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The hubbub of a market in the heart of Budapest: Great Market Hall

Great Market HallBudapestGreater Budapest

There are two kinds of travellers: those seeking the bustle of an urban environment, and those who are attracted by monuments and historical treasures in the unknown. An imposing building close to the banks of the Danube, the Great Market Hall is one of the few destinations that is enjoyable for both types of visitors. You’d be surprised how many surprises can be found in the biggest indoor market in Budapest. 

The Great Market Hall is an obligatory destination for tourists visiting the Hungarian capital, a fact that is also reflected in the goods on offer: perhaps no other market in Hungary sells such a great variety of souvenirs and Hungarikums. But the locals also like to visit, since the place is more than just a tourist hotspot, having also retained its original function: to this day, the market provides residents of the area with the widest selection of fresh farm produce. 

Let’s do some shopping!

Stepping through the grandiose gates, you will find yourself in a gigantic hall, where finding your way around is no easy task. Let us see what you can expect on each floor!

  • The basement houses shops selling special game and fish, and is also home to the best steak shop in Budapest. You can also find household appliance vendors and a supermarket here.
  • The ground floor is where the staple market products are sold: fruit, vegetables, meat and baked goods. Of course, the produce sold here also includes traditional Hungarian goods: the shelves are stacked with salami, paprika, garlic, pálinka, wine and honey.
  • The first floor – actually a gallery overlooking the entire hustle and bustle – is home to shops specialising mostly in goods for tourists: souvenir and gift shops. But the upstairs area is not only worth visiting for the souvenirs. This is also where you can find restaurants and sample the specialties of Hungarian cuisine, such as lángos, Hortobágy pancakes filled with meat, and stuffed cabbage, to name but a few. 

Witness a miracle

A unique Hungarian invention, the Gömböc, is also on display in the Market Hall. To learn more about this extraordinary mathematical breakthrough, go to its website, or visit the Market Hall, where you can admire it with your own eyes.

Finally, if you’ve had enough of the market, you can savour your freshly purchased merchandise on one of the benches in the square across from the hall. While doing so, be sure to admire the building from the outside as well, as it is not only the largest, but also perhaps the most beautiful market hall in Budapest, with an ancient history full of stories. 

Special in every detail

The first mayor of Budapest, Károly Kamermayer, took office in 1873 and immediately faced a problem: the previous infrastructure was less and less able to serve the rapidly growing population, meaning that over time, the commissioning of the new market hall became extremely urgent. The proximity of the Danube played an important role in the choice of location: it allowed for the regular delivery of goods by ship, or via the direct rail line that existed at the time.

The building was completed in 1897, according to the plans drawn up by Hungarian architect Samu Pecz. Fortunately, these urgent goals did not adversely impact construction, as the façade displays meticulous workmanship and a pattern of shaped bricks, forming a characteristic pair with the neo-Gothic stone gates. Yet its most special feature might be the roof: the colourful tiles are made of Zsolnay porcelain, also considered a Hungarikum. It is not by chance that the building was declared a monument in 1976, and is also regularly featured in lists presenting Europe’s most beautiful market halls. If you’re in Budapest, be sure to visit the Great Market Hall!