on January 17, 2012
The Central Market Hall in Budapest was one of the first Market Halls I ever visited in Eastern Europe. I remember being totally bowled over by the atmosphere and all the colourful characters inside the hall as well as the numerous stalls selling just about everything you can imagine. I have been to quite a few Market Halls since but this is still one of my favourites and one I always visit when returning to Budapest.The market began to thrive as a modern market in the early 20th century, when goods were delivered via the Danube and an underground canal. It is always teeming with people on both levels and the best time to visit is probably late evening just before closing.The outside of the building is very attractive with its red and cream bricks interwoven with large arched gabled windows. The roof over the main entrance is colourful with a sort of green and yellow diamond design made by the tiles and every now and again along the whole length of the building a turret or two will pop up. In some ways the building inside and out reminds me of an old railway building. The shopping area, with its individual galleries and annexes, covers a length of 150 metres. When you enter through the main entrance the interior seems very dark yet the stalls on the ground floor are some of the most vibrant I have come across.The staircase is made from steel painted blue as are the gateways to different stalls. The ceiling is high and has been reinforced with the same blue metal girders.The strings and strings of garlic and chillies spread from the front entrance to the back entrance and this shopping area must feature every type of Hungarian produce as well as imported exotic fruits. All the produce is displayed beautifully; fresh fruit and vegetables are colour co-ordinated and piled high. The aromas of smoked meats and sausages is overwhelming as are the sweet smells of evocative spices. Pastries, sticky buns covered with icing or chocolate look as though each one has been polished and shine out from display shelves.On the top floor there is an excellent selection of embroidered textiles, allsorts of hats from a trilby, Russian hat with ear flaps, furry black and white hats that bury your head and keep you warm and snug, to a baseball cap. Handicrafts are displayed and are very bright and colourful. I love all the displays of Russian dolls with individual designs on the front and the large collection of chess sets and soft toys that come in all shapes and sizes. On the top floor there are also many snack bars and this area can become hectic at lunch times and around 4 in the afternoon. So many different dishes on offer, it is difficult to choose what to eat. Not just Hungarian food but Asian, Italian, Sushi, Greek. I found this eating area overwhelming at first as the snack bars run centrally through the top part of the market on a continuous serving counter so you have to be quick to get your order in and have a bit of nouse when finding a place to sit. It's a matter of first come, first served. Still, it all adds to the fun and experience of eating in a new place.You can find this spacious building known as the Central Market Hall immediately beyond the neo- Renaissance building that used to be the Harbour Customs House and is now the University of Industrial Science.
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