History of the Czech Republic’s Embassy Building in Hungary
In 1918 the first seat of "The Office of the Delegate of the Czechoslovak Republic" in Budapest was leased out in the building of a former Austrian Delegation in Budapest, at Akademia Street 17. However, the size of this building did not satisfy the Office' s requirements. Moreover, in connection with the intended continued normalisation of diplomatic relations with Hungary, the necessity for finding a new and adequate seat for the future Czechoslovak Embassy arose. For that purpose, in 1920, there were intensive efforts made in searching for a suitable building. Among others, bids for sale under consideration included a building at Andrássy Avenue No. 109, a house at Lendvay Street 5, or a building at Eötvös Street 11/b. Finally, the palace of Count Zichy at Rózsa Street No. 61 was selected.
This palace was erected in the end of 19 th Century by architect Bedřich Kovács and designed for residential and representative purposes of Count Zichy's family. As the time went by the building's title changed hands several times, and it was reconstructed a number of times. For a short period it served even as a casino. Roughly in 1910 the building was sold to the Artists' Association of Budapest City and the House of Artists ("Müvészház") established in it. Under this owner the second floor was built on top of the building. The interesting point is that until 1937 there was an onus attached to the building, registered with Land Register, stipulating that this floor may always serve for artistic purposes only, and that it may never be used for housing purposes.
The last owner of the palace, prior to palace's sale to the Czechoslovak Government, was a real estate company - Clubház, A.G. Contract of purchase was signed on June 22, 1922. It was signed by the first ambassador of Czechoslovak Republic to Hungary, by one of the most prominent diplomats of pre-war time Czechoslovakia, Mr. Hugo Vavrečka (Note: H. Vavrečka was the grandfather (from the mother's side) of Mr. Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic). The acquisition price was 25 million Hungarian crowns. From 1923 to 1925 the building underwent a complete reconstruction. Among other things, the two-floored theatre hall, sized 10x25 m, was cancelled and the Ambassador's representative residence established instead.
Following the disruption of diplomatic relations between Czechoslovakia and Hungary (March 1939) the embassy was winded up. Furnishings and equipment was partially sent to Prague and sold while the rest was transferred to the German Embassy. At the turn of 1944-45 the building suffered severe damages due to war operations.
In 1945 negotiations were commenced in order to return the building to Czechoslovak Republic. It happened so and the palace, following the required modifications, began to serve again as the Embassy of Czechoslovakia. In the following years the embassy offices were moved to the building at Stefania Street 22-24, and the embassy's commercial section was established in the palace at Rózsa Street. After the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 the palace was assigned to the Czech Republic. In 1995 there was an extensive reconstruction work commenced and performed to large extent according to the original construction plans. Reconstruction work was completed in 1997 when the Czech Embassy moved back to this object.