In Pictures: How people in Budapest are keeping cool amidst heatwave

Inflatable swimming pools are the new must-have item around Budapest as residents of Hungary’s sprawling capital struggle to stay cool amid one of the most oppressively hot summers in the country’s history.

he pools have been popping up everywhere — in shared, open spaces outside apartment buildings, on small balconies, but also in the backyards of suburban houses where surrounding greenery cannot mitigate the heat.


Barnabas types on his phone as he works from the home office in a pool in the garden while his wife, Rebeka, left and sister-in-law, Emma, cool down in Budapest, Hungary (Anna Szilagyi/AP)

To stay cool, Budapest’s residents have been fleeing to relatives who have a house in the forested suburbs or air conditioning at home, sometimes sharing living space with up to a dozen other family members.

Some, like Barnabas Kantor, are taking their work along for a splash. The 29-year-old social media manager has been working on his phone for days while sharing an inflatable pool with his wife and sister-in-law. The sisters installed the pool outside their parents’ suburban home, where the entire family has been staying for weeks to escape the urban heat.


Zita sprays water on her dog to cool it down (Anna Szilagyi/AP)

In the city itself, families with small children often stay in their air-conditioned apartments during the hottest part of the day, venturing onto their balconies only after the sun sinks low in the sky to let the youngsters play in the water.


Agota plays with her youngest daughter who sits in a bucket of water on their balcony (Anna Szilagyi/AP)

But the rules for conservation of old buildings in Budapest’s historic centre make installing air conditioning impossible. So the owners of the otherwise prized apartments there spend their days in darkened rooms in front of electric fans.


Edith works from home while holding her grandson in a room where the blinds are closed to make it cooler (Anna Szilagyi/AP)

Water hoses — another relatively cheap and time-tested means of staying cool during long sweltering days — are also celebrating a big comeback, and are particularly popular with children and pets.

Hungary has experienced several heat waves since mid June, with day-time temperatures rising to 40C and remaining high through the night. The country recently shattered the record for its hottest night, when a temperature of 25.4C was recorded in Budapest on July 26.


A couple read in their apartment with a fan on to try and keep the place cool (Anna Szilagyi/AP)

The previous record of 24.6C, registered in the city of Szeged, stood for 128 years.

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