Danube Palace – The former casino of Lipótváros was built between 1883-1885, in a beautiful Neo-Baroque style following the plans of Vilmos Freund. At that time it was known as the an aristocratic club for entertainment not a casino in terms of gambling. From after its completion until WWII the Palace served as a place of culture, supported many young artists, even Bartók, Kodály and 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.
Today the beautiful halls and rooms of the Danube Palace are hosting cultural, social and gala events like theatre performances or weddings. For private events there is an exclusive restaurant on the first floor of the building. It often holds welcome receptions for diplomats arriving to the Hungarian capital. On the oak-wood staircases, balconies and the ceiling in the restaurant the visitors can see an original baroque design. Formerly, the whole palace was decorated with gold motifs, just like Baroque churches.
The Széchenyi Salon and the Brown Salon are also very prestigious and elegant rooms of the Palace. Some parts of the film Evita with Madonna in the main role was shot in the Brown Salon. Along with the other rooms, these salons are often rented for various events in the Danube Palace. After the Second World War the building was nationalised by the communist government. Most of the changes made in the house during that era have been restored to their original shape. The only thing that remained unharmed during the regime is a stained glass composition 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 – a reminder of the Soviet Union.
The main reason why the building is under protection as part of our national heritage is the beautiful theatre hall. It is truly unique due to the dome that is inside the ceiling. The other interesting feature 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 made by Lajos Márk.