The Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Madison Avenue in New York City, the lively & colorful Harajuku district in Tokyo, Oxford street in London, the hidden alleyways of shops in Rome and Spain. All these places have one thing in common – shopping. While some may prefer buying things off the high street, many of us love the experience of exploring hidden alleys for undiscovered gems, visiting markets, taking a break and having coffee in picturesque squares. Europe is a shopper’s dream of shopping nirvana, with all the major fashion houses and brands, local designers’ creations in boutiques to antique furniture, books and food of every color and flavor that you can think of, life doesn’t get better than that.
The Great Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary is just one such nirvana. Known as ‘Nagycsarnok’ in Hungarian, the largest indoor market in Budapest can be found on Fővám Tér in the 9th district (the Pest side of the great Liberty Bridge). Designed and built by Samu Pecz around 1896, this three-story construction was thought of then as one of the world’s most modern market halls, with state of the art lighting and refrigeration. Unfortunately as with many prominent buildings all around Europe, the market was badly damaged during the second World War and had to be shut when it became unsafe.
Nearly half a century later, the market underwent painstaking restoration which saw The Great Market Hall become one of the most popular attraction in the Hungarian capital. A distinctive architectural feature that was restored was the roof, with its colorful Zsolnay tiling. The market offers a huge variety of stalls on its three floors and is easy to navigate with fresh produce, pastries, candies, and spirits such as paprika, tokaji, túró rudi, and caviar on the ground floor. The basement has game, fish and a supermarket and visitors can find the best of Hungarian arts and crafts alongside bars, cafes and food stalls on the first floor.
The market is closed on Sunday, opens at 6am on other days, and closes at 5pm Monday, 6pm Tue-Fri and 3pm Saturday.
How to get there: Although it’s quicker from the city center by metro (M3 Blue Line) to Kalvin Ter, the best way is to take a tram, to see the city as you go. Budapest has more than 30 trams — it’s a great way to travel. Take trams 2, 47 or 49 to the Liberty Bridge.