The day before leaving Europe, after moving around the continent for 15 days, we went back to the beginning, we went back to Budapest.
It felt exhilarating to be back in the city we learned to love a couple of weeks before. I knew I had to be back before going home because I still had a stop to make.
I couldn’t leave before paying a visit to the Great Market Hall, the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest.
That is how a Saturday morning we ended up passing thru the doors of this gastronomic temple in Budapest.
To be accurate, the Great Market Hall is located on the Pest side of the city, at the end of the famous pedestrian street known as Vaci utca. The market is located directly across the Liberty Bridge.
The original building was constructed in 1897 with Neogothic touches. The roof contains colorful tiles from the town of Pecs and the inside consists of a steel structure (very intricate steel structure I should say).
During the World Wars, the structure was completely damaged and then closed for some years. Throughout the 1990s, restoration works brought back the market to its ancient splendor. The building even won an excellence prize in 1999.
Once you enter the market, you are going to notice the total dominance of the most prominent spice in Hungary, the paprika. Stall after stall sells the precious pepper in its many forms.
I loved to see the dry peppers hanging from the many stalls. I think I will be happy in a paprika only market.
In addition, the spice is sold as a powder. You can find the spicy, sweet and smoked versions. Some bags of paprika come with recipes of what can be prepared with the product. So, do not worry what you are going to cook with it. Make sure you get some and the inspiration will come later.
Also, Paprika is sold in jars or in tubes (as a paste).
They even sell you the paprika spoons in a very unique way (see below).
Are you ready for a fun fact? Maybe you know this but the peppers used to make paprika come from the New World (like tomatoes and chocolate). The Spaniards introduced the peppers to Western Europe and the Ottomans to Central Europe and the Balkans.
After getting an overdose of paprika, you are going to notice a second obsession of Hungarians. More than 20 stalls in the market are dedicated to sausages and cold cuts. To be honest, they looked delicious. I couldn’t stop looking at how one type was different from another.
In the Great Market Hall, you can find sausages made from liver, pork, rice and blood (black sausage). They have a wide array of salamis and bacon. In addition, you can find sausages typical from towns like Szeged, Gyula and Debrecener.
And get this, are you ready? They have Lokolbasz or horse sausage. Yup, you read that right.
It is very difficult to walk around so many sausages without salivating or wanting to try some. I have good news. You can buy slices by the half or quarter kilo or ask the vendors to prepare you a sampler plate.
The only thing is that you are not going to know exactly what you are eating (you can ask but there is a language barrier). I am sure you know where I am going with this. I think I tried that horse sausage. What is more, I think it was the piece I liked the most!
If you are a fan of all things sweet, do not fear. There are stalls selling what I call a ridiculously variety of sweet and cakes. Get prepared to find Dobos torta, Linzer torta, kifli (crescent shaped biscuit), piskota (crispy cookie), turo rudi (sweet cheese filled in a chocolate bar) and much more.
Oh, and the famous poppy rolls and strudels are everywhere.
A lot of the cakes sold in the city’s famous cafes are available in here at a discounted price (not the same atmosphere but cake is cake). I had a hard time deciding what to eat and ended up eating two pieces of cake (if I remember correctly ;0) My husband got cookies, nougat and sweet bread.
Fresh produce is available if that is your kind of thing. Locals come here to fill their shopping bags.
The Great Market Hall is filled with many more goods. I encourage you to walk around and see what you can find. We saw cheese, hand-made pasta, honey, jelly, jam, olive oil, Hungarian wine and chocolate. The list continues and continues. This may be the market where I have seen more goods per square meter.
Now, everything I have described in here is located in the first floor. The second floor contains stalls selling typical Hungarian food such as goulash, langos, chicken paprikash, lecso and palacsinta. The food is delicious! Yes, I ate in there too!
Last but not least, the second floor offers a big variety of all sorts of souvenirs. Take a look around to see if something gets your attention.
What do you think? Did I have a reason to go back to Budapest? Well, I think so. After experiences like this, my desire to visit European markets grow.
Hope you have enjoyed this short tour of the Great Market Hall and bon appetite if you are running in this moment to get some food!
Would you visit this market?
Ready to pin? Let’s do this!