House of Terror Museum of Dictatorships in Budapest, Hungary

House of Terror (Terror Háza) shows the history, practices & tactics of dictatorships in Hungary. Shocking pictures, interior design and audio-visual effects that actually evoke those awful times – you won’t be left untouched. Some of the travelers called the exhibition ‘ingenious’ ‘must-see’ ‘moving’ while few called it ‘badly orchestrated’ ‘distasteful’ and seemed to have lacked more distance and simplicity in the way the ruthlessness was conveyed and re-presented.

As it is a shocking and controversial theme, have a look at the video at the bottom to decide if it’s suitable for your kids or not. On a subjective note, I wouldn’t recommend it for small children.

The exhibition of the abuse by Nazis, the Hungarian Arrow-Cross Party as well as Soviets is placed in the former headquarters of the Hungarian secret police on beautiful Andrassy avenue. See the Museum icon in the middle of the map below (yellow M icon for museums)
Address: Andrássy út 60., 1062 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-374-2600
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Prices: 1500 HUF, Student & retired 750 HUF, on Sundays free for students & under 18s.

See the House of Terror location in the middle of the Budapest Tourist Map below (yellow M icon for museums):


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Here are some of the disturbing visual effects of the exhibition (not for kids, please), where dead people are rolled by a machine (Gypsies, Jewish, etc.):

Some of the things that you can expect – based on a visitor’s review on TripAdvisor:

walking into a room where some strange trance music overlaid with extracts from Hitler’s speeches played as you watched some extremely distressing footage from when the Nazi and Soviet regimes were in power, it seemed the sort of music only suitable for a Neo-Nazi underground meeting.

there is a room with a dummy sitting at the head of an empty dining table dressed in full military uniform with a face projected on to it… it was creepy and totally unnecessary. Then the room where a black car which was used by the AVH is illuminated from behind black curtains and the lift which played the video clip of a man describing in detail the execution of one of the prisoners. And all this combined with hearing the laughter of people from the café downstairs…

If you are specifically interested in other communist historical traces in Budapest, check out the red flame map icons.

Budapest Chairlift: Libego on Janoshegy

The Chairlift in Budapest is on János hill (Jánoshegy) in a beautiful green part of the hilly Buda side of Budapest. Although the Chair Lift is run by the Budapest Public Transportation company, Budapest travel passes and tourist cards known as Budapest cards, do not include a free ride on the Chairlift.

Budapest Chairlift

Budapest Chairlift

Opening hours: weekends and fair weather 10 am – 4pm
Prices: 500 HUF for adults, 200 HUF for kids, 400 HUF for students and retired people. Return tickets are double.
Address: Zugligeti út 97, Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-394-37-64
Note: Groups need to book in advance.

The location of the Chairlift is indicated in the middle with a blue (sorry) ‘helicopter’ icon on the Budapest Tourist Map, you can see the Children’s Railway (Gyermekvasut), the Lookout Tower and the Langos vendor close by. All highly recommended for a relaxed family-friendly or inspirational romantic program.


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Here’s a nice video on the Chairlift on Janos Hill (the second major part of the video is about the neighboring lookout tower, Erzsebet kilato from 1910). Watch out for the retro panpipe music characterizing the 1980s:

 

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.


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

The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

The Parliament in Budapest (the Hungarian Parliament) is a wonderful building completed in 1902 in eclectic style. Visits need to be booked in advance. Parliament tours are daily, but the Parliament (Orszaghaz in Hungarian) tours may be cancelled if someone important is visiting the political leaders. Regular starting hours of the guided tours. 10 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2pm, 6pm

Budapest Parliament Hungary

Budapest Parliament (photo: Christine McIntosh)

You can book your Budapest Parliament tour here. Unfortunately the tickets to the Hungarian Parliament building are not free for EU citizens from 2013.

