Budapest - Around Váci utca

JUL 29,2011 - JUL 29,2011 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

Attractions: Egyetem Ter, Innovation Living Shop, Kálvin tér, Váci utca (from south to north) (Sörforrás Étterem / restaurant in Váci utca 15, Kristóf ter, Vörösmarty tér, Gerbeaud), 

Start: Egyetem Ter (University Square).

End:    Vörösmarty tér (square) / Vigadó tér,.

Distance: 3-4 km.

Duration: 3/4 day.

Weather: any weather.

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How to arrive to Egyetem Ter: From Deák Ferenc tér - head south on Deák Ferenc tér toward Deák Ferenc utca, 80 m. Continue onto Sütő utca, 60 m. Turn left onto Szomory Dezső tér, 15 m. Turn right onto Bárczy István utca, 100 m. Continue straight onto Szervita tér, 50 m. Turn left onto Petőfi Sándor utca, 260 m. Continue onto Ferenciek tere, 55 m. Turn left onto Duna utca, 10 m. Turn right toward Ferenciek tere, 120 m.  Turn left onto Ferenciek tere, 7 m. Continue onto Károlyi utca, 180 m. Continue onto Egyetem tér, 5 m. The Egyetem tér or University Square derives its name from the branch of the prestigious Loránd Eötvös Science University located here. The building north of the square with the multicolored dome is the University Library. This is the first university library of the country which has been operating continually since the year of the foundation. In the middle of the 19th century the Library of ELTE was the 5th biggest library of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy with its 94 636 books. Now this is the 3rd biggest one of the capital with more than 1,6 million books and other documents (codices, maps, warrants, etc.):

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This square has just, recently (2012), refurbished - with new lighting, seating and decoration facilities:

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Attached to the main university building to the west is the lovely Baroque 1742 University Church. The church is very beautiful. The church is often full of young people. It is decorated with statues of saints, carvings and frescoes. Certainly an object worth a visit. Inside, you can a single elongated nave with modest Baroque decor. Highlights of the church include the attractive ceiling frescos depicting the life of Mary by Johann Bergl (1726).   You will also want to see the and ornately decorated Baroque pulpit (1924). Over the altar is a copy of the Black Madonna of Czȩstochowa so revered in Poland (1720):

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In front of the law faculty building of the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences - there is a small fountain. The water spouts out from the book’s spine, imitating the view of turning pages. The highly creative water fountain was set up in 2012, facing another huge book-statue made out of red marble, making the square the perfect rendez-vous spot and a favorite location for skate- rollers:

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South-east of the University Square, along Kecskeméti St, at #8 - note in the Innovation Living Shop:
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Head southeast along Kecskeméti utca toward Kálvin tér,170 m. Turn right onto Kálvin tér. Calvin Square) is a major square and was named after the French Protestant Reformer John Calvin (Kálvin János in Hungarian) due to the large Reformed Church located there. It dominates the view from the direction of the National Museum and the Liberty Bridge, while its illuminated clock tower is one of the most pleasant dash of color in the urban panorama at night. The church was designed to have two towers, and the final tower was built on the internal edges of their foundations. The lobby, closed by a columnar tympanum was built after the flood of 1838; the two side galleries designed by József Hild were built between 1854 and 1855; and the helm roof was built in 1859.

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The square is located in Pest at the junction of the 5th (Belváros-Lipótváros), 8th (Józsefváros) and 9th (Ferencváros) districts. Roads which converge at the square include the 'Kiskörút' (Inner Circuit, encompassing Múzeum körút ('Museum boulevard') north of the square, and Vámház körút to the south), Üllői út ('Üllő street'), Baross utca ('Baross street'), and Kecskeméti utca ('Kecskemét street').

Being a major thoroughfare and locality, the square is a major transport hub with tram, bus, and trolleybus routes serving the square. The Kálvin tér stations of the M3 and M4 lines of the Budapest Metro are located here. Other landmarks of the square are: hotel Mercure Korona and the glass business center.

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View from the southern edge of the square - where Raday Street starts:

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Continue south-west onto Vámház krt., 250 m. Before arriving to the the Central Market (on your left) (see the "A rainy day in South of Budapest" blog) you see nice reliefs on historical houses around:

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On the most easteren end of Fővám tér (Fővám Square) turn right to Váci utca. It starts from Vörösmarty Square, where it is pedestrianized and leads to the Great Market Hall near Fõvám tér. We enter the famous street from the south. The northern, pedestrianized section is the most interesting, with plenty of shops and even some sights. Actually the south part of the street is open to cars but the north part is fully pedestrianized so more appealing for strolling.Actually, Váci Street consists of two parts: the stretch between the Market and Erzsébet Bridge is full of souvenir and book shops with a few cafes, while the part from Elisabeth Bridge to Vörösmarty tér offers shopping opportunities with shops of major international brands. Since Váci stretches parallel with the Danube, you can reach the river side through small side streets.

