Andrássy Avenue is an iconic boulevard dating back to 1872. It links Erzsébet Square with the City Park. Lined with spectacular neo-Renaissance mansions and townhouses featuring beautiful façades and interiors, it was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2002. It is also one of Budapest’s main shopping streets, with fine cafés, restaurants, theatres and luxury boutiques.
It was decreed to be built in 1870, to discharge the parallel Király Street from heavy traffic and to connect the inner city parts with the City Park. The avenue was inaugurated six years later but the palaces were mostly finished only by 1884. The avenue was named in 1885 after the main supporter of the construction, Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy.
The construction of the avenue began two years after the decree. Its realisation was a blend of the plans proposed by the top three competitors Lajos Lechner, Frigyes Feszl and Klein & Fraser. Its palaces were built by the most distinguished architects of the time, led by Miklós Ybl, and financed by Hungarian and other banking houses. They were inhabited mainly by aristocrats, bankers, landowners and historical families.
The boulevard was renamed three times in the 1950s; a testament to the rapid political changes of the period. It became Stalin Street in 1950 during the Soviet occupation. During the 1956 uprising it was renamed to Avenue of Hungarian Youth. The following year the governing communists changed the name to People’s Republic Street. The former name of Andrássy was restored in 1990, after the end of the communist era.
In September 2011, Secretary of State for Culture Géza Szőcs officially announced plans to build a new structure along Andrássy Avenue, close to the City Park and near the existing Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and Budapest Art Hall. This building would house the collections of the current Hungarian National Gallery. This expanded plan, which would utilise the entire boulevard, is referred to as the Budapest Museum Quarter or Andrássy Quarter.