Kőbánya Waterworks

One thing Budapest does very well is to open up the inner workings of its architecture from time to time. There’s been all manner of architectural events during my fairly short time here: from socialist-era power stations to ruined apartment blocks, but the Kőbánya reservior provided something spectacular.

A European Heritage Day gave us a chance to descend into the depths of Kőbánya Reservoir in District X. It’s not an area I’d spent much time in – I’d assumed it was simply another housing suburb – but turned out to be well-worth the tram ride.

We arrived at the gates sometime around midday. Although the queue outside was long and snaking, it moved fast and we soon found ourselves faced with a sqaut unassuming building just inside the grounds of the Waterworks. Stepping inside, a short spiral stairwell took us down, before opening up to a breathtaking reveal.

Built around 1870 to deal with recurring cholera epidemics, this huge, vaulted chamber is usually filled with water. Not being of the amphibious persuation, it’s lucky that that they drain it once a year for maintenance, which allowed us to descend into its waiting underbelly. It’s really an impressive place, still damp and humid (with the back-of-the-lizard-brain thought that this could refill at any time looming) and with great hulking pipes and pumps dominating the vaults. I wish I hadn’t sneaked a peek at some photos before I came to be honest, but seeing the scale of the chamber in person was still fantastic.

After half an hour or exploring, making shadow poses and general ooh-ing and aah-ing (the brickwork, for example, has an iridescence that my woeful photography skills could never capture), we emerged blinking into the light to explore the rest of the district, full of Budapest’s wonderful urban decay…

..before heading to the city’s Chinatown for some pretty amazing food (not pictured, but devoured).

I’m going to add a few more of these city exploration blogs as the arise. Let me know what you think.


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