Castle Garden Bazaar (Várkert Bazár) is, without doubt, one of the most breathtaking attractions in Budapest. For both tourists and locals, this restored neo-Renaissance building complex on the side of Castle Hill offers an experience of culture and history, in a way that we have never seen before.
The venue with its arcaded shops and Baroque gardens is perfect for taking a nostalgic walk or learning about Hungary’s history. It is an exquisite venue for leisure and entertainment as well, and is the perfect spot for taking creative wedding photos on your big day.
Let’s see what makes this place so special and undeniably unforgettable.
In the 19th century rapid development began on the Pest side of the Danube with an imposing row of palaces and a pedestrian mall. Meanwhile Buda side retained its rural 18th century appearance with single-floor buildings.
The city leaders decided to create a representative building complex and an ornamental garden at the foot of another splendid sight, the Royal Palace on the Buda side. The plan was to develop this building complex into a busy shopping and leisure centre, similar to the Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó) on the Pest side.
The construction work of Castle Garden Bazaar started in 1875, based on Miklós Ybl’s plans, who was one of the most celebrated architect of Hungary in that era. The building complex opened its spaces in 1883 with the original function to host an arcade of boutiques and an entertainment centre.
During World War II, the building suffered severe damage. Between the ‘60s and the ‘80s Castle Garden Bazaar was turned into a youth centre called the Youth Park (Budai Ifjúsági Park) to offer a controlled and decent entertainment spot for the youth of Hungary. The place functioned as an open-air disco and concert venue and hosted concerts and events for the country’s most famous pop and rock bands.
After the shutting down of Castle Garden Bazaar in 1984, the building complex became neglected, and was even marked for demolition. Despite of these circumstances, Castle Garden Bazaar has been a registered World Heritage Site since 1987.
Today’s Castle Garden Bazaar
The full reconstruction of the building complex started in 2011 and opened its “doors” again in 2014.
This lofty series of promenades today houses a cultural space with exhibition areas, cafés, restaurants, a neo-Renaissance flower garden, a park and a cinema. Castle Garden Bazaar also provides access to Buda Castle by an escalator, making it easy and fast to explore all the gems of the Buda side of Budapest.
There is a great variety of exhibitions you can choose from, as well as guided castle and garden walks in English, and various other experiences. If you want to visit some parts of Castle Garden Bazaar of your own, download this map and follow my instructions:
- the entrance is in front of the Gloriette, between the two lions;
- then proceed on the left (south) ramp up to the Gloriette;
- to leave the building use the escalator going upwards to Buda Castle next to the wall on the right;
- this escalator only runs upwards and takes you to the eastern boardwalk going down to Adam Clark square, the final stations of the Funicular;
- in case you wish to return to Chain Bridge, you have to use the northern, right ramp to leave the building.
Seasonally you can find many upcoming events for entertainment and culinary art, such as Easter or Christmas markets at Castle Garden Bazaar. The multifunctional community park is often used to host summer events such as concerts and festivals. For whatever reason you visit this venue, I can guarantee that you will fall in love with the beautiful scenery and the magical history of Castle Garden Bazaar.
Where to stay near Castle Garden Bazaar
Kastely Apartments – Buda Castle
Kastely Apartments is located in the Castle District, close to Budapest History Museum. The 41 sqm apartment features a terrace, free WiFi and a washing machine. Couples in particular like the location – they rated it 10 for a two-person trip.
Elisabeth Bridge Apartments
Elisabeth Bridge Apartments is located on the river bank of the Buda side in Budapest, 500 m from the Castle Hill, Elisabeth Bridge Apartmans offers you a tastefully furbished accommodations with free WiFi. The historical thermal baths like Gellért and Rudas can be found in 0.6 meters from the building.