the Palace. For example some parts of the film Evita - with Madonna in the main role - was shot in the Brown Salon. As well as the other rooms of the Danube Palace, these salons are often rented for various events.
After the Second World War the building was nationalised by the communist government. Some changes were made in the house during that era; however, most of them were restored to their original shape. Only a stained-glass composition remained unharmed above the staircase of the restaurant. It is really unique in its own way: It’s an artistic composition from the socialist regime. Artistic, but propagandised: Happy labourers dancing and feasting, while in the foreground a Hungarian soldier holds our national flag, accompanied by two young ladies with red flags – reminding us of the Soviet Union.
The beautiful theatre hall is the main reason why the building is under protection as part of our national heritage. One of the reasons is the ceiling because the dome is inside. The other reason is that the theatre hall has an air-conditioning system from the 19th century. Simple, smart and effective: The cleverly covered tunnels on the wall are dragging cold air from the cellar based on simple pressure difference. Nowadays this old system is assisted by a modern air-conditioning system as well. Above the stage a lyre can be seen. It is an original decoration, but in the Socialist regime, the Soviet coat of arm could be seen there.
The paintings of the theatre hall are by Lajos Márk.
Coordinates: 47° 30.0199' N, 019° 2.943' E
The Danube Palace is literally a two minute walk around the corner from the Four Seasons Gresham Palace and up the street from Saint Istvan's. We purchased tickets for the Symphony performance this past Saturday night. The venue is rather unusual as you go into what seems like a random building and up an elevator. It almost feels as though you're entering an office building or something. But, when you arrive, the room is intimate, old and beautiful! The peformance was so wonderful, lively and fun. The conductor and the musicians had so much FUN with the music and pulled you into it with them. We HIGHLY recommend a visit! Don't let symphony scare you. We found ourselves wanting the evening to last longer and a variety of selections was played. We saw three performances while in Budapest-a ballet, an opera and the symphony. This was our favorite!!
Visited October 2011
We saw the Hungarian state folk ensemble and the Rajko string ensemble at the Danube Palace. The auditorium is a splendid room with bas-relief cherubs cradling their violins and scenes of eighteenth-century pastoral life adorning the walls and ceiling, up four flights of red-carpeted stairs (there is an elevator). We loved the building and the performance. Our tickets were 3200HUF, not bad for the best category!
We booked tickets through Expedia before we left the UK for a concert at the Danube Palace on a Saturday evening and were really looking forward to it. We took a taxi there and initially it was hard to find as it's not a large building from the outside. It's just a very short walk from St Istvan's Cathedral in a pedestrianised street. We weren't disappointed with the setting, which was absolutely beautiful, and the Danube Symphony Orchestra were fantastic, particularly the very exuberant conductor, Andras Deak. The music performed was primarily by Hungarian and Austrian composers, popular pieces with lots of audience appeal, and very well played. A lovely evening!