02 Feb Magyar card
The secrets of Kazinczy Street
The place where the unique Hungarian playing cards, the so-called “magyar kártya” deck was born in 1836 is exactly in the heart of the historical Jewish Quarter of Budapest, more precisely in Kazinczy Street. The inventor, a card painter himself, Schneider József was inspired to put Swiss heroes on the cards a few years after Friedrich Schiller’s dramatic version of William Tell had been played first in Hungary to encourage the rebellious spirit which had its peak not much later, when the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 against the Habsburgs burst out. Not using the real Hungarian leaders of the revolution on his cards, he succeeded to avoid any trouble with censorship and the government. As far as the high popularity of these beautifully decorated cards has been unbreakable throughout the centuries, we can say that Schneider added another piece of historic Hungaricum to the list containing Unicum, Rubik’s Cube, Kalocsa embroidery, Tokaj Wine or Túró Rudi…
I think, Kazinczy Street is one of the most characteristic ones in the whole Quarter with its Orthodox Synagogue and the mikveh, the kosher restaurants such as Hanna, Carmel or the kosher Tel Aviv Cafè, the iconic Szimpla Kert, Kőleves Restaurant, Macesz Bistro and some other emblematic ruin bars, eateries and shops. Next time you walk in this neighbourhood, do not miss to have a look at the commemorative plaque on the former house of József Schneider -it is the famous Wichmann Pub today- and the stunning complexity of the decoration on the door next to it. If you book a Jewish Walking Tour with me, I’ll tell you further little details and stories. Don’t think twice!