In 1827 István Széchenyi invited 46 people to the Vogel-house to found a casino.
With the Casino of Pest Széchenyi wanted to have the Hungarian version of the British club life.
- The urban mouth knows the Klotild palaces as Klotild (on the right hand side) and Matild (on the left). According to a legend the contractor of the 2 palaces named them after his daughters in order not to mix them with each other while delivering materials to the construction site.
Princess Clotild by the way was from the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha family and she was the wife of Archduke Joseph Karl of Austria. She initiated the construction of the palaces on her on properties.
These two palaces are almost mirror images of each other were both designed in Spanish- baroque style. They both act like the gate of Pest and as the guards of Elisabeth Bridge.
The 2 48 meter high towers are topped with the enlarged copy of the Archdukes crown.
These places were the first in Budapest, where an elevator was built in. The company – Otis – which delivered the lifts is still world-wide famous for its products.
The fireplaces were designed and delivered by the Zsolnay Manufactory. The glass windows are from Miksa Roth workshop.
- In the old days one of the most conservative cafes of the city was located in the Klotild Palaces more precisely in Matild.
In 1901 the so-called Downtown Café (Belvárosi Kávéház) was opened here. In 1910 the Rónai family took over the place to ensure themselves a place in Budapest Café History hall-of-fame.
In 1945 only 5 days after the siege of Budapest this was the first café which opened up.
They offered a telephone service, such as postboxes to their regulars, so they could have letters sent to them here.
Typists and bicycle messengers were also at disposal of patrons and a so called poste-restante message delivery service as well.
All the above mentioned services were offered in English as well.
- The Downtown Café was nationalized and closed in 1949.
In the 1950s ELTE centre university canteen was here which was very popular among students. The canteen was the birthplace of the new-born Hungarian literature and intellectual elite.
Later from 1968 chess tournaments were organized in the upper floor where the entrance fee was only 5HUF while on the first floor the intellectual elite (Gyula Bodrogi and Gyorgy Moldova came here in a regular base) held night long discussions and debates.
The students disappeared in 1969 when an expensive self-service restaurant have been replaced their canteen followed by a posh tourist-oriented restaurant / cabaret in 1984.
The Lido besides being a casino was also very famous for its sassy and erotic show presented to those tourist, who wanted to get more than a bowl of goulash soup during the evenings of the 1980s. The leading entertainers were Gyorgy Korda and Klara Balazs and the Lido Girls performing in wanton costumes.
In 2000 a café-like establishment was opened which somehow could not survive the past years.
- The culture of the casinos in Hungary dates back to the early 19th century.
In 1827 István Széchenyi invited 46 people to the Vogel-house to found a casino where smart men from different classes could talk in Hungarian about different topics and problems.
With the Casino of Pest Széchenyi wanted to have the Hungarian version of the British club life what he could explore very well during his trips to the western part of the European continent as a young nobleman.
Széchenyi wanted to leave politics out of the walls of the Casino but the government has always considered the Casino to be a kind of a political institution.
In the ball room of the Casino of Pest there were dance parties and concerts as well: these were the only times when ladies were allowed to visit the building but their donations were more than welcomed all the time.
In the following then years after the foundation of the Casino of Pest there were more than 100 casinos founded in Hungary and Transylvania.
There is a sentence on the facade of the building which usually served cultural purposes, it has been functioning as the casino of the army officers since 1899: „A haza minden előtt” which means „The country before everything else”.
There are two 3,5m high statues of soldiers on the wall of the building.
The officers’ casino established at the end of the 19th century was obliged to suspend its working due to the beginning of the World War I and the subsequent historical events.
After the normalization of the circumstances a strong request emerged towards that famous and qualitative institution to be a centre of the cultural and public life for the officers of the Hungarian Royal Armed Forces.
After the replacement and the restauration of the losses suffered during the previous years, the substantive work could have been started. Due to the political will and the talent of the management of the institution it was possible again to lift the officers’ casino up to the level of the relevant institutions in some years.
Currently the building is functioning as the headquarters of the MKB Bank.