Millennial Velodrome in Budapest: Feel Like Playing Bike Polo?

The Millennial Velodrome in Budapest is one of the oldest arena for track cycling in Europe: it was built in 1896 as part of the developments celebrating the 1000 year old Hungarian state. Little wonder, many of the famous buildings in Budapest were built in 1896, like the Millennial Velodrome, the Millennial Monument on Heroes’ Square, or the romantic Castle Vajdahunyad. Would you think that not so long ago, there were plans to demolish this fantastic facility? Luckily many bikers, architects and locals joined their forces and achieved a certain protection for the athletic national monument of the Budapest Velodrome.

These days, you will see bike polo players. Join them on Wed afternoons & Saturday mornings on the Millenáris Velodrome. It is fun and they are totally open to have foreign players. See this short video to get an idea:

In 1896 the first few sporting competitions included shot putting, javelin throwing, jumping, etc. The then gold-medalist weight-lifter (Horvath) lifted a 33 kg (!) weight in the air fifty-five times (sounds funny now, I know). And then, there was of course, cycling. The winners of the first Velodrome cycling race were the Belgian Emile Huet and Raymond Depage, plus the French Fournier. By the end of the year though, the later European champion Ferenc Gerger gathered the most medals in cycling. It was a novelty at that time that ladies also took part in the contest: yes, on tandems, and their partners on tandem were male competitors.

There were competitions for every weekend in 1896, the king was sitting in the Royal Pavilion, sportsmen were enjoying the modern facilities, spectators saw unknown sports: Velodrome meant a new chapter in the Hungarian sports life. The snag was that several millennial buildings were originally planned to be make-shift temporary structures with a short life: the Velodrome, for instance, was planned to get demolished and cleared away in Oct 31 in 1896, in the same year that it was constructed. All the sports clubs came together to lobby for the Velodrome, and many locals were against the makeshift Velodrome – then made of wood, meaning fire hazard to neighbouring houses. Locals also feared that homeless people would move into the wooden structures, etc. etc. The main point is that the clubs won the right to use the facilities for another 3 years. More and more football players came to the Velodrome arena, and in 1901 the Hungarian Football Association and the first National League was founded, played on the premises of the Millennial Velodrome. The athletics competition in the same year attracted 4000 athletes, and tickets could only be bought if one had multiple connections.

But back to cycling: in 1899 the city made the decision to make cyclists pay a pretty nice amount of annual tax. The result? Fewer cyclists. The taxation was canceled in 1911, and by that time football became by far the most popular sport, pushing behind the budding cycling in Hungary. From 1905, Wiegand started to organize cycling races as a sort of gambling. In 1902, the first few steher motorcycles arrived (soon banned due to locals’ complaints about the noise). In 1906 Woody Headspeth won the cycling race, which was sensational and disheartening at the same time. But even such sensations did not reach the profit of football matches.

In 1915 – when the Millennial Velodrome or Sports Center has become too small for professional football (although earlier hosting Southampton, Tottenham, Woolwich and Celtic – the arena got taken over by the capital again and gave place to thousands of schoolchildren as a regular sports facility. After WWI, the Velodrome was totally renewed, new structures, new lawn, and a fabulous new cycling track based on the Dresdan Velodrome. The Cycling track was now built from reinforced iron.

In 1925 the modern Velodrome was ready to attract thousands of spectators: 450 metre (0.27 miles) , 12–42° leaning, over 100 kmh (62 mph). Further rebuildings were carried out by Alfred Hajos & Aladar Mattyok sports architects. Cycling became fashionable again in the 20’s in Hungary. And at last, Cycling World Race, 1929: Budapest (after some tug of war with the Dutch). In the 30’s one name jumps out: Laszlo Orczan. Swimming and football also came back to the Millennial Centre. But WW2 meant first less and less rubber & then bombardments. During the war the arena turned into a supply centre, the changing rooms were haunted by cyclists who did not want to go to war or deserted the army. The Millie (nickname of the Millennial Velodrome) was heavily damaged in the WW2, but enthusiasm brought the Sports Centre back to life by May 1945! At least, there was a race already.

