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In Budapest you can find wonders even underground

The KisföldalattiBudapestGreater Budapest

The Kisföldalatti (metro line M1) is a pride of the country, and like many things in the capital, it brings to mind the happy and peaceful times that came with the developments at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was the first metro line on the European continent and the second in the world, and has been in operation since 1896. 

People in Vienna were envious

Incredibly, it took only twenty-one months to build Budapest's first metro line. Interestingly, they did not drill a tunnel but simply dug up Andrássy út, which runs above the line, and then paved it over again after finishing the work. Originally, the stops were not only indicated by a sign on the surface and a staircase leading underground but decorative halls were built and the stations were covered with fancy Zsolnay tiles. The Kisföldalatti was built because the area was too busy with vehicles, including trams and horse-drawn omnibuses, so it became necessary to introduce another means of public transport. But it was also made because the 1896 millennium celebrations, held to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary's foundation, were approaching. 

Challenging work

Mór Balázs, general manager of the Budapest Electric City Railway, had the idea of an underground railway in Pest based on his experiences in London, and he eventually received permission. Back then, separate compartments were planned for men who smoked and for women. Unusual challenges were faced during the design: the tunnel is extremely small, so a conventional sized subway or tram could not fit in. In 1896, a special, low-floor was used to ensure the proper size of the trains, but the driver could hardly stand upright in the driver's cabin. During the renovation in the 1970s it was not possible to increase the tunnel size due to the conditions on the Great Boulevard. 

A world heritage site

The Kisföldalatti – as people call it in Budapest – ran on the left-hand side for seventy years. It only switched to the right during the line extension in 1973, when the track that still operates today was completed from Vörösmarty tér to Mexikói út. The line also received new carriages, which are connected, although you can’t walk between them. Andrássy út and the Millennium Underground Railway, which was also renovated in 1987, has been a world heritage site since 2002.

The most lovable metro line

Budapest's first subway, a means of public transport considered a fast and comfortable "underground tram” at that time, started operation in 1896 as the first underground railway line in continental Europe. The Millennium Underground Railway line is shorter than the other subway and tram lines in the capital and its transfer connections are also poor, and plans for an extension have been in the works for a long time. The little yellow carriages, considered a world-class innovation when they were built, still hold a special place in the hearts of both residents and tourists in Budapest. 

And what about the other lines?

Budapest has three other metro lines. The M2 line (marked in red) runs between Déli pályaudvar and Örs vezér tere, and it was built in the 1950s and 1970s. The M3 line (marked in blue) runs between Kőbánya-Kispest and Újpest, its construction began in the 1970s and was completed in 1990. M4 (marked in green) is the newest metro line, which has been running between the Kelenföld railway station and the Keleti railway station since 2014. 


On average, the metro trains run every 2-3 minutes during peak periods, every 5 minutes during the day and at weekends, and every 10 minutes late at night.