The Great Market Hall

I have a week left in Budapest. A week! So everything that I’ve wanted to post and show and babble about will follow in a hurried avalanche of scribbles and photos over the next few days.

First, the Great Market Hall. Located on the 47 and 49 tram stops, just east of Szabadság Bridge. My favorite source of vegetables, paprika,  and kitschy souvenirs to take home.

The Market Hall in the February cold.

Also home to this giant jar of Nutella:

Heart attack.

With the weather warming up and fruit other than apples and oranges (which I never want to see again) popping up at all of the veders’ stalls, the Market is the best place to haul a week’s worth of groceries. Just as I’m about to leave, sadly.

With a history reflecting the evolution of the city itself, the physical building is pretty interesting. Like most of modern Budapest, it was built in the last chunk of the 19th century. Neo-Gothic facades, rounded windows, tilework on the roof, a ceiling with metal scaffolding — reminiscent of Nyugati Station in brighter colors. The lanes and entrances are notably wide — an oddly wasteful (though very comfortable) feature now that was designed to accommodate horses and cargo wagons back in the day. The building as we see it now is actually a restoration. Following heavy damage in World War II, a messy reconstruction, and neglect during the communist years, the hall was deemed a hazard and closed in the early 90s. Unlike the former Exchange Palace and the Institute of Ballet, which remain eerily abandoned today, the Great Market Hall was renovated and restored to its pink-and-yellow splendor. A structure both beautiful and harmonious, as allegedly wished by architect Samu Pecz.

If you’re on a shopping trip there, cross Pipa Utca to the left of the market to check out the Azsia Bt. Not only did we find the princess pasta there last month, but they also stock the rarity of all rarities in Hungary — Skippy peanut butter. There is also an impressive variety of gourmet foods from all over the world, including a shelf of tiny panettone loaves and a whole aisle of spices that knocks you down into an aromatic coma.

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