Budapest, capital of Hungary is a jewel from a touristic perspective. The architecture of the old city is beautiful and find its expression also in the Central Market Hall (Központi Vásárcsarnok), which was opened in 1897. Just the building in itself is worth visiting it, the steel construction inside is beautiful. And the market is very spacious, none of the alleys is narrow, there is enough space to stroll without being disturbed too much. Since the location is in the inner city close to the Danube river, I would have expected a rather cramped feeling as space might be expensive.
The main floor is occupied by fixed stands which have all a similar appearance. Many signs are in English or German, so that the many tourists have an easy orientation. And this market caters a lot for tourists, serving all the Hungarian cliches: Hungarian salami, paprika, goose liver and the sweet Tokay wine. And there are stands, especially in the mezzanine which have Budapest mugs, T-Shirts etc.
There are still many stands serving daily needs of vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese etc. Often these seasonal products are presented in a lush, appealing way, generating some craving. It is also very nice how garlic and dried paprika are celebrated by hanging them in large, neat bundles in front of the stands instead of advertisement panels.
When it comes to Hungarian salami or other sausages one may find mainly brands like Pick or Temesvari Hus. But there are still butchers who offer fresh unbranded meat. The goose liver is mainly available in branded tin boxes, maybe there is some fresh one somewhere in this market.
If your luggage is already to heavy, you may still try Hungarian Food in some of the food stands in the mezzanine.
I did not have a lot of time to visit the whole market hall. In the basement there is supposed to be e.g. fish and game which was not available on the ground floor. But the market hall left me puzzled: the architecture is gorgeous and would support the celebration of special, creative, unique products with character. But this is only available in a limited way. Will I visit the market another time? Sure, because there must be some special treasures still to be discovered.
All in all: A must visit from an architectural perspective, from a gourmet perspective less impressive. But it is great for a quick shopping on Hungarian souvenirs, culinary and non-culinary ones.
A little link list:
- Official site in English with the history of the hall
- Another site in English, unfortunately not updated
- A nice, descriptive article from “On the run“
- A post with many pictures from alwaystravelicious.com
- Photos on Flickr