The Danube Palace is a frothy Neo-Baroque concert hall completed in 1885 as part of Budapest’s massive expansion for the millennium celebrations. Hungary was a thousand years old in 1896 and the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I was determined to create a prestigious city that reflected its ancient standing.
The ornate auditorium is decorated with a liberal sprinkling of cherubim and frescoes of pastoral scenes. Following the Communist takeover of Hungary after WWII much of the original décor was destroyed but this has since been reinstated; the only remaining sign of Soviet occupation is a stained-glass window near the restaurant that depicts happy peasants frolicking with the flags of Hungary and the Soviet Union.
In the last century big names such as Bartók and Dvorák played at the Danube Palace and today it is home to the Danube Symphony Orchestra, which was established in 1961. They perform regular, joyous Hungarian folk concerts using traditional instruments in the intimate surroundings of the 292-seat auditorium. A festive concert is also held here every Christmas Day, played by the Danube Chamber Orchestra, when the repertoire consists of classic favorites such as Pachelbel’s Canon and Albinoni’s Adagio in G.