Great Market Hall (Nagyvasarcsarnok)
This huge marketplace is a tourist destination in its own right, besides being a working market that’s well patronized by local shoppers.
We are always attracted to local markets, as they are great places to learn a lot about local customs, culture, food, fresh produce, cooking etc. Open-air farmers’ markets are a micro sample of a society, but these huge market halls are also popular in many parts of Europe.
This attractive market hall was built (as were many other buildings in Budapest) around the millennial celebration year of 1896. Colorful Zsolnay tiles line the roof. These tiles, which are frost-proof and harder than stone, were part of the Hungarian national style that was emerging in the late 19th century. The interior reminds us somewhat of some of the covered markets in Paris, such as the Saint-Quentin Covered Food Market, near Gare de l’Est.
The cavernous open interior has three levels. The basement has a supermarket, a fish market, and piles of pickles—the Hungarians are famous for pickling just about anything, from peppers and cucumbers, to cauliflower, garlic, tomatoes and cabbage.
The ground floor is given over to produce stalls, bakeries, Hungarian wine, meat stalls (including goose liver and salamis), and paprika of every level of spiciness, and sold in colorful bags, or tins, or jars.
Upstairs, with floors linked by bridges, you can find souvenirs, such as beautiful embroidered cloths, T-shirts, woven bags, nesting dolls (matryoshka or matruska in Russian), flags; and stand-up eateries (see my earlier post on Langos and Linen, https://easterneuropetrip.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/langos-and-linen/ ). You can get upstairs either by escalator or metal steps.
All the stalls/shops have a name and an “address” like D17—alley number and shop number I think. It’s noisy, bustling and fun, just rambling around. We checked out some of the lovely cloths, but didn’t buy any in the end, and really ogled the salamis and pates, but knew we couldn’t carry those home. We did buy some paprika in pretty bags though and a small Hungarian cook book, so we’ll try some of their recipes when we get home.
When we were there, a few tables down the
middle of the ground floor had a special market exhibit of South African goods—not fresh produce obviously, but plenty of preserved produce, cloths, wood carvings. We were surprised and pleased and I spoke to a market employee, who told me that the market tries to spotlight a different country every few months. It’s a great idea, and what a wonderful way of getting Hungarian shoppers more familiar with the global market!
Open: Monday 6am-5pm, Tuesday-Friday 6am-6pm, Saturday 6am-3pm, closed Sunday.