on March 25, 2006
This is the largest of five market halls which opened in Budapest at the end of the 19th century. It was built in the 1890s, lovingly restored in 1994, and is still a focal point for city life. It has rightly become one of the most popular and visited shopping sites for tourists.Designed by the Hungarian architect Samu Pecz (1854-1922), it opened during the era when so many markets were organized and brought under roofs in Europe. The spacious, expansive structure is supported by slender steel columns which allow for maximum light. The outside facade is pyrogranite decor by Zsolnay, a Hungarian tile factory with an international reputation.The market hall is open Monday 6am to 5pm; Tuesday to Friday 6am to 6pm; Saturday 6am to 2pm; and is closed on Sundays. An excellent booklet in several languages is for sale at some of the souvenir stalls upstairs. Plenty of local people shop for their daily fare here, undaunted by the hundreds of tourists roaming up and down the aisles. The lower level is devoted to food; there are rows of stalls with fresh vegetables, stands of fowl and meat, and a couple of shops with wine and liquor. The only problem a visitor faces is trying to choose from the salami, strings of red peppers, and packets of saffron. Far in the back, a few small farmers come in from the country with honey, peppers, and fresh berries in season.The second floor contains the handicrafts and souvenirs so dear to many visitors’ hearts: embroidery, leather work, hand-carved chess sets, and matruska dolls from Russia. But even if these things have no appeal, the market is interesting in itself because it gives an insight into local life. The imposing building of the University of Economics stands close by.
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