Table of Contents
- Walk Inside The Great Market Hall
- Get Lost At The Panoptikum Labyrinth
- Discover The Secrets Of The Gellért Hill
- Take A Break And Relax At The Gellért Baths
- Taste The Amazing Hungarian Street Food
- Explore The St. Stephen’s Basilica
- Reflect By The Shoes At The Danube Bank
- Stroll Across The Liberty Bridge
- Gaze At The Hungarian Parliament Building
- Buy Some Hungarian Souvenirs
Walk Inside The Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall in Budapest was built in 1897 and is the most beautiful and largest of all Budapest market halls. It is also known as the Central Market not only given its central geographic location within the city, but also due to the sheer volume of trade happening there daily.
There is plenty to see in the three floors of this amazing market, such as little souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, meats, bags, clothing, etc. Apart from those, you can check out the top floor for delicious traditional Hungarian food.
Get Lost At The Panoptikum Labyrinth
It is said that the King Matthias Corvinus marched towards Wallachia to free Vlad Tepes (Dracula) from Turkish captivity. But for some unknown reason, the king who previously intended to save Vlad and even had married one of his family members to him, saw something so terrible that he dragged Vlad to Buda and imprisioned him inside his labyrinth for 10 years.
The labyrinth under the Buda Castle is open until today, now serving as a sort of Museum displaying statues of the monarchs of Hungary. But if you go deep enough, you will find long passages which are entirely without light, and the old prisions where Vlad Tepes was left to rot. Just take into consideration that getting lost here for a couple of hours might be an actual possibility.
Discover The Secrets Of The Gellért Hill
The Gellért Hill gets its name from the legend about the death of St. Gerard. The bishop was assassinated by pagans during a huge rebellion in 1046. He was put in a barrel and rolled down into the deep from the top of the hill, the poor fella.
During the 19th century, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Habsburgs built there a Citadella due to the stretegic position of the hill refferent to both Buda and Pest. The Hill would also see battle during World War II and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Nowadays, you can find there the famous mineral springs, a gorgeous crystal cave and the lovely church on the hillside.
Take A Break And Relax At The Gellért Baths
The Gellért Baths are located within an Art Noveau building which dates back a whole century. It opened in 1918 offering medicinal water treatments using the same deep underground springs that the Knights of St. John used in the 12th century to feel the invigorating powers of such mineral rich waters.
You can buy a one-time ticket for the baths, and there is no time limit to it, but if you leave the spa, you have to buy another ticket to return. In the same building you have a massage parlour where you can have a relaxing massage before leaving the place, to get you ready to explore more of the city.
Taste The Amazing Hungarian Street Food
Hungarians are specialists at meat dishes, and going to Budapest without trying some kolbász (a spicy sausage made with paprika) or hurka (blood pudding with rice) is definitely a nope.
You can find stands selling delicious traditional Hungarian small and fast dishes throughout the whole city, but my suggestion would be to get it inside the Great Market Hall, which will protect you from both the sun, rain or snow, depending on the season in which you visit the city.
Explore The St. Stephen’s Basilica
During the 18th century, the place where the Basilica now stands was occupied by the Hetz-Theater, where animal fights took place. That was until a wealthy inhabitant named János Zitterbarth decided to build a temporary church there.
What Mr. Zitterbarth did not expect was that the Lipótváros Parish, which formed in the church, would gather over a thousand believers until the beginning of the new century. There believers raised money for the building of a newer and bigger church in homage to St. Stephen, the King of Hungary who became a saint. You can still see his ‘incorruptible’ hand in the reliquary inside the Basilica.
Reflect By The Shoes At The Danube Bank
The horror of fascism is not limited to Germany and Italy. In 1945-45, a militia associated to the Fascist Party of Hungary (also known as Arrow Cross) kidnapped three thousand and five hundred enemies of the party from their homes and workplaces, asked them to remove their shoes before the Danube and shot them into the river, as for it their bodies to be carried away by the flow.
In 2005, film director Can Togay in association with sculptor Gjula Pauer, created a monument to their memory, displaying the shoes left behind by the victims. It serves also as a reminder of the dangers of extremist ideologies.
Stroll Across The Liberty Bridge
The districts of Buda and Pest are connected by many bridges, but few are as elegant as the Liberty Bridge. It is the shortest bridge in Budapest’s center. Initially built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century, the bridge features art nouveau design, mythological sculptures and the country’s coat of arms adorned on its side.
The bridge was inaugurated in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph; the last silver rivet on the Pest abutment was inserted into the iron structure by the Emperor himself, and the bridge was originally named after him.
Gaze At The Hungarian Parliament Building
Budapest was united from three cities in 1873, namely Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. Seven years later the Diet resolved to establish a new, representative parliament building, expressing the sovereignty of the nation. And then the Parliament Building was born. Construction from the winning plan was started in 1885, and the building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of the country in 1896.
About 100,000 people were involved in construction, during which 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms of gold were used. During the People’s Republic of Hungary a red star perched on the top of the dome, but it was removed in 1990 after the fall of communism. Mátyás Szűrös declared the Hungarian Republic from the balcony facing Kossuth Lajos Square on 23 October 1989.
Buy Some Hungarian Souvenirs
When it comes to souvenirs, Budapest is rich in embroideries and the patterns originating from it can be put in virtually anything, from dinner plates to bottle openers. But there is something else that I find really special here.
Chess is a big thing in Budapest, with boards installed even inside the mineral baths. The city has even a famous chess move named after it, the ‘Budapest Gambit’. For that reason, everywhere you look for souvenirs in the city, you will find richly adourned chess tables with hand-crafted pieces, inspired by the most different motifs: traditional Hungarian patterns, medieval knights, etc. Those can be quite expensive, but definitely worth the investment.