The street  was formed in the eighteenth century, though most of the often grand buildings along the street date from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until the 1880-ies the main Promenade of Pest (Korzó) was the walkway lining the Danube between Eötvös Square and the Vigadó Square. By the turn of the 19th-20th centuries Váci utca took over the role of shopping street from Király utca, and the role of promenade fro the Korzó on the Danube embankment. Most of the protected buildings date from this period. As it became fashionable in the early decades of the twentieth century for the well-to-do to enjoy an early evening stroll down Vaci utca, the stores here had become more and more exclusive.

Today, it is, mainly, a pedestrian strip crammed largely with chain stores, touristy restaurants. Not only does it have many shops, but also many architecturally beautiful buildings from the 19th & 20th centuries, and the Little Boy fountain, Fisher Girl Fountain (at Kristóf Square nearby)  and the Greek god Hermes (see below). For me it was just a touristy area. The Danube river can be seen between the houses of the street. And the street itself is full of surprises.Use common sense at night and avoid girls that will ask you to go inside a bar for a drink, during the day just take care of pickpockets and check the menu before you order anything as the prices are a bit more expensive here. Gypsys selling their wares should be avoided but don't let that put you off a beautiful experience. Avoid also guys who are offering cheap Iphones (stolen or fakes). So, we just walked from south to north, we took some pictures of some nice corners (sculptures, flowers, some nice buildings) - and, that's all...

Note: If you need cash, never use the change offices; their exchange rates' commission is over 20%; use the ATMs whenever you can.

Some of the most interesting buildings facing Váci utca can be found near Vörösmarty Square. But, we start from the south. It is all in all 1.5 km walk along the famous street from the southern end (Fovam ter) to uts northern end (Vörösmarty tér).

Vaci Utca #8 (the MAC Cosmetics building):

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At No. 9 was an inn that József Hild, the renowned architect of the era, rebuilt. a. Now, it is the Pest theater, housed in a large neoclassical building. Note also the Art Nouveau interior of the Philanthia flower shop at the same No 9 building. This was the site of the Inn of the Seven Electors, where in 1823, the then twelve-year-old Franz Lizt performed. Also the 11-year old Mozart gave a concert here:

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The Thonet house at no 11, a masterpiece built by Ödön Lechner in 1890. It is the most eye-catching building along the street,, thanks to its colorful facade made of Zsolnay tiles:

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No. 39 Three reliefs show that the Zsolnay’s had an office, apartment and store here (1, a man making pottery, 2, a poet 3, the five-tower porcelain factory emblem):

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DO NOT MISS the Sörforrás Étterem (restaurant) BUILDING in Váci utca 15. The Sörforrás Restaurant has been operating since 1991. They offer a variety of Traditional Hungarian dishes including gulyásleves (Goulash Soup) served with their own 12 year old plum-pálinka and the finest wines of the Hungarian wineries. But the main portion - is the building itself...:

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On the corner of Nyári Pál utca, Váci utca 47 (the 5th turn to the right, east - coming from the south, heading to the north) stands the Church of Saint Michael (Belvárosi Szent Mihály templom) a Baroque temple from the middle of the 18. century. BEAUTIFUL INTERIOR. The church hosts the Baroque Music Festival in autumn:

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A bit further north, at the corner building at Váci utca 43, a bronze plaque commemorates that Charles XII king of Sweden took a rest there during its 14-day trip from Turkey to his home country:

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No. 42- when you watch hard, you will see owl statuettes at the balconies. Once the house of a famous Hungarian doctor (Frigyes Korányi). The facade is covered in Zsolnay pyro-granite ceramic tiles. Pyrogranite was developed by Vilmos Zsolnay, the greatest Hungarian potter achieving international appreciation for his porcelain, eosin and pyro-granite products:

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Further north, on your left (west), at Váci út 99, the Molinari kávé (Cafe'): everything you need for a good coffee. Ristretto, Espresso 270 HUF, Cappuccino 310 HUF, Caffe Latte 360 HUF.
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The oldest building of Budapest stands at the corner of Régiposta utca, a small side street at the Hermes Fountain. One of the first McDonalds and McCafe-s in the city operates in Régiposta street too. There's a nice ceramic plaquette by the famous artist Margit Kovács depicting the old post coach, Régiposta utca 13:

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At the same junction  stands a nineteenth-century fountain, with a bronze statue of the Greek god Hermes (fénykép):

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If you continue more northward - you cross Kossuth Lajos St on your right and Szabad sajtó Way on your left. The next turn to the right is Kígyó St. At the junction of Váci utcá and Kígyó utcá is the  famous Little boy fountain (Kisfiús díszkút) and features a central statue of a nude boy - created in 1976 by Ottó Szenczi:

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The next turn to the left, west - Piarista street (you have entrance also from Régiposta utca)  brings you to the Millenium Centre - a shops and offices centre. A three-storey shop house and additional eight-storey, flexible offices. It has three entrances (Váci u. U Barnabas u. and Régiposta u.) :