Address: 1055 Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3., Hungary
Phone: 00-36-1-441-4904 or 00-36-1-441-4415
Getting here:
Budapest metro (red line), station: Kossuth Lajos tér
trams/ streetcars: number 2

Crossing from Pest to Buda: Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd)

Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of the several nice bridges connecting the two parts of Budapest: the hilly Buda side and the flat Pest side. It was built in 1849 as the very first permanent bridge spanning the River Danube (the river ‘Duna’ has an average width of approx. 400 meters / 1,325 feet). In fact, when the Chainbridge was built, Budapest has not existed yet: the major city parts (Buda, old Buda aka Óbuda and Pest) were united more than 20 years later in 1873 partly due to the first bridge as a pre-condition.

“The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, after Count István Széchenyi’s initiative in the same year, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark (no relation). It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark’s earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England. ” (wikipedia)

The Chain Bridge was blown up by the Nazis in WW2, so it was rebuilt in 1949.

Walk over the bridge, which connects Roosevelt square (Four Seasons Gresham Palace, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Sofitel Hotel Budapest) with Adam Clark square (Funicular Railway, Tunnel, Zero Kilometer Stone statue), and is part of the Unesco world heritage (with the Royal Palace, the Parliament, etc.).

Here’s a video made on the Chain Bridge (by hcjfisch) to give you some idea of the dimensions:

See the attractions close to the bridge on the Budapest Tourist Map (click on the icons to learn more about them, or follow the View Larger Map blue link under the map to enlarge it)


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Anecdotes:

  • Check if the lions guarding the ends of the bridge have tongues. Find out what’s the truth in this common Hungarian insider’s joke.
  • Do you think that the Chainbridge could be rolled into the Tunnel? When the weather is bad, the bridge needs to be protected, so there was a tunnel needed under the Castle Hill. Could it be?

Note

  • You can easily cross the bridge on foot (on bike too, although there’s no designated bike route so you’ll have to carefully meander through the pedestrians). It takes about 5-15 minutes to cross the bridge (3 min in a hurry, 15 min with taking photos, and a deep breath, 1h – proposal to girlfriends considerably expands time)
  • If you don’t want to walk, take the bus (number 16 and 105).
  • In the past few years, the Chain Bridge was closed down for cars and turned into a cultural program venue at weekends in summers (about June 23- Aug 12). Concerts, theater performances, buffets pop up. Buses usually cross on Elisabeth or Margaret bridge at this time.
  • Unfortunately, there’s a lot of graffiti on the bridge – but it’s still a landmark.

Here’s a video on the summer cultural festival on Chain Bridge (Lanchid):

Why the bridge is called Széchenyi is because this noble man, Count István Széchenyi was one of those few politicians and thinkers in the 19th century who wanted to make things better in Hungary and did accordingly so. Not only did he urge the construction of the bridge between the two sides of the river Danube, but he also gave away the full annual income of his estates for the establishment of the Hungarian Academy of Science, organized the first national Casino (nay, not primarily for gambling but in order to organize the reform-minded nobility – to encourage networking and thinking), he imported horse breeds to improve the Hungarian horse culture, etc. He is called ‘the greatest Hungarian’ although he was a Hungarian who could hardly speak the Hungarian language, and who was born and who died outside Hungary – but his family was an old Hungarian aristocratic dynasty and, most importantly, he considered himself a Magyar.

St Stephen’s Basilica: Szent István-bazilika in Budapest

St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István-bazilika) was built between 1850 and 1905 in neoclassical style based on the plans of József Hild, who could not see the complete church as he died in 1867. Miklós Ybl took over overseeing the works, who could not see the completion either, as he died in 1891. Eventually it was finished by József Kauser: the keystone of the basilica, indicating the completion of the long works, was put on in the presence of Franz Joseph I. the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1905.

The church is truly huge: it can take up approx. 8500 people, as it’s as big under the ground as over it.

The Basilica’s dome is like a compass in Budapest – you can easily locate yourself in the city if you spot the dome. In 1868 the dome collapsed – partly due to the low quality pillars given as presents to the church. Then the works were stalled for about 3 years. It explains why the construction of the church took more than half a century. There’s an elevator, which will take you up to the top (about 96m/ 315 feet high), where you can take some nice photos of the city. Or you can make a thorough workout by climbing the 364 stairs that lead to the balcony.

