In the middle of Budapest, located on Szabadság ter, is the Adria Palace. This beautiful but forgotten building has a varied history, and there are plans to restore the Palace to its former glory.
Adria was a shipping company with the full name of Adria Magyar Királyi Tengerhajózási Részvénytársaság.
This translates to the Adria Royal Hungarian Sea Navigation Company. Although landlocked today, before WWI, the borders of the country known as Austria-Hungary were different, enabling Hungary to access the Adriatic Sea.
The Adria Palace was designed in 1900 by Artúr Meinig, who also designed the Wenckham palace. Built in 1902, the exterior of the building contains many marine elements such as shells, ropes, anchors, and sea creatures.
The Adria Palace has a twin building in Rijeka, Croatia, which is still a shipping headquarters. Although the Rijeka building had a different designer, it’s possible to see common themes, such as four figures representing the company’s travels.
Rumor has it that the figure representing Asia on the Adria Palace used to be a woman. However, after being damaged by a bomb, the statue was repaired to show a man with a mustache and stern look. However, he retained the bosom of his predecessor.
After the war, the borders changed and Hungary lost access to the sea. As a result, the Adria shipping company closed down. The building was abandoned by the company, but since it had escaped bomb damage during the war, it was seen as an attractive business location. A variety of different companies took up residence in the following years
Initially, it was used by the Hungarian Association of Partisans then the Express Travel Agency. Directors of both companies used the Adria to hide their alcohol. The director of the Partisan group used the safe, while the agency director hid his in a wooden chest in one of the offices.
The Express Travel Agency was in residence at the Adria for 40 years, so long in fact that the building was known for some time The Express House. The agency was forced to close in 1990, unable to stay afloat in a changing market.
Ypsilon was a coffee house on the ground floor which served Parisian coffee, claiming to be the only place in Budapest that did so. The Adria also hosted the Heim Pái children’s hospital as well as a dental surgery.
The Hungarian Commerce Bank of Pest was also based here at one point, resulting in the Adria being the location of a tragic robbery in 1935 that saw two fatalities: a clerk and an errand boy. The culprits were apprehended two days later, following a substantial manhunt.
Today, the Adria Palace manages to retain many elements of its grandeur. Inside there is no graffiti, no destruction, just faded beauty.
This could be because the building stands in the center of an urban area rather than a remote location that encourages vandalism. Many urban explorers and photographers comment on having passed the Adria Palace or seen it in the back of photographs without actually realizing what it was.
An explorer who visited in February 2020, before lockdown occurred, noted that the gates were open and it was easy to access the Palace. However, other explorers have commented that some of the rooms in this building are occupied apartments, so care must be taken not to trespass or disturb residents.
Those who make the trip are treated to the superlative sight of perfectly preserved marble slabs, stately wooden doors, stunning fireplaces, and particularly impressive bay windows where the neo-Baroque features and decorations are still intact.
Being such a well-preserved piece of history, the Adria Palace has naturally attracted movie location scouts. Parts of A Good Day to Die Hard and Red Sparrow were filmed here. Perhaps most notably, it was used for a scene in Blade Runner 2049, featuring the iconic Gaff. The scene, which lasts only a minute or so, can be viewed here.
The current owners of the Adria Palace are the BDPST Group, a property development company. In March 2019, they announced via a press release that they had plans to renovate this historic building, turning it into apartments, offices, and storage facilities.
This is not the first historical renovation project that BDPST has undertaken since the company is also working on Schossberger Castle in Tura, northeast of Budapest.
These incredible photographs of the Adria Palace in Budapest were taken by Arkadiusz who is passionate about history and photography. Arkadiusz visits abandoned places that are hard to reach.
On his website, Urbex Travel, you can find pictures of both stunning places and decaying buildings. In addition, you can follow his work on Facebook, Instagram, and Behance. He works on the principle: take only pictures, leave only footprints!
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