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  • Drechsler Kastely, Drechsler Palota, Drechslerk.
  • Address: 25, Andrassy street (ut).
  • Opposite Budapest Opera House.
  • with Reitter café (Reutter).

Opposite the Budapest Opera House, the Reitter Café in Drechsler Palace (often referred to as Drechslerk) was one of the favorite gathering places of the Budapest Arts Society at the turn of the century and at the turn of the century. Ibsen, Puccini and Leoncavallo turned to the café, where they saw the old Jókai Mórt dancing for the last time and Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) himself regularly played billiards in his spare time here.

Drechsler palace. Billiards Room.

Built between 1893 and 1896 to the designs of Ödön Lechner and Gyula Pártos, it was commissioned by the Hungarian Railways as an investment for its worker’s pension institute. The huge building sits on the four land-lots that MÁV purchased opposite the Opera House, which was then still under construction. At the time Lechner had just returned from a stint in France where he’d helped renovate some 30 castles, and this building has clear influences from the French Renaissance style.

Drechsler palace.

It was designed to complement the Opera House, without overshadowing it. From the outside it’s easy to see the Neo-Renaissance style: the rooftop windows, the towers at the corners, the pointed balconies and the style of the window frames, for example. As can be seen from the plans the block isn’t rectangular but trapeze shaped.

Drechsler palace.

Originally there was a three-storey café/restaurant space in the basement, ground floor and first floor, above which there were 24 rental apartments. During Hungary’s communist years these grand homes were divided up, so in effect there are now considerably more living spaces. During this period the bottom three floors were given to the Hungarian State Ballet Academy and so the café/restaurant areas were remodelled to suit ballet training.

Drechsler palace. Billiards Room.

The first tenant of the basement, ground floor and first storey was Nándor Reutter who established the Grand Café Reutter, but the name that stuck is Drechsler Palace (pronounced drex-ler) after Béla Drechsler‘s Drechsler Café.

Drechsler palace and the Budapest Opera House.

It’s hard to imagine these grand cafes now, but from old photos it seems that in the building’s prime, in the 1890s and early 1900s, the outdoor area under the archways must have been bustling with patrons. There was also a saloon for ladies, a skittle alley, a gaming room, a brasserie, a banquet hall, a beer hall, playground and even electric lights! Famous people to have visited include Giacomo Puccini and Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).

Drechsler palace.

Drechsler palace.

Drechsler palace and the Budapest Opera House.

Drechsler palace. Café Reitter.

Drechsler palace. Café Reitter.

Drechsler palace. Café Reitter.

Drechsler palace. Café Reitter.