Highlights: statues made by Alajos Stróbl (see the floor plan below), ‘St Stephen offers the crown to Virgin Mary’ – painting by Gyula Benczúr, the panoramic view from the top, the Treasury and the Reliquary (incl. the mummified right fist of St Stephen (considered a holy relic), the first king of Hungary), the heaviest bell in Hungary in the southern tower (9,600 kilogram/ 21,164 pounds), the organ made by József Angster (1834- 1918). The Choir of the Basilica (founded in 1909) sings every Sunday at 10 am: here’s the Program of the Basilica Choir.

Address: Szent István tér Budapest V. ker.
Phone: 00-36-1-311-0839 or 338-2151
Opening hours:

  • Mon-Fri 9 am – 5 pm, and 7-8 pm,
  • Sat 9 am – 1 pm, and 7-8 pm,
  • Sun 1 -5 pm, and 7-8 pm
  • Elevator operating from April 1 to October 31

Prices: 1600 HUF, for students & retired 1200HUF
Getting here:
metro (blue line): Arany János utca station

Here’s the (Greek-cross) floorplan of the Basilica with some of the prominent statues made by Hungarian sculptors, painters:

floor plan and some statues in St Stephen Basilica Szent István Bazilika

Video of St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest (made by a fellow traveler, adelsonline)

And another user made video (garrymay) of the Basilica, with a short sample of the Choir singing:

1, If you want to see the Treasury, the Reliquary, the Chapel, and get further info on the Basilica, turn to the official guides (Mon-Fri at 11am, 2pm, 15:30, St at 11am), 2000HUF/ person. Book in advance, and for groups get reductions, contact: turizmus@basilica.hu.

If you are looking for further programs or a good restaurant in the neighborhood of the Basilica (map icon: red balloon in the middle), take a look at the Budapest Tourist Map: double click to zoom in, and click on the icons to learn more about the attractions:


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If you wish to do some shopping, e.g. find specialty products (wines, paprika, Unicum, designer clothes, etc.) in the neighborhood, use the Budapest Shopping Map:

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Budapest en Español: the Spanish Guide to Budapest – Part 1 & 2

Here’s Javier Martin from Planeta Infinito, desculpe, Planeta Finito presenting Budapest in Spanish. It’s really funny and informative. For those who want to practice their Spanish before coming to Hungary – even though it sounds a bit confused, the program is highly recommended. (I hope the videos won’t be taken down)

As Wikipedia writes:

Planeta Finito es un programa televisivo de viajes en el que un personaje famoso recorre un destino turístico del mundo para mostrar su historia y peculiaridades. Su formato se basa en el conocido programa de viajes Lonely Planet, donde los presentadores iban a diferentes partes del planeta. Está producido por Globomedia y se emite los sábados sobre las 19:00 horas en LaSexta.

And the videos in several parts

Part 1: Planeta Finito: Budapest (public transport, Buda Castle, Labyrinth)

Part 2: Planeta Finito: Budapest (Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Cafe Ruszwurm, Restaurant Gundel, Children’s Railway, St Gellért Statue, Gellért Spa Bath, Four Seasons Gresham Palace)

Budapest Children’s Railway: A Cheerful Blink From The Pioneer Past

Budapest Children’s Railway is not only an ideal program for those who come to Budapest with little kids, or who simply fell in love in (and with) Budapest and want to see the gentle green forest, the panorama, the old nostalgia trains, and to spend a nice sunny day away from the hustle and bustle. It is also a great historical tour: going through 50 years of the pioneer history in the adjoining Children’ Railway Museum.

