Order our new book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
Mini book

Budapest, Hungary

Szabo Ervin Library

A 19th century artistocrat's mansion, turned into a library, hidden in a modern library 

The incredible Szabo Ervin Library in Budapest is a hidden treasure, left out of guidebooks, tucked into a busy section of the city. But for those in the know, the Szabo Ervin Library is a stunning step back to a time when libraries were like mansions - perhaps that’s because it’s in one.

Built by Count Frigyes Wenckheim (1842 – 1912), a well-known Hungarian aristocrat at the end of the 19th century, the Central Library is easy to miss - today a modern library surrounds it, secreting away the beautifully preserved Wenckheim Palace.

The City Council purchased the building and converted the beautiful palace rooms into reading rooms for their new library in 1931. The Hungarian neo-baroque arcitecture makes for a handsome backdrop to the walls of leather tomes. The old Dining Room, converted to a long reading room, centered by a long table, once for feasts, now for quiet contemplation, is an especially ambient place. The former Smoking Room, with its spiral staircase leading to a gallery also stands out. These two rooms are warmly lit and encased in dark wood.

While it can be a confusing process to find the Central Library in the maze-like modern section of the library, once you do, all that is left is to pick out a beautiful old book, sink back into a deep leather chair, surrounded by the soft light of chandeliers, and relax like a 19th century Hungarian artistocrat.

Know Before You Go

Bus No. 15, 9
Underground No. 3
Trolley-bus No.83
Tram No. 47, 49

Edit Place