When you visit Budapest, make sure to try Paprikas Csirke, the classic Hungarian main dish that is served with nokedli or spatzle (Hungarian dumplings). You can also get it in other flavours such as veal or catfish.
Another highlight is the spectacular National Police Headquarters along Andrassy Avenue. This neo-Gothic Revival stunner is one of the most photogenic buildings in the city.
The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue in Budapest was founded during the late 19th Century. This was a time of prosperity for the Jewish community and Budapest. They had a lot of money and the Great Synagogue was one of the most prominent examples of this.
It was built in the popular at that time Moorish Revival style. It is the largest Jewish house of prayer outside New York City. It also houses the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, displaying objects pertaining to religious and everyday life.
Inside you will find both Romantic and Moorish elements. There is a huge central rose window and a magnificent organ. You can also admire the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial – a weeping willow with silver leaves that bear the names of victims.
It’s not your typical Jewish temple and you will probably feel a bit out of place at first. But if you take the time to understand the background of this building you will see that it’s not so unusual after all.
The Great Market Hall
Built in 1897, this dazzling market hall, also called Nagycsarnok or Vasarcsarnok is Budapest’s biggest and most beautiful indoor marketplace. It was commissioned by the city’s first mayor, Karoly Kamermayer who was determined to bring order to the chaotic open markets of the day. In the new market hall, hygiene rules were enforced along with a system for buyers and sellers to communicate.
Visiting the market hall is a must for all visitors to Budapest. Located on Fovam Ter, this three story neogothic building offers tourists and locals all they need under one roof. Here you can buy meats, sausages, Hungarian royal Tokaji wine, paprika and other traditional products and souvenirs.
Locals do their grocery shopping here and if you happen to be here around lunchtime, head upstairs for some hearty Hungarian food like goulash or chicken paprikas. If you’re a little more adventurous, try the goose liver pate (libamaj) from one of the stalls – this is considered a delicacy in many countries but it’s relatively inexpensive here.
The House of Terror
Located in the building that once housed Hungary’s feared AVH secret police, the House of Terror offers a shocking account of the fascist and communist regimes that ruled here. The exhibitions are exhaustive and unsettling, and cover the bleak period of the ‘Double Occupation’, leading up to the 1956 uprising.
The AVH was feared across Budapest and ruthlessly cracked down on anyone who defied its authority. Countless people were interrogated, tortured and executed under its watchful tentacles. The dreaded headquarters of the AVH were on 60 Andrassy Boulevard and it was from here that orders would be given to kill or jail people, recruit informers and suppress rebellion.
Although the museum has received substantial criticism from historians and museologists over its use of artifacts, it is still an effective way to learn about a dark chapter in Budapest’s history. A visit here will leave you with a heavy heart and a greater respect for the victims of both extreme regimes.
The Basilica Light Show
The Great Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, and it steps up a gear each winter when it hosts a Christmas market. It’s a fantastic place to shop for local gifts and souvenirs, and also to stock up on some delicious food and drink.
The highlight of this market is a light show projected onto the façade of St. Stephen’s Basilica. It’s an absolute must-see for any visitor to the city.
You’ll also find a cosy ice skating rink and some of the city’s best food vendors on display. Don’t forget to try a roll of the city’s famous sweet Chimney Cake, or some hot mulled wine.
The Christmas market is located in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to get to from anywhere. Most of the main sights on both sides of the river are within a 20-minute walk, and Deak Ferenc Street is nearby with a great selection of shops.