In 1960, the dance singer Erzsi Kovács performed the title song of Júlia Hajdú’s operetta, Pest Is Worth An Evening”, which became such a memorable composition that it can still be heard in adapted forms. Franklin Ames said Budapest was beautiful and worth several weekends, not just one evening. Frank worked in Hungary for 26 months, and as always and everywhere, in his spare time he pursued his passion for photography. To read about how Frank came to Hungary click HERE.
The perception of a country, a city, depends on two things: what it says about itself (i.e. marketing) and what tourists, students and people working and studying there as foreigners experience. I was filled with immense pride and happiness when Frank told me that he liked Budapest so much that he spent so many weekends taking photos in our beautiful capital. So in this blog, we take you on a tour of Hungary’s capital, Budapest, through Franklin Ames’ photos to show Hungarian Americans why Pest is worth a night out.
Probably the most beautiful parliament building in the world – that’s what they say about the Hungarian Parliament House – was completed in 20 years. Imre Steindl’s masterpiece is the third largest parliament in the world and the second largest in Europe. The building has a floor area of 18,000 square metres, a length of 268 metres parallel to the Danube, a maximum width of 123 metres, a dome 96 metres high (the same height as the dome of St Stephen’s Basilica), 27 gates, 29 staircases and 13 lifts to the top floor. Today’s Budapest was created in the Pesti Vigadó on 17 November 1873 by the merger of Pest on the left bank of the Danube and Buda and Óbuda on the right bank. The Holy Crown and other coronation insignia, except the robes, are kept here.
The aforementioned St Stephen’s Basilica is one of Hungary’s most beautiful and important religious and tourist attractions. Naturally, Frank chose both buildings to photograph. Not complicated, you might think… but not so simple. For someone who already takes photos at such a professional level and with such technique (as you can see in the photos he shares here), it’s important that his pictures don’t have tourists gawping. This requires patience and often a specific photo permit. In addition to a professional camera and lenses, Frank needs a lot of patience to take a photo. You can’t go into St. Stephen’s Basilica without there being tourists or mass or weddings….so we were lucky to have a security guard who allowed us to take photos 10 minutes after the Basilica Lookout closed and 15 minutes before the Basilica closed. Istvan was not difficult to convince. On my phone, I showed Frank’s Instagram page with his photos, which he let us up to the lookout. That’s how the beautiful sunset picture you see here was born.
What’s even more impressive is that Frank doesn’t take photos for money, but to show off the amazing built heritage or natural beauty around us. He always, always offers his photo free of charge to every location he photographs, and has even taken a larger print of one of the images he took there. We pass by beautiful things every day without even noticing. People have proven this countless times during photo shoots. That is why I like what Franklin Ames represents. His pictures draw our attention to the amazing beauty around us, whether it is created by nature or man. I will share some of his pictures today.
Frank’s photos show the Hungarian Parliament and, by special permission, the Dome Hall where the Holy Crown is kept, St Stephen’s Basilica, the Prince of Buda and the Princess of Pest, the Pest Vigadó and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
If you’re interested, you can listen to the original and two of my favourite versions of the song here: Erzsi Kovács: Pest Is Worth An Evening – original version from 1960 and Cotton Club Singers version or Jazzation and Budapest Strings version. Enjoy!