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At last we arrive to Kristóf ter. Several fountains embellish the shopping street. The most famous is the Fisher Girl Fountain (Halászlány-kút), at Kristóf Square. It was created in 1862 by László Dunaiszky:

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Our final landmark in Vaci utca is its most northern spot: Vörösmarty tér. Vörösmarty tér is the southern terminus of the yellow M1 Metro line. On the east side, a grandiose Art-Nouveau building stands, facing a masterpiece of modern architecture, a glass bubble with luxury apartments and stores:

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At the north side is the iconic Gerbeaud cafe'-restaurant (see below). At the centre of the square facing west is a statue of poet Mihály Vörösmarty:

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In the south corner of the square stands Váci1, the former Budapest Stock Exchange building transformed into a high-end department store, where you'll find the Hard Rock Café Budapest and the Szamos Gourmet Ház:

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In December every year, you can find the Budapest Christmas Fair here with the delicious specialities of the winter season and artistic handicrafts:

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The square has held many names since it was created. In 1812, it was called Theatro piatcza (because of the theatre formerly located there). From the 1830s, it was called Harmincad tér (Thirties Square), then Játékszín tér (another reference to the theatre) in 1833, and Séta tér (Promenade Square) in the 1840s. In 1846, it was called Német Színház tér (German Theatre Square), changed to just Színház tér in 1850, and then Régi Színház tér (Old Theatre Square) in 1866. In 1874, it was named Gizella tér (in honour of Archduchess Gisela of Austria), then briefly Károlyi Mihály tér between 1918 and 1920, then Gizella tér again until 1926 when it gained its current name. Today, a column in the square lists all its former names.

Gerbeaud,  Vörösmarty tér 7-8 (the northern side of the square): we include this cafe'/restaurant in this tip and not in the tips below- because it is not really a restaurant but, more,  a reminder of the Austro-Hungarian empire in Budapest. This is one of the places in Budapest with the oldest culinary traditions. The amazingly opulent cafe' interior is old-fashioned and the ambiance is very peculiar: high ceilings, heavy drapery and gold, uniformed waitresses and a lovely menu - all make you think you are in a time tunnel into the 19th century. The desserts are outstanding but pricey. Our best advice: walk through take a few pictures and move on. You can probably get the same or better quality elsewhere for cheaper but it's still worth a visit. The staff adds 15% cover charge as standard. The place is too crowded at all times:

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If you leave Vörösmarty tér from its south-west edge and continue west a few minutes - you arrive to Vigadó tér - our final stop:

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Food

Café Alibi, Egyetem tér 4:

Near  the Law University. Food is quite simple, but prices are reasonable too (10 euros main dishes). They offer about 10 types of breakfast menu till noon, and weekly specials - all day long.  You can findhere good milkshakes made of fresh fruit. Cafe ALibi is also known for their home-made pies. They roast their own coffee so there's a delightful roasted coffee smell as you enter. Young crowd. Service is added to the bill. Splendid stylish atmosphere. Good food but limited menu.  Open: MON - WED 08.00 - 21.00, THU - FRI 08.00 - 22.00, SAT 09.00 - 21.00, SUN 09.00 - 17.00.

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Food

Anna Cafe, Vaci utca 5:

The best cafe' to watch people in the southern end of the street, very close to the central market. Good selection of coffees, cakes (to die for) and deserts, very delicious array of sandwiches. They charge 20% service (added to the bill). No need for double tip. Open: MON - THU 08.30 - 23.00, FRI - SAT 8.30 - 24.00, SUN 8.30 - 23.00.

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Note: there is another Anna Cafe in the north end of Vaci utca, near Kristóf tér (opposite Souvenir Aero):

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Food

Paul's Bistro, Vaci u. 49:

Most of Vaci Utca restaurants are tourists' traps and fluctuate in their quality, service and prices. This restaurant is reliable, good quality and NOT a trap. Very good food. Hungarian cuisine. Slovakian and local wines. Superb Goulash soup (always with crispy, fresh bread). Filling ! Heartily service. Staff speaks English. Reasonable prices. Expect 25 USD - 25 Euros for a meal/person !

Open: daily 12.00 - 23.00. THEY ACCEPT CASH ONLY !!!

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Food

CultiVini, Párizsi u. 4 (between Váci utca & Petőfi Sándor utca - on the start of the 3rd northern part of Vaci utca, walking from south to north):

This new, fashionable place offers tasting by the sip, by the glass, buying in small or large quantities, and delivery right to your home around the globe. CultiVini is a wine shop with 150+ wines available for instant purchase or delivery right to your home, in Hungary or abroad. If you are in interested in the tasting, you can do so by paying an entrance fee (3000 HUF) to receive a card and glass. You can consume the amount on the card by tasting as many different wines as you'd like - a small sip of one, a full glass of another. You can load additional credit to your card as often as you'd like - if you don't consume all of it, we will return the unused credits to you if the used amount exceeds the minimum fee. It is also possible to try one particular wine you are interested in buying. CultiVini provides an opportunity for everyone to taste the best Hungarian wines in a pleasant and central location in Budapest.

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Hungary

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