Budapest Childrens Railway at Normafa stop in summer

Opening hours:
May-August every day from 9am to 7pm
September-April: (except for Mondays) every day. from 9am to 5pm
Phone: 00-36-1-397 5392
Prices:

  • Adults: one-way ticket for a few stops 450 HUF, full line ticket 600 HUF (return 1200 HUF)
  • Children (6-14): one-way ticket for a few stops 250 HUF, full line ticket 300 HUF (return 600 HUF). Kids under 6 travel free. Budapest card enables you & a kid to buy full line tickets at the price of a ticket for a few stops.
  • Pets (with lead and muzzle): 100 HUF
  • Family daily ticket: HUF 3000

Pioneer working at Budapest Childrens Railway

Getting here: the Children’s Railway is in the Buda hills (the hilly Buda side of Budapest), so don’t expect a central location. It’s about 35-50 minutes by public transportation from the city center. First go to Moszkva tér (red line metro), take a tram (choose either from 18, 56 or 59 – people speak English, so ask them where the stop is) and get off at the 2nd stop called Fogaskereku Vasut (Cogwheel Railway). Hop on the Cogwheel Railway and lean back until the terminal. You are at Szechenyi-hegy (Szechenyi hill), walk a few steps, and you are at one end of the Children’s Railway line. You can take a return tour if you are only here for the railroad ride.

But if you want to walk or get to know another part of Budapest, buy only a one-way ticket, get off at the terminal called Hűvösvölgy (‘Cool Valley’) and take the trams (again, choose either from 18 or 56) for about 13 stop to get back to Moszkva tér. Or get off at János hegy, check out the highest point of the Buda hills at the lookout tower called Erzsébet kilátó, and then take the Chairlift downwards. Number 158 bus takes you back to Moszkva tér again.

I would recommend another third way to get to the Children’s Railway from Moszkva tér though, which won’t take you to the terminal, but to the 1st stop called Normafa. Take buses 21 or 90 (about 16 stops or 20 minutes), get off at Normafa, try the freshly made strudel with mulled wine at the strudel vendor, or the goulash in the ski house (both great and highly popular in winter), or some more exquisite courses at the Normafa Cafe and Grill, which has a lovely, family-friendly summer terrace (open from 12 to 24). At Normafa stop, don’t expect a building for the Children’s Railway, it is a stop, wait, get on, and get your ticket from one of the children railway guys.

Location of Children’s Railway (map icon: blue train) on the Budapest Tourist Map. If you are specifically interested in other ex-communist traces in Hungary, check out the red flames icons for more tips.


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FAQ of Budapest Children’s Railway
Is it true that the trains are operated by kids?
Yes, it is. Children aged 10 to 14 years of age control the traffic, operate railroad switches & signals, sell and validate tickets, etc. under the supervision of adults (many times former kid employees of the Children’s Railway). The train/ engine itself is driven by an experienced adult. However, the railway is not a children’s toy train – all services and operations are in line with the regulations of any other railway line of the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV).
How long is the ride?
Length: 11 km/ 6.8 miles. Duration: about 40 minutes (full length from Szechenyi hegy to Huvosvolgy)
Is there any good Budapest panoramic view?
Sure, just by getting on top of the hill, you’ll surely have some nice photos of the beautiful view. Plus, on the train, you can get an exceptionally good glimpse of Budapest from a height of 323 meter/ 0.2 miles between Szepjuhaszne and Harshegy stops. Further places: Szechenyi Memorial Lookout, Erzsébet Lookout (527 m/ 0.3 miles).
Are there any special programs at the Children’s Railway?
Yes, there are. Quite a lot of them, from spring to fall. March 15 sees hundreds of people participating in a 6-hour tour from the foot to the top of the hill: the route touches upon the major spots of the Children’s Railway and some other memorable places in the neighborhood. The tour is about 6 km in length, starting from Széchenyi hegy leading to Hűvösvölgy. Join the tour for a nominal fee, get your map and off you go. Spots are to be ticked off in order and you can expect warm lunch at the end of the tour (included in the price). :) April 12: the day of the Children’s Railway. May 25 is Children’s Day celebrated at the Children’s Railway. June 14 Graduation ceremony for new children’s rail staff, June 23 Museum Night, July 31- Aug 03 (in 2008): 60 year old birthday of the Children’s Railway, Aug 20: the firework tour on August 20 (a Hungarian national public holiday, the celebration of bread, the Hungarian state and the first king), Aug 24 Farewell party of young children’s railway professionals, Sept 13 Nostalgia Day.

