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April 4, 2011 / Helene Bienvenu, travel-writer

Opening soon in Budapest (1/3): CET / Ouverture prochaine à Budapest (1/3) : CET.

Budapest is not called the ‘pearl of the Danube’ for nothing! Usually I hate those stupid ‘marketing’ catchy set phrases – maybe because I have to use them in my writings?- however this one is quite true! The former warehouses next to the central market, in the 9th district (Ferencváros), will soon be turned into a new cultural institution: CET (the Whale). It’s not exactly clear (at least to me) what will be the functions of this audacious building mixing the old and the new architecturally wise. As it seems, it’s going to be some kind of up-market shopping mall with Hungarian delicacies shops, designer stores, an organic market and all sorts of (new) Hungarian cuisine restaurants. Said like that, it’s a bit disappointing. When I heard about CET last year, I was told it would be a real cultural venue but it seems that the planned ‘concert’ hall will only be used for private events… Anyway, something will be made of this place, which is a positive fact. And the priceless advantage of CET is that it has direct access to the Danube, there will also be a bike-lane and a nice pedestrian path following the river.

CET can also been seen as the missing link between the cultural district located a bit further (MUPA – National theatre) and the famous market-hall. It’s clearly part of the revitalization of the 9th district, a vast and ‘formerly’ (disputable, as in some parts it is still the case) poor district, once home to Attila József, one of the most famous Hungarian poets.  It’s one of Budapest least explored and most interesting space, I will hopefully have some time to write more about that soon. CET is supposed to be inaugurated by September 2011 (they hadn’t started to build the shops inside at the end of March 2011). Right now it’s heavily guarded, they won’t let you in unless, you’re – like me – on a press-tour.

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