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Pilvax Café—like you’ve never seen before

This year is the ninth year in which we commemorate the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence with creative material. A year ago, at the beginning of the restrictions due to the coronavirus, we were still traveling in the country looking for the most successful sculptures to create our revolutionary video content last year. Like everything else this year, we have been “forced” into online space as well, but that does not stop us from remembering in a worthy way one of the most important series of events in our modern national identity and one of its most emblematic places.

pen sketch by József Preiszler
Pilvax anno

The Pilvax Café must come to many people’s minds as an idealized illustration in history books. József Preiszler’s pen sketch depicts a large, hall-like space full of well-dressed, elegant 19th-century citizens who converse with each other in a cultured way. In fact, Pilvax wasn’t specifically a big café and could hardly always be the scene of high culture. What is indisputable, however, is that the events of March 15, 1848, began here in the morning. As tradition has it, Sándor Petőfi recited the National Song here for the first time, and Mór Jókai read the 12 points and the proclamation.

Only a few know, but the café named after Károly Pilvax was run by János Fillinger from 1846: even on the day of the outbreak of the revolution, he gave Petőfi and the other revolutionists morning black coffee. The café was renamed the Revolutionary Hall between March 15, 1848 and August of the year, and after the War of Independence it was renamed Café Herrengasse, later Schőja Café. In 1911, the café, unfortunately, fell victim to urban planning, so today we can only know from contemporary photographs and stories what this legendary place might have looked like.

Based on the collected café photos, we reconstructed the interior with 3D modeling and then equipped it in Unreal Engine with lighting and furniture that can best reproduce the characteristic mid-1800s Pilvax atmosphere. In an atmosphere reminiscent of morning hours, we may even ask: are the revolutionists not present because they have not yet arrived at Pilvax, or because they are already on their way to the University of Law? (Or did they just have to find another place because of the curfew restrictions?…)

In addition to the pictures showing the details, a 360° panoramic video allows us to fly virtually back to the morning of March 15, 1848, straight to Pilvax.

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