Check out this great video on Budapest Children’s Railway (yes, kids still salute the train and travelers):

History of Budapest Children’s Railway

The idea of the Children’s Railway in Budapest came only two years after the end of WW2, in 1947, and in a year (strictly in line with the expectations of the government) in 1948 the first 3 km of the railway was completed, the first couple of boys and girls aged 12-14 took part in a six-week course and started to operate the Children’s Railway (in the beginning it was called either children’s or pioneer railway). Mind you, some people were quite unhappy about the Children’s railway. There were opponents: those who doubted that kids could possibly run such a serious institution, and those who wanted to allocate resources to re-build the country elsewhere.

The Children’s Railway was modeled after the pioneer railways in the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. The aim was not simply a railway for and by kids, but the establishment of a tightly-knit children’s community. Needless to say, the plot for the Children’s Railway (as well as the neighboring pioneer mega-camp, also called Pioneer Republic in Csillebérc, Budapest, also build at that time) was a free gift from the Budapest municipality. By 1949, the second, more challenging part of the Children’s Railway was given over. There was special attention paid to the design: panoramic view and a tunnel were default, so they added a fancy tunnel of 198 m length to make the railway trip more interesting. The first elevator in Hungary was also built here, for the Children’s Railway. In 1956, during the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet dictatorship and occupation, the railway stopped working: but people saw the railway more for kids and families than as the emblem of autocracy, so there was no damaged caused. As the communist regime forgot to notify the Pioneer Railway management that the railway services should be resumed, the director sat down with the kids and decided to resume normal services at their own responsibility. Strangely enough, nobody made a big fuss about it. From the 1950s to the 1970s about 6-700,000 people used it per year (these days it’s about 300,000). It was extremely popular and it was a great pride to be a pioneer railway girl/boy.

After the change of regime in 1989, the Children’s Railway way reconstructed, and modernized. The communist red star emblems disappeared from the trains, the red scarves of the pioneers were replaced with blue ones, and the Children’s Railway pioneers stopped greeting each other with the traditional pioneer greeting ‘Előre’ (which means approx. “Forward!”). Instead, they just used the normal Hungarian greetings in accordance with the daily hours. Another big change was making the Pioneer Railway Museum public (earlier it was restricted to special guests).

Photos and info from the official Children’s Railway site.

Karsten Troyke: Budapescht Yiddish Song With Lyrics

Music, love and Budapest folded in a nice Yiddish tune performed by Karsten Troyke. Here is the lyrics and the video under the lyrics. As one user on YouTube remarked “There is whole line in Polish language sung : “Ja cię kocham a ty śpisz !” /I love you and you fall asleep !/.” Now, the truth is, as the girl was from Poland, there are no Hungarian lines in the song. :)
The short synopsis is: “I lost my heart in Budapest. There I fell in love with a girl from Lodz, but she just laughed at me.” Summary and lyrics from haGalil.

Budapescht Lyrics:

Ich bin a Bucher jîng în frailech, ich fil sech gît,
es bengt sech mir nuch Libe,
es bengt sech mir nuch Glik.
Ich vill gain in alle Gassn în vill schrain: Gewalt!
A Maidale git mir bald!

Wail ich bin a Bucher jîng în frisch,
´ch gai sech ous mamesz far a Kîsch,
tref iech mir a Lodze Ponienka,
sie red poilisch în ich mîss stenkn:
Ja sze kocham a ty ´spysz!

Schpiel, Zigainer of dain Fidl,
schpiel mir up a Liebesliedl,
wail ich hob gelosst main Harts in Budapescht
in die Nacht ven die Levune hot geschaint.

Ich hob gevolt mit ihr bouen a Nest
în sie hot fîn mir sech ousgelacht
Ich hob gemaint, sie liebt mech ainem!
Sie libt nor mech în mehr nischt kainem!
Ich hob gemaint, ich kon fartrouen –
falsch is sie vie alle Frouen.