The 1950’s reconstruction changed the parameters of the cycling racing track. the length is now 412 metre (0.25 mile), which is not in line with the international standards, so world races gradually disappeared from the site (also for political reasons & the iron curtain). The 1970’s had several track races called Golden Mocca (Arany Mokka), but then the new media, TV primarily, meant the end of sports life in a sense. However, the last couple of years show a new revival. If you like bike polo, join the guys on the track!

See the green bike icon in the middle for the Budapest Velodrome. Look for the green bike signs on the map for further bikers’ tips in Budapest, e.g. Bike Rentals.


View Larger Map

sources: Zeidler Miklós: Egy régi pálya a polgári korban: a Millenáris Sporttelep, Velodrom.hu wiki

Millennial Monument (Millenniumi emlékmű) in Budapest

Heroes Square is one of the most visited squares in Budapest packed with some of the most beautiful Budapest attractions to see, and some fun things to do (lake / skating rink, cycling tour, Segway tours, etc.).

Millennial Monument (Millenniumi emlékmű) on Hosok tere, Budapest: the monument, also known as the Millennium Monument, was built for the 1000th birthday of Hungary. Andrassy Avenue seems to culminate in the beautiful memorial. It consists of a 35m/ 118 ft column (with Archangel Gabriel on top), and two wings with statues of Hungarian politicians & military men – you guessed: the Heroes of Hungary (children love the big horse statues).

While the domineering central piece of the square is the Millennial Monument, the two museums, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art (Mucsarnok), which flank the the square, are enhancing the grandeur of this fin-de-siecle complex. If you have a Budapest Card you can get a free entry to the Museum of Fine Arts, 20% off the entry fee in the Kunsthalle (Hall of Arts). You can also visit the Vajdahunyad Castle and Szechenyi Baths if you are on Heroes’ Square.

Note: Hosok tere is also the favorite hangout place for acrobatic bikers, line skaters, etc.

Address: Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) Budapest
Opening hours: 24/7
Prices: free
Getting here: the underground (old metro, yellow line) has a station called ‘Hősök tere’ but you can also take buses (e.g. number 30), or trolley buses (e.g. number 79)

See its location of the Hungarian Millennium Monument on the Budapest Tourist Map (the yellow balloon icon in the middle). Click the View larger map blue link under the map to enlarge the map-view.


View Larger Map

Budapest Tourist Map: Interactive, User-friendly, Fresh

The Budapest Tourist Map is a user-friendly map.

Strengths:

1, different map icons indicate the various attractions (spa baths, the Castle, the Central Market Hall, the Children’s Railway), the best cafes in Budapest (coffee cup icons), museums, etc., where you can rent a bike in Budapest (green bike icons), where you can take your kids (yellow sun icons) and have a good family program.
2, you can easily zoom in (double click on the map or use the controller in the upper left corner of the map) or zoom out
3, You can get further info on each location by clicking on the symbol (usually, address, phone number, opening hours, prices, oftentimes photos, etc.)
4, you can check the distance between two attractions you plan to visit (right click on the map to define the From and To places)
5, you can comment on the map and vent your criticism, add further ideas – update the map. You can also rate the map – I truly appreciate your feedback. For this, click on the ‘view larger map’ under the map and see ‘comments/ rating’ in the left column. Thanks!
6, several visitors are staying at 5-star hotels in Budapest: yellow houses indicate all the luxury hotels, so you can easily spot which locations are closest to you.


View Larger Map

Google map application has been used to build this map – which is far from finished, so please help me update it with things you have found useful, funny, etc.

Further maps you may find useful are:

Budapest Shopping Map – designers’ shops, art galleries, porcelain, wine shops, market halls, shopping malls, what have you.

Budapest Bars, Pubs, Clubs, Party Places – which pub or bar is the most ideal for you to have a good beer or wine and chat, or the get the vibration of night life.

Jewish Budapest Map – synagogues, cemeteries, kosher and non-kosher restaurants, confectioner’s, gift shops, schools and more.

Budapest Bike Rentals: Where Can You Rent a Bicycle?

OK, so you want to rent a bike in Budapest? Make your bike rental decision informed. Riding a bike in Budapest is fun and not fun: conditions are not so much acceptable presently, although Budapest could potentially offer one of the greatest urban cycling experiences ever. Once the bike culture will be even more improved (more careful drivers, a lot more biking routes)… and cycling in Budapest will be in the top ten things to do in Budapest!

