OPNI remains in state hands – Former psychiatric hospital to be renovated

Hungarian version of the article: Állami tulajdonban marad az OPNI – Felújítják az egykori tébolyda épületét

December 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Following a recently passed law the building that once housed the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (OPNI) will be renovated, after standing empty for 13 years. The gardens of the property will also be revitalised, the Minister of Finance announced on Saturday.

In a video uploaded to his Facebook page on Saturday, Minister of Finance Mihály Varga described the government's plans for the former building of the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (OPNI) on Hűvösvölgyi út, which was closed in 2007. The MP for the 2nd District announced that after standing vacant for 13 years the building in Lipótmező, would be renovated and its surroundings put in order. The work would renovate a total area of 39,000 square metres. He also confirmed that an educational institution, boarding school, would move into the building constructed in 1868. 

OPNI building in 2013, 116  Hűvösvölgyi út, 2nd District (Source: Wikimedia)

Professor Zoltán Nagy, the last Director of OPNI, who worked at the institution from 1991 until its closure in 2007, also spoke in the video. He said the closure was experienced as a tragedy. He said that an incredible community had formed in the hospital, and it was a respected name. 

In the video, the professor showcased a corridor inside the building, which once served as a kind of agora, a community space, once filled palm trees and chairs, where doctors and patients would go to drink coffee and chat.

The area is currently closed to all visitors (Photo: Both Balázs/pestbuda.hu)

The professor also highlighted the world-famous glass windows of the chapel, made by Miksa Róth. These survived World War II because they were taken off their hinges and moved to in the cellar. He also talked about the murals of the chapel, which were painted by a famous decorative painter of the fin de siècle, Sándor Nagy. 

The glass windows of the chapel are world-renowned

Miksa Róth's glass windows in the chapel 

The video also explores the stunning 40-hectare garden of the closed hospital filled with old trees. The director also visited a tree planted by Queen-Consort Elizabeth, saying that only one of Sisi's two trees had survived into the 21st century. He expressed his hope that the new institution would take care of it.

Mihály Varga emphasized that following the government's decision, the institution, the property will be saved; they will remain in state ownership, to quote "no real estate or land speculation will happen here".

As described in a previous article on PestBuda: a new secondary boarding school will move into the building following its renovation. The school will receive students from Hungary and neighbouring states and provide extracurricular activities aimed at strengthening a Carpathian identity, Hungarian and regional values, culture and traditions.

The school will be operated by the Central European Education Foundation, which according to a parliamentary proposal will be the trustee of the building. As the minister confirmed in the video, the property will remain state-owned.

Source: Facebook page of Minister of Finance Mihály Varga

Cover photo: The building of the Lipótmező Hosptial from a bird's eye view in 2020

Read our previous article: New life for former psychiatric hospital in Lipótmező​

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