Bai die Rogatke `ch hob sie gelosst schtain!

Ich bin ein Bursche, jung und fröhlich,
ich fühl mich gut
Habe Lust auf Liebe, sehne mich nach Glück
Ich will durch alle Straßen gehen und
Schreien: Leute hört her
ein Mädchen gebt mir bald.

Weil ich doch ein junger Bursche bin
Sehne ich mich so nach einem Kuß
Treff ich ein Mädchen aus Lodz
Sie spricht polnisch und ich muß stönen
Ich liebe dich, aber du …

Spiel, Zigeuner, deine Fiedel
Spiel mit mir ein Liebeslied:
Ich hab mein Herz in Budapest verlorn
In der Nacht, im Mondschein
Wollte mit ihr ein Nest bauen,
doch sie hat mich ausgelacht
Ich dachte, sie würde mich lieben
Nur mich und keinen Andern
Ich dachte, ich könnte ihr vertrauen,
falsch ist sie wie alle Frauen!
An der Ecke ließ ich sie stehn.


Sara Bialas-Tenenberg preserved several forgotten Yiddish songs, both in her memories and a little song book. As Karsten Troyke writes

“Budapescht” for example or the little “Gassn Singer” which she [Sara] found in a 10 groszy (approximately a cent) song book. Those 10 groszys were like a pocket full of money for a little girl, and at that time a Yiddish hit in Poland was as exciting as a hit from the Backstreet Boys is today.”

If you liked the song, listen to the album of Jidische Vergessene Lieder (Forgotten Yiddish Songs)

If you are interested in Jewish-related places in Budapest (e.g. synagogues, memorials, mikveh, kosher restaurants or stores, and the fascinating Jewish District) here’s a unique map:


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Gellért Spa Bath in Budapest: Merry Healing in Art Deco Environment

Gellert Bath in Budapest/ Gellért Fürdő (say: Gal-ay-rt Fur-dur ) is one of the most frequented spa baths in Budapest by locals and tourists alike. Gellert Spa Bath is located in Hotel Gellert (Danubius Hotel Gellert), but the thermal spa bath is open for the general public (there is a separate entrance for non-hotel guests). Both the hotel and the spa bath are in a fascinating Art Nouveau – Art Deco building (including Hungarian folk art motifs, phenomenal colorful lead glasses and painted eosin mosaics).

The quality of the thermal water is superb (already in use in the 15th century!). In addition, Gellert Furdo has 13 baths including a wave bath and a children’s pool, so it is not only recreational but it’s fun. Needless to say, there are pampering massages, treatments, drinking cures, etc. Gellert Spa Bath – as part of Hotel Gellert Budapest was built in 1918. There are 13 baths 20-38 °C (68-100 degrees Fahrenheit).

See the Frequently Asked Questions about Gellert Bath and the Video at the bottom!

Gellert Spa Bath Budapest Hungary Gellert Furdo montage

The thermal water is recommended for:
damaged joints (e.g. worn hip and knee joints), degenerative diseases, arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis or Bechterew’s disease, low back pain or lumbago, after accidents as a post therapy.
Address: Kelenhegyi út 4, Budapest, H-1118, check its location on the Budapest Tourist map (blue waves indicate major spa baths)
Location: Gellert Spa Bath is on the Buda side, almost at the foot of Liberty Bridge Budapest (Szabadsághíd), next to Gellert Hill, which is a great green area with the Statue of Liberty and a superb panoramic view of the Pest side of Budapest with the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Basilica, Gresham Palace, etc.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 6am to 8pm
Phone: 00-36-1-466-6166
Getting there: Trams/ Streetcars: 18,19, 47, 49, Buses: 7 (green normal, not the red express!), 86
Prices: general admission with cabin HUF 5,300. There are all kinds of massages available, which can be booked online in advance for your convenience.

More  in depth info about Budapest Baths


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Miscellaneous: Saint Gellert (also known as St Gerard) was a Hungarian bishop who came from Italy to spread Christianity and educate the son of the first Hungarian king, St Stephen in the 11th century. Pagans threw him off the Gellert Hill. Unfortunately, Gellert Furdo is slightly worn down and will need some reconstruction to get back its truly five-star beauty.