Attitude towards biking in Budapest has changed a lot in the past few years, the Critical Mass movement has grown stronger than ever, and luckily, more and more Budapest pubs and bars offer bike parking facilities, especially the so called ruin pubs. So enjoy it, but don’t expect to have conditions like in Amsterdam. Here’s a pic from Budapest Critical Mass :)

Good to know:

  • Geography: Budapest has two parts. Buda is hilly and Pest is totally flat, easy to bike. In some places there are quite good bike routes along the river Danube, mostly on the Buda side
  • Public transport with bike: you cannot travel on the metro= underground with bike. On trains you must buy a ticket for your bike (nominal fee, but a must).
  • Biking routes: bike routes are oftentimes shared with pedestrians, who are not used to speeding bikers, please be careful.
  • Cars vs. Bikes: car drivers don’t really like bikers (euphemism), and unfortunately won’t typically yield to bikers or pedestrians – again, be careful.
  • Bike thieves: unlike in the Netherlands, for instance, you should NOT leave your bike unlocked – it will disappear in a moment. Lock it safely, lock it well.

There are some bike rental places in Budapest (some ask for a deposit). The ones that are conveniently located are the following:

Bike Base

BikeBase bicycle rental offers a wide range of bikes, from MTBs to city cruisers, plus you can also rent customized biking tours in Budapest.

  • Bikes: from mountain bikes through city cruisers to children’s bikes, something to suit all ages and styles.
  • Extras: (included in the price) helmet, locks, tour tips, map, if outside Budapest: panniers, repair tool kit
  • Address: Podmaniczky utca 19, 1065 Budapest
  • Phone: 00-36-70-625-85-01 or 00-36-1-269-59-83
  • Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm (earlier or later too, if arranged via phone)
  • Rental prices:

9 EUR (2 600 HUF) for 24h
16 EUR (4 600 HUF) for 48h
Special price for longterm rent. If you cannot pick up or return the bike to the shop, for a nominal fee, Bike Base will collect or deliver anywhere within Budapest city limits.

Budapest Bike

Besides renting bikes here, the guys at Budapest Bike also promise to take you to places you should not but might miss, to help with avoiding tourist traps while in Budapest, to point out where to go and what to see. You can also rent biking tours here for about 5000 HUF (dirt cheap in Budapest), or Pub Crawl bike tours (min 4 pubs, 4 hours) for 20 euros. Bikes can be rented for 3 or more days 2500HUF /day and you can hire tandem bikes too.

  • Bikes: Gepida Alboins (women’s & men’s)
  • Extras: (included in the price) helmet, chain, lock and limited insurance as stated in the rental contract.
  • Address: Wesselenyi u. 18. Budapest 1077
  • Phone: 00-36-30-944-5533
  • Rental Prices:

6 hours: 2000HUF
1 day: 3000HUF
2 day: 5000HUF
3 or more days 2500HUF/day

Budapest Tourist Map shows the different bike rental locations (check the green bicycle map icon)

View Larger Map

Bringo Hinto

BringoHinto rental offers bikes and bike carts or kids cars, etc. on Margitsziget (Margaret Island).

  • Bikes: mountain & city bikes, adult and kid bike carts
  • Address: Hajos Alfred setany 1., Budapest 1138
  • Phone: 00-36-329-2746

Free Riders bike rental, Budapest

Free Riders bicycle rental is close to Petofi Bridge, so you can take a ride to the Palace of Arts, to Rakoczi Bridge, etc. 

  • Bikes: not specified
  • Extras: helmet, lock, basket container, etc.
  • Address: Lonyay street 60. Budapest, District  IX. (close to Petofi Bridge on the Pest side)
  • Phone: 00-36-30 816 4192 or 00-36 30 816 4192
  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 14.00-18.00, closed at weekends
  • Prices:

1-5 h 300 HUF/ hour
24 h 3,000 HUF
24+ h 2,000 HUF
Deposit is HUF 10,000

Some useful Cycling words in Hungarian:

  • bike: bringa (brin-gah), bico (bits-oh), bicaj (bi-tsoi)
  • bicycle: kerekpar (care-ache-phaar)
  • wheel: kerek (care-ache)
  • pump: pumpa (poom-pah)
  • lock: lakat (lock-ot)
  • berel (bay-rel)

Please help me to update the info. Thanks.