Anyone who buys an apartment on Rákóczi út in Pest also has a church

Slovaks live in ten counties in Hungary. Most of them live in the Southern Great Plain around Békéscsaba, Szarvas, Tótkomlós, and in the rural settlements of Mátra, Komárom-Esztergom county and around Budapest. In Angyalföld, on Lomb Street, there is a Slovak kindergarten, primary school, gymnasium and dormitory. According to the most recent census in 2011, about thirty-five thousand people declared themselves Slovak or dual-affiliated. This year’s census is important to them.

Almost two centuries ago, Pest-Buda was still a multi-ethnic city, where the majority of Germans lived. The XIX In the second half of the 20th century, the capital was built with boulevards, tenement houses, and smaller and larger palaces. The constructions required many workers, who came mainly from the Highlands.

– The Slovak workers who came to Pest-Buda also needed spiritual care – says art historian Anna Kovács.

– The Germans’ first Lutheran church was opened in 1811 on Deák Square, which was visited by a trilingual congregation – German, Slovak, Hungarian. Later, in their letter to the ruler, the Slovaks asked to form a separate church. When the church proved to be too small for the trilingual congregation, in 1839, Archduke József received a plot of land suitable for church and school purposes on what was then Kerepesi út.

The new church was handed over in December 1867. In accordance with the regulations governing the development of the city, the street had to be fenced off, paved, and later a canal built. The Slovak Church had no money for all this. To alleviate the problems, in 1892 a contract was signed with the builder Károly Deutsch, who agreed to build four-story apartment buildings around the church. In exchange for this, he receives the right to usufruct the houses for sixty years, from which he pays a certain amount to the parish every year, pays the congregation’s debt, repairs the church, builds a school, and provides an apartment and an office for the current pastor. In 1893-94, the apartment buildings were finally built and the church was pushed out of the street front: thus it became invisible from Rákóczi út.

At the end of the century, congregations of four to six thousand people attended Sunday services, in the 1920s and 30s only a thousand people attended. The church was on the verge of bankruptcy. Due to the explanation and population exchange after the Second World War, the church was visited by only a few dozen believers.

The building was sold in 1965. The Water Management Scientific Research Institute bought it for its library and lecture hall. The gallery was demolished and the interior was transformed into a three-story building by installing slabs. During the regime change, it was privatized, and the downfall began: the church was operated as a casino, a martial arts center, a gym, and a rummage shop.

The chapel was built on the first floor of the school located behind the church, where services are still held every Sunday. A part of the organ and the baptismal font are kept there. Than Mór’s painting of a praying Christ was placed in Dunaegyháza, the bell rings in the church tower of Szügy village in Nógrád county. The priest married Kálmán Mikszáth, who also speaks Slovak, and Ilona Mauks in the Rákóczi út church.

– The Luther house is also called Tótudvar, which became the most important meeting place of the evangelical Slovak community and functioned as a cultural and social center – says Anna Kovács.

Source: Magyar Nemzet by

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