Gellert Furdo FAQ

Are the baths inside or outside?
Baths are both outside and inside.
Is Gellert Spa Bath closed in winter?
No, it is open all year, on weekdays from 6am to 7pm, and at weekends from 6am to 5pm (except for some public holidays).
When is it the best time to go to Gellért Fürdő?
Well, that’s a good question. Although Gellert Furdo has 13 baths, weekends tend to be crowded, so it is worth going there a bit earlier.
Do you need anything else than yourself, a swim gear and money?
A towel, flip-flops or rubber shoes (for general hygienic and preventive reasons too), and water-resistant purse for the buffet or for massages & treatments will come in handy (although you can hire some of them for a nominal price). If you want to swim laps in the pool, besides using the thermal baths, you will need a swim cap too.
Can you book massages in advance?
No, unfortunately, massages cannot be pre-arranged. Gellert Spa Bath is operated on a first come first served basis.
Is Gellert Furdo good for children?
Yes, Gellért Spa Bath is a family-friendly place. For instance, there is an outside bath whose thermal water starts to wave periodically: its gradient depth ranges from 0.4m/1.30 feet to 2.75m/ 9 feet) . Then there’s a separate children’s spa bath (30 degrees Celsius/ 86 degrees Fahrenheit and 0.4 m/ 1.31 feet deep). Nevertheless, the spa bath is still a calm thermal bath and not a water amusement park (no big and complex slides, spring boards, etc.).
Shall I go to Gellért or Széchenyi Spa Bath?
Ideally, you should try both baths to discover which suits better your tastes. Both are located in a beautiful building (Szechenyi is neo-baroque, Gellert is fabulous art-deco). Both have world-renowned healing properties and good massages. Gellert Spa Bath might be a bit more touristy as it’s located in Hotel Gellert, while Szechenyi Furdo is an individual spa bath (note: contracted with several Budapest hotels). In addition, Szechenyi Spa Bath is slightly less expensive than Gellert Spa Bath (e.g. admission with cabin: 2,800 HUF vs. 3,100 HUF). Gellert might be a better choice for families with kids though, but several travelers suggest Szechenyi for children. Good question. Let me know what you found out: add your comments, please.

Do you know of the best Spa Hotels in Budapest?

We think that Hotel Gellert is really great, but may seem a bit outdated, if you want something high-end, upscale, and are willing to splurge. Here is a good list of the best Budapest spa hotels, and if you ask us, we recommend Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
How do you get from Keleti railway station to Gellért Spa Bath?
The easiest and quickest way is to take the red line Metro at Keleti pu. until Astoria. At Astoria, get off and take the green number 7 bus, which will take you over the Elisabeth Bridge to the Buda side. About 3 stops. See the Gellert Hill and the nice Hotel? There you are!

Watch Gellert Spa Bath Budapest on this video made with Michael Palin (comedian, writer, Monty Python member, as well as maker and presenter of several BBC travel documentaries). Hey, one of my favorite comedians!

Vásárcsarnok in Budapest: Central Market Hall

Vásárcsarnok (Central Market Hall) in Budapest offers a great rustic market experience in a beautiful building: you can buy several Hungaricums, as well as organic vegetables, home-made andouille sausages, salamis, pastries, etc. Great place for buying gifts, souvenirs (e.g. Szeged or Kalocsa paprika, embroidered tablecloths, blouses, Hungarian spirits like Zwack Unicum, cans of goose liver, various Russian dolls, etc.). As you can see all sorts of people here Vásárcsarnok (say: vaash-are-char-knock) is also a great place for people-watching! Here’s a photo of Budapest Vasarcsarnok on a less busy day:

Vasarcsarnok Budapest Central Market Hall on a less busy day

What is worth trying?
Tastes differ, but for a gastronomical tour you may wish to try the following foods, dishes, drinks:

