History of palace

The building up of the palace district in inner Józsefváros, behind the National Museum dates back to the 1860’s. The buildings recalling history were built for the most illustrious aristocratic families.

The main building of the present Municipal Library, the former Wenckheim Palace was constructed upon the request of Count Wenckheim Frigyes, while the designer of the mainly neo-Baroque, in some elements neo-Renaissance palace was the Saxon Meinig Artúr.

Since its opening in 1889 it was considered to be one of the most beautiful palaces, however, after the client’s death it remained the family’s property only for one and a half decade. In 1919 it was expropriated first for the joiners’ crafts association, and then for the Proletarian Museum. For a while it was occupied by the invading Romanian army, then political parties, and later journalists’ and artists’ club were given place in the building.

In 1927 the capital bought the building for the Municipal Library.

The reconstruction took 4 years, and the Library opened in 1931. However, the Wenckheim Palace, due to its architectural characteristics, could run as a library to a limited extent, and could no longer host the institution working in it. As a consequence of the ever changing needs and the increase of the number of readers the extension and reconstruction has recently become pressing. In 1997 the municipal general assembly approved the programme, thus in 1998 the reconstruction started under the plans of Péter Hegedűs, Ybl-prize winner designer. The interior design works were managed by Mihály Hefkó and Csaba Jakab, while restoration was headed by Gábor Nagy. The construction was carried out by Magyar Építő Rt., MASZER Rt. and Középületépítő Rt.

The completely finished building complex was handed over to the readers and visitors on 12th September 2001. The extension and reconstruction resulted in the increase of the basic area and the capacity. The library stock was placed in a way that the ceremonial halls of the Wenckheim Palace are suitable to host events.

The ceremonial halls can be accessed from Szabó Ervin tér, through the wrought-iron triumphal arch, the motives of which give an idea of the rich interior ornament. The cloakroom, the rest-rooms and the smokers’ area are at the entrance. In case of bigger events service rooms of the ground floor can also be used.

From the hall, on the imperial stairs we can get to the upstairs rooms. The rosary stuccoes and marbles of the imposing bifurcating then reuniting staircase are illuminated also by the sunlight filtering in from the glass roof.

We arrive in the hall, from which the door in the middle leads to the Reception Hall. We can see a spacious oval room with fireplaces on both sides of the entrance. The Reception Hall is situated in the frontal part of the building, and thus its 3 enormous windows face towards Kálvin tér. From the Reception Hall two smaller salons open (the former boudoirs): to the right – on the Reviczky utca side – the Golden Salon, while to the left – on the Baross utca side – the Silver Salon.

To the left from the Imperial Stairs opens the Small Ballroom, which can be accessed also from the Silver Salon. The Small Ballroom is disconnected from the Big Ballroom by a glass door. Both ballrooms are suitable to host representative events separately, but the two rooms connected to each other produce the most splendid effect. Above the door-leaves there is the orchestral gallery, from which both rooms can be filled with music. The Big Ballroom is something different compared to the other rooms introduced so far in terms of its dimension and the richness of its ornaments, and this effect is heightened by the enormous mirrors glittering opposite to the windows. The Mirrors’ Corridor, which originally served as a resting place for dancers, is connected to the ballroom by a colonnade.

From the Reviczky utca side, through the present readers’ entrance can be accessed the Baroque style court, today a glass-roof covered Atryum, which is separated from the other parts of the library by an arcade. The area extended with the Coffee Shop – the former stable-is also suitable to host different events.

Central Library

1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin tér 1.
Go to
Opening hours
    Today 10:00-20:00
    Tomorrow: 10:00-16:00
Opening hours of the Children's Dragon Library can be read here.

E-mail: kktitkar@fszek.hu
Phone number:
(1) 411-5017
Manager: Farkas Ferenc

Registration for natural and legal persons:
free of charge / 12 months
Administration fee of registration reader card:
HUF 300 / 12 months

Daily card: HUF 1500 / day

Borrowing privileges in one library:
HUF 7300 / 12 months
HUF 5100 / 6 months
HUF 3700 / 3 months

Establishment of membership for using all branches simultaneously:
HUF 9900 / 12 months
HUF 7300 / 6 months



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