Hungary’s Jewellery Box: Várkert Bazár
Várkert Bazár is, without doubt, one of the most breath-taking attractions in Budapest. For both tourists and locals, Várkert Bazár offers an experience of culture and history, in a way that we have never seen before. Lying on the side of Castle Hill in the 1st district, it is a characteristic work, adorning the city of Budapest. The venue is perfect for taking a nostalgic walk, learning about Hungary’s history, as well as it is an exquisite venue for leisure and entertainment. Let’s see what makes this spot so special and undeniably unforgettable.
The Renaissance complex of Várkert Bazár lies at the foot of another splendid sight, the Royal Palace in Budapest. It overlooks the Danube’s Buda riverfront towering over the city. Built between 1875 and 1883, based on the plans of Miklós Ybl, Hungary’s most celebrated architect, Várkert Bazár embellished the view of the city forever. The venue was originally made to host an arcade of boutiques and an entertainment centre. The city leaders planned to develop Várkert Bazár into a busy shopping and leisure centre, similar to the Danube Promenade on the Pest side. After World War II, the arcade became a popular spot for the youth, called the Youth Park, established by the then Communist government to offer a controlled entertainment value for the young people of Hungary. It functioned as an open-air disco and concert venue. In the 1960s and 80s, the place hosted concerts and events for the country’s most famous pop and rock bands.
Because of its frequent and extensive use by various owners and users over the 20th century, and the severe damage it suffered during World War II, the building needed to be renovated. The city closed Várkert Bazár in 1984, after which it became neglected and even marked for destruction. It was eventually renovated in 2014. It now houses a cultural space with exhibition areas, cafés, restaurants, a park, and a Renaissance flower garden which is extremely popular among tourists. Várkert Bazár also provides access to the Royal Palace by an escalator, making it easy and fast to explore all the gems of the Buda side of Budapest.
How to get there
Várkert Bazár lies in a perfectly beautiful spot between Chain Bridge and Elizabeth Bridge, on the square named after its creator, Miklós Ybl. It is easily accessible by tram 2 at Széchenyi István Square, or for more views, and to feel like a local, you can get off at Chain Bridge on the Pest side and walk across the bridge admiring the whole scale of the Castle Hill. You can also get on several buses, buses No. 16 and 105 will take you straight from Deák Ferenc Square to the heart of Buda. You can also approach the venue by boat No. 11, you simply need to get off at Várkert Bazár stop. The exhibitions are open temporarily, but the neo-Renaissance Garden is open every day between 10 am and 6 pm. From the place, you can also take a walk up to Buda Castle, taking the fascinating historical stairways leading up to the Buda Hills.
Programs and exhibitions
One of the most popular programs for visitors, when they visit Várkert Bazár, is having a nice walk or a summer picnic on a sunny day. It is also an extremely popular spot for newlyweds to take their wedding photos. There is a great variety of exhibitions visitors can choose from, as well as guided castle and garden walks both in English and Hungarian, and various other experiences. A permanent exhibition Várkert Bazár has to offer is called “A new world was born”. This exhibition guides the visitors through wartime history on over 2000 square metres. The venue is a truly historical and exceptional place to host art exhibitions, concerts, dance shows, and even film screenings in its cinema. Seasonally you can find many upcoming events for entertainment and culinary art, such as Easter or Christmas markets at Várkert Bazár. The multifunctional community park is often used to host summer events such as concerts and festivals. For whatever reason one visits the venue, one will certainly fall in love with the beautiful scenery and the magical history of Várkert Bazár.
by Kitti Bába