  • Lángos (say laan-gosh) is a sort of salty fried dough, usually served with sour cream and grated cheese (Tip: put some garlic dip on top of the lángos, under the sour cream & cheese toppings, to make it even tastier). Don’t look at the calories, enjoy the little vice of your taste buds! :) Lángos is a great favorite of Hungarians especially in summer between two dips in the water on beaches and lidos (e.g. at Lake Balaton, on Csillaghegyi Strand, etc.)
  • Goulash soup: forget the canned versions of goulash and try the real Hungarian goulash for authenticity. It is filling and great with some spicy paprika.
  • Organic fruits: try some organic fruits produced in Hungary. I suggest the wide variety of apples, pears, apricots, peaches, plums. Yummy. They might not be huge & pleasing to the eye, but they are not watery, they are really full of flavor.

Opening hours: Mon: 6.00 am – 5.00 pm, Tue-Fri: 6.00 am – 6.00 pm, Sat: 6.00 am – 3.00 pm, Sun: closed
Address: Vámház körút 3, Budapest Hungary
Phone: 00-36-1-366-3300
Getting here:

  • Trams/ streetcars: number 2, 47 or 49
  • Metro: blue line, get off at Kálvin tér stop and walk towards the River Danube for about 5 min.

Vásárcsarnok, Central Market Hall on the Budapest Tourist Map (see the yellow basket in the middle):


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Video of Budapest Central Market Hall
Here’s the video made for budapestinfo.hu:

If you are absolutely in the shopping mood in Budapest, here’s a great map for Budapest Shopping,, nothing else but shopping: ranging from wine shops through designer jewelry or hats to fake 18th century umbrellas on the Ecseri flea market. The different types of shops and stores are color and symbol coded, which hopefully will save you time, money & headache. For example, click on the symbol of a Cocktail Glass for wines, spirits, palinka etc.


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History of Vásárcsarnok Budapest

The idea of establishing a central market hall came in the 1860s. In fact, the idea was not simply to have a well organized venue for selling foods and farm produces, but also to improve the quality of products by ensuring quality assurance standards in the new market. The newly formed Food Committee put together a proposal in 1883 to establish market halls. They chose the present venue of the Central Market Hall in Fővám Square, on the site of the Salt depot. The location was very logical as it could be easily accessed from the River Danube, by rail, by wagons, or on foot. As the plot was the property of the state treasury, “the royal government relinquished the plot for the sake of the capital”, according to the history of Vásárcsarnok. There was a tender for design announced in 1892. The most practical design came from Samu Pecz, and basically the Central Market Hall was built from 1894 to 1896.

design from 1893 for Vásárcsarnok Central Market Hall Budapest
Samu Pecz’s design for the Fővám Square front (1893

Just ten days before the completion of the market, however, there was a sudden fire breakout, which caused serious damages. The investigation into the fire accident, which lasted for a whole year, could not reveal what caused the fire. Then Samu Pecz started the repair works, this time with additional structures in order to increase safety. Petz worked with well established names in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, like Schlick (iron foundry making the steelwork for the building), or Zsolnay (making the pyrogranite coloured ceramic roof tiles), etc. The Central Market Hall finally opened its gates in 1897. The Central Market Hall supplied goods both to the capital and the countryside, and people were not always satisfied. Clients often complained that traders lacked manners and cheated with the measures.

Zsolnay tiles on Vásárcsarnok roof, Central Market Hall Budapest
Zsolnay pyrogranite loft ventilation caps and chimney pots on the Fővám Square front

The Association of Market Hall Traders established in 1897 was formed to solve such problems, come up with better rules to create a fair competition. However, when World War I broke out and the market police disappeared from the Central Market Hall, prices surged, so police had to be called back to resume order. Unfortunately, in WW2, the market hall was heavily damaged. Despite reconstructions in the 1960’s, the pillars of the building badly deteriorated, so the market hall was closed down in 1991. Vásárcsarnok was reopened as a protected monument, and a city favorite in 1994. Now you can hear the market hall clocks play Zoltán Kodály’s folksong tune, “I went to the fair…” every hour.