The biggest market hall of Budapest, the Central Market Hall in Fővám Square was opened 120 years ago, on February 15, 1897. Today, the Central Market Hall is not only an important commercial centre, but one of the most often visited tourist attractions as well, writes.

After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, significant developments began in the city. Pest, Buda, and Óbuda were united in 1873 to form Budapest, and the population doubled in a few years. In 1891, the General Assembly issued a tender for the construction of five market halls in different parts of the city: Fővám Square, Rákóczi Square, Klauzál Square, Hunyadi Square, and Hold Street.

The biggest investment was the Central Market Hall. The construction began on June 25, 1894, based on the plans of Samu Pecz. The building was to be completed for the Millennium celebrations, the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarians conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 896, but the opening had to be delayed due to a fire accident which destroyed the roof structure. The five new market halls were opened at the same time on February 15, 1897.

Photo: Fortepan

The Central Market Hall measures an impressive 8363 square metres, covered with a wrought iron structure. The walls are covered with bricks in red and yellow shades, while the roofing is made of glazed ceramic tiles, and the facade is covered with Zsolnay pyrogranite ceramics. The construction of the Central Market Hall cost 1 million 900 thousand forints, almost as much as the other four combined.

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The first director, Nándor Ziegler implemented several strict rules regarding behaviour in the market hall. Loud and aggressive recommendations, shouting, whistling, and cursing were forbidden, as was packaging in newspaper, and sellers were responsible for cleaning up their own rubbish.

The building suffered serious damages in the Second World War, and the reconstruction work focused on speed over quality. In the 1960s, closed stands appeared and the market hall lost its old atmosphere. During the following decades, the building became too dangerous and in 1991, it was closed down. Reconstruction finished in 1994, during which the original covering materials, made by Zsolnay Manufacture, were restored, and the market hall was extended by 24 thousand square metres.


In 1999, the reconstructed Central Market Hall won the FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Award. It was chosen by CNN Travel as Europe’s most beautiful market, and the Guardian listed it among the 10 most famous market halls of Europe. It’s an important commercial centre, and one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city. Many famous people have visited it, including Franz Joseph I of Austria, Sigmund Freud, and Margaret Thatcher.

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Copy editor: bm


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