Csepel is a special place in Budapest because it occupies the northern end of Csepel Island, one of the biggest islands on the River Danube. Moreover, it is the most colourful part of Budapest, having not only blocks of flats or family house districts but also beaches near the Danube, one of the biggest factories of Hungary, and a lot of other interesting things to see. Furthermore, since the downtown of the capital and Csepel are connected by train, you can easily get there.
Legend says that the island got its name after Árpád’s Cuman equerry who lived on the island and was named Csepel. Even so, the island, thanks to its central position and since it could be easily fortified and defended, was the seat of the leading Hungarian tribe after the conquest of the Carpathian Basin. The island belonged to the Hungarian kings after Stephen I (997-1038) founded the Christian state of Hungary
where the monarch organised grand huntings.
Probably the most famous of these was the one in which Hungarian king Béla III (1172-1196) and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (1155-1190) took part.
Here is a video about the island and the Danube:
The village built on the island prospered over the centuries but remained a small settlement. Unfortunately, in 1838, the great flood of the Danube destroyed it, but the survivors rebuilt the village a bit more to the south compared to where the original one was. The real change came when Manfréd Weiss chose Csepel to build his factory that shortly became the biggest of its kind in Hungary.
As a result, many people moved to Csepel, which became the largest Hungarian village by the end of the 19th century. Because of the peace treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost its connection to the seas, so the government helped trade by building an international free port on the island in 1928.
Historians say that in 1920,
the Polish army was able to defeat the Soviet invaders only with the help of the ammunition made in the Manfréd Weiss Steel and Metal Works.
After the regime change, the factory’s importance decreased, and many of it was sold to foreign investors. Today, the leadership of the district would like to create a family- and child-friendly place where all generations can feel well, and to do so, they receive a lot of government funds.
There are many small museums in Csepel presenting the history of the factory or the local education and how people lived there in the previous centuries. One can also take a walk near the Danube on the many promenades built in the last few years. Moreover, you can also rent a kayak and row on the silent river. Or you can take a walk on the Tamariska Hill where you can see a lot of endangered and unique species of plants and animals like long-eared owls, blackbirds, or mockingbirds.
From the downtown of Budapest, you can easily get to the centre of Csepel by the H7 HÉV, which is a fast train starting from Boráros Square, and it arrives in Csepel in only 14 minutes. So, if you want to get out of the crowded and noisy downtown quick, Csepel is the perfect destination to visit and spend one or even more days there to relax.