Grand Central Market Hall
The Grand Market Hall - Nagyvásárcsarnok - Central Market Hall by its official name - is the largest indoor market of Budapest, found in the 9th district, on the border of the inner city and Ferencváros. The Market Hall has been portrayed in several TV news around the world as many prestigious political guests of Budapest have purchased garlic and ground red paprika here in front of the cameras. Everything from meat through spices to vegetables is available here in the most beautiful, largest and richest market of Budapest.
Samu Pecz architect, designed by the Technical University teacher in 1897, together with the neighboring University of Economics. Historicism in. Hungary is one of the most beautiful brick architecture.
The construction of the building began in 1894, but due to a fire disaster a few days prior to opening, it was opened to the public only on February 15, 1897. At the same time, 4 other modern market buildings were opened in the city (Hold street, Rákóczi square, Klauzál square and Hunyadi square). The total cost of construction was 1 900 000 HUF, almost as much as the cost of the other 4 markets of the district altogether. Following the opening ceremony, the first cargo train rolled into the hall and one day after, "life" began in the market hall.
The grand Neogothic building of the Nagyvásárcsarnok is located on Fövám square at the Pest side of Szabadság bridge. It was built at the end of the 19th century along with five other similar market halls in the city. It is the largest and most beautiful of these. Its enormous interior is covered by an iron and glass structure, which provides lighting for the spacious marketplace. Its towers and roof covered by glazed tiles are visible already from a distance.
In olden times this most famous of market halls was connected to the River Danube by a tunnel so that goods could be directly offloaded from barges and taken inside to the stalls for sale. Upstairs is in stunning - although sometimes pricey - range of folk art inspired goods.
It had already been suggested in the 1860s that the food supply to the capital city should be improved by the construction of market halls. One of the main objectives set by preliminary plans was that only food which had been inspected should be sold. Not only had the establishment of the retail network to be organised, but they also wished to regulate the sale of wholesale goods.
Because of continuous deterioration in food supply conditions, a plan encompassing the whole capital was worked out in 1879. General assembly resolution No. 852 of 30 December provided for the establishment of a Food Committee.
The committee formed to prepare for the establishment of market halls drew up a proposal in 1883. They considered the most favourable position for the Central Market Hall to be Fövám Square, on the site of the Salt depot.
On 28 October 1885, the subject of the market hall once again arose in the capital. The Committee for Economics and Food discussed and accepted the initiative of committee member Lajos Nyíri. They were of the decided opinion that the Central Market Hall must be built in the 9 th district, on the plot of land lying between the Vámház Blvd, and Pipa, Csillag and Sóház (meaning: salt depot) Streets. At that time, the plot was the property of the state treasury. According to an initial agreement, "the royal government relinquishes the plot for the sake of the capital". Materialisation of plans for a market hall had been dragging on for several years at that time, and essentially no progress had been made. Conditions further deteriorated due to the disorganised state of food supply for the capital and the rapid increase in the population. In 1890 events connected with the establishment of the market halls increased in pace. To an increasing extent, the public became aware of the necessity for a market hall.
After a general assembly resolution in 1891 which appeared to be final, the Prime Minister Kálmán Tisza, or rather the Justice Minister Teofil Fabiny, relinquished the site to the capital in exchange for a site on Alkotmány Street.
The first director of the market was Nándor Ziegler, who established firm rules of functioning. One of the provisions for example was that the vendors could only use the facilities of the market and were not allowed to make their own booths. Company logos and advertisements had to be approved by the management. Rental fees were based on the type of goods sold. The highest rent was to be paid by those selling fish, because of the cooling facilities. Hygenic provisions were also numerous, and it was forbidden to promote the goods by yelling, singing or whistling. Swearing was also not allowed and a strict schedule of opening hours was introduced. These rules were not very popular among the vendors. Not all goods met the higher quality standards not seen before. Several critical articles were published and clients complained about prices, mean vendors and that they were cheated several times. Goods quality was supervised continuously and bad quality goods were often confiscated by the management. Following the disputes of the first few weeks, the vendors soon realized that the revenues were growing from month to month. During the years, both the inside and the outside of the building was further facilitatated, for example the fish hall was constructed along with the arcades on the outside.
During World War I, however, prices skyrocketed and rumbles and stealings were not an uncommon scene. Significant damage was caused in the building during World War II. The so-called ground-level "chicken hall" and the Pipa street crossship were damaged badly. During the renovations, ceramics stored in the basement were used, but unfortunately, speed was of higher importance than precision. In the 60's, standardized booths were placed in the building, leading to a loss of the old atmosphere. Eventually, the market was shut down in 1991 because the structural damages of the building acquired during World War II became life threatening. Renovations were finished in 1994 and the market hall once again became one of the most prestigious buildings of Budapest. In 1999, it won the most prestigious internaional prize of the architectural world, the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence.
Everyday life in the market:
Visiting the market hall in Budapest is a must for all tourists. Entering the market through the main entrance, you won't know which way to turn as the colorful booths and the mouth-watering vegetables and meats will immediately catch your eye. If you are able to resist the temptation of the first booths, it's best to begin in the basement where you can taste the famous Hungarian sour vegetables and visit the oriental stores. In addition, you'll also find a place here where you can have breakfast, a grocery and the chemical products discount store. Coming back to ground level, we'll hopp right into the busy life if the market, zig-zagging through the vegetables and fruits, freah meats and processed meat products. You are best off enjoying this with a fresh baked small bread in your hand... Furthermore, there is a hairdresser on the ground level. Climbing the stairs to the galery, rest a minute and look back at the busy life beneath you and the firm structure of the building itself. Goods on this level are mainly gifts, souvenirs and wines. Also, several buffets are available here, offering a chance to taste original Hungarian recepices locals love. If you have time, it's really worth looking around on all three levels and even if you are not purchasing anything, it's a great experience just to see for yourself what locals are buying and how people are behaving in the market.
Numerous famous people have taken home souvenirs from the Central Market Hall. Franz Joseph, Austro-Hungarian Emperor was here shortly after the opening nearly 110 years ago. German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, Siegmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, and Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister has also visited the Central Market Hall.
Mon: 6.00 am - 5.00 pm
Tue-Fri: 6.00 am - 6.00 pm
Sat: 6.00 am - 3.00 pm
Sun: Closed on Sundays and official holidays.
How to get to the Grand Central Market Hall:
- tram Nr.2.
- tram Nr.47., 49.
- bus Nr.15.
- underground line 3
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