Kelenföld Power Plant is located in Budapest and was originally established in 1914, in conjunction with Hungary's electrification program. It was known as one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced throughout Europe and supplied electricity to the entire capital. The site itself featured the first boiler house as an electrical supply building in the city. Between 1922 and 1943 the plant underwent two extension phases which introduced 19 modernised steam boilers and 8 turbines. These were operated at 38 bar steam pressure and transferred the increasing demand for electricity through 30 kV direct consumer cables. The equipment used was considered state of the art at the current time and was all produced by Hungarian manufacturers. By the 1930s the facility contributed to 60% of Budapest's heating and hot water which made up 4% of the country's overall energy supply.
The infamous Art Deco control room, also known as 'Special K' was completed in 1927, after two years of construction. Designed by notable architects Kálmán Reichl and Virgil Borbíro, because of this, it's listed as a protected site under Hungarian law and cannot be restored or destroyed. The Kelenföld control room is widely acclaimed as one of the most stunning monuments of industrial art. It uniquely explores the boundaries between functionality and grandeur, featuring a decorative oval skylight alongside the retro style green panels, hosting a range of buttons, dials, and gauges. Once the Second World War had begun, a small concrete shelter was added for the employees. This was due to the ornate glass ceiling, as it was considered to be a target during the bombing raids in the city.
By 1962 the plant was modernised again with accordance to the heat supply demands of the capital. The existing condensing technology was replaced with back pressure heating turbines and hot water boilers. This increased reliability, as coal was steadily becoming more outdated and inefficient. In 1972 gas turbines with a capacity of 32 MWe were integrated into the plant and were the first to be put into operation throughout Hungary. In 1995 another redevelopment phase was initiated which provided the power station with a heat recovery steam generator and later on in 2007 a water treatment plant was established. The control room itself was closed in 2005, since then it has been featured in a few well-known films such as the Chernobyl Diaries and World War Z. Other areas of the site remain active through private ownership, with buildings still providing power to Budapest.
We arrived in Budapest feeling cautiously optimistic, we had other locations on our agenda for the weekend but Kelenföld was a significant reason for our visit. It's something I've wanted to see since I started exploring a couple of years ago and failure was not an option for us. We had 3 days and therefore 3 attempts (at the minimum) to access it. Fortunately for us, we managed to get in the first time around and we couldn't have really asked for a better way to kick off the trip.
Once we made it inside the plant we found ourselves lost in a maze of locked doors and sealed off sections. Understandably they wanted to make it as difficult to get into the control room as possible. Whilst searching we heard the familiar sound of nearby footsteps and radio so we quickly found a decent spot to hide. "We have to keep moving, if we stay here we'll get busted," I said to my exploring partner, after a handful of excruciating minutes, listening to them steadily get closer and so we pressed on. Without giving too much away we managed to find our way to the main spectacle and were instantly blown away by it's immense beauty. So without further ado, onto the photos!
Unfortunately, with the security guard on the hunt for us we decided to bounce before getting caught ((more so my other half than myself.) As much as I would have loved to stay, I didn't argue. Means we have an excuse to go back!
As always if you've got this far, hope you enjoyed reading my report
The railway depot was built next to the passenger station in the middle of the 19th century. It included workshops for the repair of trains, such as a carpentry and a locksmithing / metalworking. The first building was demolished at the end of the 19th century and has been rebuilt new & larger afterwards. In 1897 it had 12 locomotive stalls in the train shed, there were two turntables and three water cranes in the entire station area.
On average, the new railway depot was initially responsible for 50 steam locomotives, in 1914, altogether it had 696 coworkers. Towards the end of the Second World War in 1944, 114 locomotives were based here, but only 18 trains were in operable condition after the war.
The maintenance of the railcars remained here until January 1989, then the railway depot was shut down. Currently, there are considerations to demolish it.
For the first time I visited the place in 2006, then twice in the following years. However, I never could enter the building, because it was always locked. But after all, on my last visit a few weeks ago the railway depot was accessible. Finally...!
Back in the early 2000's I started videotaping (yes, we used tape back then) some of my explorations of various abandoned industrial sites in and around Toronto. I eventually made a film called Echoes of Forgotten Places, it may be one of the earliest documentaries on the subject.
It's available once again on DVD region 0:
The trailer is still on youtube: