If you are visiting Budapest for a day, you should definitely visit Varosliget Park. Almost all hiking trails converge at Heroes' Square, where the main entrance to the park is located. They come here to take a break from the noise of the city, visit the largest balneological baths in Europe, and admire the beauty of the local castle. There is entertainment for both adults and children. And if you get hungry, you can visit the old restaurant "Gundel" or various cafes.
This is how Varoshliget Park began
Varoshliget, which means "city park" in Hungarian, is located in the center of Budapest. A few centuries ago, there were swamps and forests in this place. But already at the end of the 18th century, the swamps began to drain, and the laying of a system of artificial reservoirs began. It was decided to create a city park for the rest of the townspeople and holding ceremonial events here.
Since this territory was located outside the city limits, it was rather difficult to get here on foot. The city authorities foresaw this, and for the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the Kingdom of Hungary, they decided to create an underground path from the center of the capital. This road laid the foundation for the Budapest metro, the very first line of the M1 subway was built here, connecting the park with the city square of Vereshmarty.
The park itself was expanded and improved over time. Today Varoshliget and the Vajdahunyad Castle (Budapest) are one of the favorite places for rest of the townspeople and visitors. On its territory there are many interesting sights, museums, an amusement area, a circus, restaurants and cafes. There is also a zoo, a botanical garden and a swimming pool. Varoshliget hosts city holidays and various events.
Landscape and plants
The entire territory of the park is planted with many plants brought from different countries. And in the local botanical garden there are also quite rare species, some of which date back more than one century. Among the 7 thousand trees growing in Varoshliget, some are exotic plants. They have adapted to the local climate and grow quite successfully. Park alleys and flower beds are decorated. Local reservoirs were created during the reign of Maria Theresa, to our time they have been preserved almost unchanged.
Park map. We develop our route
Varoshliget occupies a huge territory. Visitors can purchase a map of the park showing all the main attractions. And plan your route depending on what you want to visit: Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, baths, a zoo and more.
Heroes' Square in Budapest is also the main entrance to Varosliget Park. You can get to this place by metro, getting off at the Hősök tere station. Already from the name it is clear that the square was named after the Hungarians, who left a big mark in the history of their country. There are several sculptural groups on it.
In the center of the square there is a high column - the Monument of the Millennium of Hungary, which is crowned with a bronze figure of the Archangel Gabriel. There is a legend according to which the archangel convinced King Istvan in a dream to accept Christianity himself and carry the faith to his people. Therefore, Gabriel holds the crown and the apostolic cross in his hands. There are equestrian figures on the pedestal around the column. These are seven Magyar leaders, led by Prince Arpad, who, passing the Ural Mountains, came to these places and founded the Hungarian Kingdom.
Two colonnades, set in a semicircle, carry bronze statues of Hungarian princes from different dynasties. From the top of the colonnades, allegorical figures gaze at the square, depicting Labor, Prosperity, Wisdom, Glory, War and Peace. In front of the column is a slab dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the two world wars. There are also two buildings on the square: the Museum of Fine Arts, which displays a large collection of paintings by artists from different countries, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, where traveling exhibitions are held.
This museum displays the largest collection of paintings by artists from around the world.
Hours of operation:
- Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:30;
- Thursday: 10:00 - 22:00.
Lakes in the park
There are several artificial reservoirs in the park, around which paths with benches stretch. Here you can relax in the shade of trees and feed the waterfowl that occupy the local lakes. In winter, a city skating rink is arranged on one of the reservoirs, and in summer boats and catamarans ply the water surface. You can rent water transport at the Tourist Center. There are also maps of the park. Hourly boat rental costs HUF 1500. During this time, you can admire the Vaidahunyad Castle and other beauties of the park to your heart's content.
Now it's time to get to know the castle better. Outwardly, it resembles a fairytale fortress, it is so interesting that several styles and various decorative ornaments are intertwined in it. Do not rack your brains about who and when of the Hungarian aristocracy lived in this place. This building is a kind of remake, embodying the features of famous Hungarian fortresses and the author's imagination, and it was built exclusively to decorate the park. According to the description of Vajdahunyad in Budapest, a combination of several architectural styles at once is noticeable: Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classics.
To a greater extent, the structure resembles the Romanian castle Vaidahunyad, where Vlad Tepes, known as Dracula, lived. The Hungarian palace was named after its Romanian counterpart.
And this was done at the end of the 19th century. First, there was a model of a plywood castle, designed by local architect Ignaz Alpara to celebrate the millennial anniversary of the Kingdom of Hungary. The residents of the city liked the scenery so much that in 1904 a stone copy of the fairy-tale palace was erected on this site. Near the walls, as expected, there is a moat with water. There is both a traditional bridge and a rising lattice gate.
The castle itself houses the Museum of Agriculture. And next to Vaidahunyad there is a sculpture by the architect Alpar Ignaz, who became famous for the creation of a fairytale castle.
Hours of operation:
- Monday - Sunday: 00:00 - 24:00 (admission is free).
Museum working hours:
- Monday: closed all year;
- Tuesday - Friday: 10:00 - 16:00 (November 1 - March 31), 10:00 - 17:00 (April 1 - October 31);
- Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00;
- The last entry into the museum is allowed half an hour before closing.
Another attraction is located next to the castle in Budapest. This is the Yak chapel. A beautiful building - a copy of the church of Benedict monks, built in 1214 near the border with Austria in one of the Hungarian villages. Over time, the present building disappeared, but its construction drawings have survived. They were taken as a basis by the same Alpara Ignaz, who built the chapel first as a fake for the holiday, and then remade it in stone.
The inauguration of the chapel and castle took place in 1908. The festive event was honored by the presence of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. Today it is a working religious building, where masses are held, and on weekends they come here for weddings and christenings.
Newlyweds love to take photos with the castle and chapel in the background. It was built in the Romanesque style, has a rectangular shape and a main tower. The carved stone facade is decorated with an arched entrance and figures of Jesus with the apostles. The chapel is beautiful inside too: stained-glass windows by the Hungarian architect Bertalan Arkay, bas-reliefs with scenes from the lives of saints, carved wooden benches.
Monument to Anonymous
Near Vajdahunyad Castle (Budapest) on the map you can see another local attraction. This is a sculpture called "Anonymous". It was created by the Hungarian sculptor Miklós Ligeti in 1903. The bronze figure depicts the unknown author of the historical work The Deeds of the Hungarians (Gesta Hungarorum). The work written in Latin tells about the history of the settlement of the Hungarians, the names of the leaders of the Magyar tribes are given. In the manuscript itself, the author gave himself the name Belae Regis Notarius, or notary (scribe) of King Bela. This refers to the monarch Bela III, whose reign fell on the years 1172-1196.
A two-meter high bronze chronicler sits on a bench. He is dressed in an old cloak, with a deeply pulled down hood. In the shadow of the falling trees, the sculpture appears to be missing a face. On closer inspection, you can make sure that the face is in place, but instead of eyes there are empty eye sockets. This detail gave rise to the legend of the supposedly blind chronicler who composed Acts.
In his hands, Anonymous holds a manuscript and a pen, which students love to rub in the hope of creative inspiration.
Transport Museum (Magyar Műszaki és Közlekedési Múzeum)
The Transport Museum on the territory of Varoshliget Park was erected in 1896, in honor of the millennium of the country. There you can see everything about the transport of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But during the Second World War, most of the exhibits were damaged. Some of the samples were restored and the museum was reopened to the public in 1966.
Wheel of Time
In honor of Hungary's accession to the European Union, an 8-meter hourglass "Wheel of Time" was installed in the park. Every year on December 31, the clock is turned over, so the next year begins.
Walks in the Varoshliget park
You can just walk in the park. According to local residents, they come here to take a break from the city noise, walk along the paths, sit by the lake with a book or feed the ducks and swans. Pensioners and mothers with children exercise here, take pets for walks, couples in love walk. There are a lot of people in the park since the morning. Someone runs along the paths, pedals, someone just rests under the spreading maples and plane trees, getting ready for a new day, and someone looks at sculptures, there are many of them here.
Cafes and restaurants
The park is home to one of the oldest and most sophisticated establishments in Budapest - the Gundel restaurant. It was named after its founder, who had been popularizing Hungarian cuisine for many years. Gundel wrote several cookbooks with many Magyar recipes, which were subsequently translated into different languages of the world.
Before the Gundel, this place was the restaurant Vampetix. At the beginning of the 20th century, Karoly rents it and turns an ordinary place into a popular place, famous throughout Europe. Further, the son of a Hungarian restaurateur continued the work of his father. And today, the famous Gundel House, embodying Karoy's ideas, stands out for its excellent cuisine and hospitality.
The restaurant's signature dish is delicious pancakes stuffed with raisins, nuts and rum, which are served with chocolate.
In addition to the famous restaurant in the park, there are several inexpensive cafes and restaurants, a bar, a biscuit shop, and a burger shop.
One of the oldest zoos in Europe is located in the park. It was opened in 1865, and for more than 150 years it has been delighting adults and children with the opportunity to join the animal world. It contains more than 3 thousand individuals.
Some animals calmly walk along the paths of the zoo, and some of them are placed in aviaries with a glass fence. You can calmly look at the local inhabitants almost up close. There is a contact area for babies where you can stroke and feed different pussies. Feeding of the rest of the inhabitants is also allowed at certain hours, food is sold here.
On the territory of the zoo there is a palm pavilion, a butterfly house, an underground aquarium. Many rare plant species grow on the territory. There are also places where you can have a quiet and inexpensive snack.
Hours of operation:
- summer period: 9:00 - 19:00;
- winter period: 9:00 - 16:00.
Go to the bathhouse or relax in the Széchenyi bath
Here in Varoshliget there is also a large balneological bathhouse, which includes 18 pools with thermal waters. It was built at the beginning of the last century, when engineer Vilmos Zsigmondi discovered a healing spring. The water in the spa bath is enriched with various microelements that have a beneficial effect on the human body. Stay here is especially indicated for people with diseases of the joints and the gastrointestinal tract.
The bathhouse offers various services: steam room, sauna, solarium, massages, beauty treatments. There are both outdoor pools with a water temperature of 28 ° C, therapeutic baths - 36 ° C, steam rooms - up to 50 ° C, and a pond with cool water - 19 ° C.
Hours of operation:
- daily: 06.00 - 22:00;
- drinking well: 09:00 - 17:00.
A tourist on a note
Entrance to the park is free. You will have to pay to visit some local attractions.
On weekends and holidays, various events are held here: festivals, concerts, fairs. There is an exhibition and concert hall named after Petofi in the park with an open stage and a large auditorium.
Park address: Budapest, Kós Károly sétány, 1146 Hungary.
It works around the clock. Baths, restaurants, cafes, attractions, circus, museums, Vajdahunyad Castle (Budapest) have their own schedule.
You can get to the park by taxi, metro (yellow line M1) or by buses No. 20E, 30, 30A, 75, 105. You should get off at the stop “Heroes' Square” (Hősök tere).
There are many interesting sights in Budapest. Some of the most popular are Varoshliget Park and the eclectic Vaidahunyad Castle.