You always find out interesting things about big cities of the world when you start researching their local histories

 – an everyday house of flats might turn out to have been the site of a criminal investigation or the scene of some powerful human drama. Rombusz Terrasse is just the same: it was once a hotel, a cinema, a brothel and to this day is the staging area of Metro Line 3, while also being the site of an out of use caisson chamber, now a bar. And most importantly: it has been completely renovated, has a lawn of green grass, and functions as a community space as well! The first building that stood at the site was built in 1863 based on architect Károly Hild’s designs, and was later demolished in 1902 to make space for the historic-style Két Korona Szálló (Two Crown Inn). The old city wall used to stand nearby (marked by the routes of trams 47 and 49 today), so Kálvin Square and its vicinity were an ideal place for merchants to stop before entering the city or passing on their wares. Because of huge incoming traffic, various inns and hotels were built here, just like the famed Inn at Ráday Street.

The Two Crown Inn got its name due to the fact that a night spent there cost two crowns.

It wasn’t exactly a Grand Hotel Budapest – for example according to rumours prostitutes were regular guests there. Between 1911 and 1918 the inn had a cinema on its ground floor which went by the name of Kedélyes Mozgó (Jovial Movies), much to the delight of the inn’s patrons. World War II meant the end of the inn, as it was hit multiple times during the bombing of Budapest. An interesting tidbit: when demolishing the remnants of the building, one of the workers fell into a cell that was sealed up many years before – and found various skeletons there. This of course started other rumours, one in particular about how the wealthier patrons of the Two Crown Inn never had a chance to leave and return to their families... A more realistic explanation for the the cell is that two hundred years prior Kálvin and Fővám Squares were used as cemeteries by the Turks occupying Pest and Buda.

The plot of land was left empty and gained a new function only in the 1950s, when the construction of Metro Lines 2 and 3 commenced.

Due to its location, the plot at Ráday Street 10-12 was designated as one of the construction sites of the M3 Metro Line. The underground construction of the line was only started in the 1970s, but various service tunnels had to be built beforehand. Workers used these tunnels to get the various parts of the machinery needed for digging underground, along with all the necessary tools and manpower. The average pace of tunneling was about 3 metres per day – this is a slow going and complicated process, which is why metro construction is so expensive.
The first section of the North-South (M3) Metro line was finished on the 31st of December, 1976, with the second section being completed in 1981. In 1981 the line went from Kőbánya-Kispest to Élmunkás Square (today: Lehel Square), and was later extended to Árpád Bridge, still later until Újpest-Központ. Though transportation above ground may slow down to an average of 8-9 km/h, the metro can keep a speed of about 50 km/h to this day.
Memories of the historical metro line construction are preserved in the garden of Rombusz Terrasse in the form of barrack-style buildings and various outdated signs (ie. Metro KÉV – Central Construction Company) you can find there. The plot also has two service tunnels, one 5.3 metres, the other 3.5 metres in diameter. You can see these as two green mounds in the garden – the larger one my still be used during the future construction of Metro Line 5, while the smaller one is part of the ventilation system of Metro 3. One of the barracks also has a very special chamber in it: the caisson chamber once used during metro line construction. To protect workers against groundwater, underground building sites were highly pressurized – when workers came to the surface, they had to be slowly „brought out” of high-pressure back to ground level air-pressure. Caisson sickness may be familiar from movies in which people have to be brought to the surface from deep underwater, carefully and slowly, to prevent health damage from the difference in air-pressure. Due to this danger the metro line workers had to wait between 10 and 30 minutes in the chamber after coming back above ground.

Today the caisson bar of Rombusz retains most of its original form, is decorated in red, and awaits new visitors.

 It may not save lives today, but you can now order a beer at the bar inside – and a good beer is always good for the soul!
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