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The Famous Socialist Buildings of Debrecen

The style of building referred to as “Socialist” buildings was built after World War II. and they still can be seen in several parts of the city. After the war, the city needed solutions that could be implemented relatively quickly and cheaply to replace the buildings destroyed by the bombing. 

The result of this endeavour was housing estates made of concrete panels. Tibor Mikolás, Tibor Schmidt and László Kertai were the emblematic “large-scale” designers of the period.

The famous “Socialist” buildings of Debrecen that you can still see:-

New Town Hall on the Kálvin Square: The building of the former HÁÉV (State Construction Company) headquarters was built on 3rd February 1968 on Kálvin Square. The statue of Mihály Csokonai still stands in the front of the building. Today, the building serves as the New Town Hall.

HÁÉV Headquarters PHOTO: László Szelény

Centrum Shopping Mall: The Centrum Hajdúsági Shopping Mall opened its doors in 1962. On the lower three levels of the building complex there was the Hajdúsági, then the Centrum shopping area. Later it was taken over by the Skála family. It no longer functions as a shopping mall but there is a bookstore on the ground floor and offices above. The triangle of the typical neon sign holder still exists and can be seen from below.

The former Centrum Hajdúsági Department Store on the Red Army Road. 
Photo: Fine Art Publisher

The 22 storey tower house: Debrecen’s tallest 75-meter residential building was handed over in 1973. It has 209 apartments and approximately 800 people lived in it. Because of the location of the building, situated right next to the railway station, the building is being considered for repurposing to a tourism information center with café with a panoramic vista across the city. 

Petőfi Square as it was, with its 22-storey residential building and the Híradó Cinema. 
Photo: Fine Art Publisher

The houses on the main square of Csapó Street: The houses on the Csapó street 5-13. bear the hallmarks of socialist realism. Shops were planned on the ground floor and the upstairs apartments were rented out, often to carefully selected residents. Unlike the flats, the shops had extremely high ceilings.

Ady Gymnasium: The downtown institution is a continuation of the Csapó Street block, also built on a vacant lot after the bombing. At first glance, it is a colourless, ornate house, but if you look carefully, you can notice the style and decoration of the windows and entrance. 

Viktória Restaurant: There were two restaurants on Oláh Gábor Street in the Great Forest. The Rose Garden Restaurant next to the Zoo has already been demolished, but Viktória Restaurant is still there. Also known for its special menus, the restaurant has been bearing this name for 25 years, since October 1990. 

Photo Credit: Ferenc Tulok

University’s dormitory:  We can “admire” the dormitory building of the University on Böszörményi Road. The building is the achievement of the socialist era. 

The famous “Socialist” buildings of Debrecen that were demolished. 

Ferenc Kölcsey Cultural Center (replaced by today’s Kölcsey Center): The “old” centre opened on 5 November 1978 to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. It was the fortress of Hungarian public education, science and literacy. The building complex was demolished in autumn 2003. The new Kölcsey Center, built in its place, was inaugurated on 4 February 2006.

Cultural Center and the Youth House Photo: Csobaji Előd

Újvigadó and the Boating Lake: The Újvigadó was built in 1970 and consisted of a self-service restaurant, pub, garden and upstairs party space. The Boating Lake in the front of it was the home of wooden boats, padlocks, and paddle boats. Both were demolished in 2013. Today, you can find here the underground garage of the Stadium, a fountain and the Mist Theatre.