Central Market Hall

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I like doing food shopping at a market. I love the smell of the fresh vegetables and fruits, meat and cheese, and even fish. I like the atmosphere all around. It reminds me of my childhood. Every summer I spent my holidays at my grandma’s and we went to the market every morning to buy fresh local delicacies to prepare lunch. We spent hours and hours browsing the market for the perfect ingredients and chatting with farmers. In hectic everyday life it is a bit challenging to go to a market every morning and spend hours there. So normally I buy food in a supermarket on weekdays. Since we’ve been together with Chef Nacho, we do our regular food shopping at the Central Market Hall every Saturday.

Central Market Hall (Központi Vásárcsarnok) is located at the Pest side of the Liberty Bridge. It is the largest and oldest indoor market of Budapest designed and built by Samu Pecz in 1897 as the main market of the city. Although 4 other modern market buildings were opened in the city around this time: Hold Street, Rákóczi square, Klauzál square and Hunyadi square, the Central Market Hall has become one of the most visited Budapest attractions for both its architecture and its food selections. The entrance gate is neo-Gothic style and the roof is an eye-catcher, covered with colorful Zsolnay tiling, the same kind of tiles you find in Matthias Church in Budapest. During World War II Central Market Hall was extensively damaged, but it was restored perfectly in the 1990s.

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This bright, three-level market hall is a pleasure to visit. It is a real paradise for tourists, but not in the ordinary souvenir-fetish way. The main floor is filled with meat, salamis, cheese, vegetable, fruit, spice, pastry and liquor stalls, and the lively red Hungarian paprika and Hungarian pálinka are also available here. The second level hosts the huge food court. Lunch time is the midday peak hours as many hungry locals and tourists pop in for a quick, cheap lunch between 12 pm and 2 pm. I recommend you to taste locals’ favorite, the lángos, the deep fried flat bread. It’s a great fast food, especially with a glass of cold beer. On the second level there are also local handicrafts, embroidered clothing and tablecloths, leather goods, ceramics, glassware and other products of folk art and, of course, some standard souvenirs. The basement contains a supermarket, butchers, fresh fish stalls, and all kind of pickles. Beside the traditional cucumber pickles, they also offer pickled cauliflower, cabbage, beets, tomatoes and garlic.

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Central Market Hall is open from Monday to Saturday, but not on Sundays despite of the opening rules of Hungary. This place is really well worth a look inside. Keep your eyes open and your taste buds ready for a special experience in the Central Market Hall in Budapest.

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