Margaret Island, Budapest
Margaret Island in Budapest (Margit-sziget) is a fascinating oasis of tranquillity and peace lying within a big and noisy European city. Waters of the Danube river that divides Hungary’s capital into two historical regions – Buda and Pest keep this place separate from urban fuss. However, the island is connected to the city with Margaret Bridge in the south and Árpád Bridge in the north. It is, to say the least, the most beautiful park in the entire Budapest. Anyone can unwind here: comfort or shindig lovers, lovebirds, pensioners, sportspeople as well as admirers of scenic areas and architecture – nobody will leave disappointed.
History of the island
The island is just as rich in history as it is in beauty. Originally there were three islands on the Danube called “Painter,” “Bath” and “Rabbit.” the Rabbit Island was a royal property until the 13th century. In 1241 Hungary suffered through the Mongol invasion. The country turned into a wasteland, the royal family fled. However, King Béla IV promised that if he happened to return here, he would dedicate his daughter to serve God. The Horde left, the king came back, rebuilt the country and fulfilled the promise despite Margaret having been only nine years old. The father entrusted his daughter to the monastery he built on the island. Subsequently, she became a nun and the mother superior later on. She died quite young - at the age of 29. She was canonized and sainted only in 1943. After the war with the Ottoman Empire, a Turkish Pasha kept a harem on this island.
The island was transformed into a summer residence of the House of Habsburg in the 18th century; the infrastructure started to develop. A beautiful park and a villa were built. Joseph, I made the modern name “Margaret Island” official. And gradually, it became favorite recreation place for local citizens, even though the only way to get there was by boat.
Margaret Bridge was built in 1876, and then in 1901, a descent to the island was created. In 1908 city authorities bought the Habsburg residence. Then in 1950, it was decided to perform a river-training work on the Danube – that’s when all the islands were joined together. Árpád Bridge was built then as well; today it connects the northern part of the island and the city.
Sights to see on Margaret Island
Assuming that the island is just a green park with some benches and small tracks are considered an insult to such a gorgeous place like this one. Today this is a huge park area with a well-developed infrastructure.
- Island’s length is 2,5 km.
- Maximum width is 500 meters.
- Its total area is 96 hectares.
There are well-paved jogging tracks (5 km in length) all around the island, which locals love to use. The island also has a large number of bike paths, rentals, and shops. The park owns many playgrounds, picnic areas, cafes, and restaurants. The island offers perks such as a stadium, a tennis court, sports complexes, and a public pool for those who lead a healthy lifestyle.
Two hotels situated here own natural hot springs. One of them is called “Danubius Grand” that was built in 1872.
Let’s go through other attractions and recreation places on Margaret Island.
- Japanese garden. This is a fascinating stylized place that can captivate visitors with its coziness and beauty. Tress, plants, a pond with fish and turtles in it, rocks, waterfalls, small streams, and bridges – there are many things here. You can also find an outstandingly beautiful rosary located nearby.
- The “Music Well.” It is a small gazebo on a plinth built in 1936 which is also considered a replica of the Romanian well that was created by architect Péter Bodor. There is also the "Music Fountain" at park’s entrance where music is played, and light shows are performed that are especially pleasing after sunset.
- A mini zoo. Animals that were wounded or are unable to go back to their natural environment after rehabilitation live here. It is open from April 10 till October 23. Adult ticket costs 2800 forints, child one – 1900 forints (information is relevant for February 2018.)
- Open-air Palatinus Strand baths. It also includes ten pools (wave ones too) and health spa. The place is open throughout the year (this has been this way since 2017) from 8:00 till 20:00. The prices depend on day of the week and time and range between 2000–2800 forints (information is relevant for February 2018.)
- There is also an alley with 15 monuments dedicated to Hungarian cultural figures in the park.
- Ruins of Franciscan and Dominican 13th-century monasteries. The last one was the place where King’s daughter served God. You can also find Margaret’s grave among the remains of Dominican temple. Locals often bring flowers here.
- Saint Michael Chapel. It is older than monasteries mentioned before and was constructed in the 12th century. Near this place, archeologists found the oldest bell in Hungary during the excavations in 1914. In 1930–1931 the chapel was restored.
- Water Tower called Margitszigeti Víztorony. This beautiful building with a dome which has a Neptune statue on it used to supply the whole island with thermal waters. The tower is 57 meters high. It was built in 1912, then in 1938 a court, as well as an open-air theater (around 3000 seats), were opened here. Today it is not considered to be only an architectural monument, but a place where contemporary art exhibitions are held. There is also an observation deck on the top level where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Budapest. It is open daily from 11:00 till 19:00, full price ticket costs 600 forints (information is relevant for February 2018.)
How to get
The island is located on the Danube, in the center of Budapest, a bit north of the Hungarian Parliament Building. By the way, there is Hajógyári Island upriver right after Arpad Bridge where Sziget is held which is one the greatest European festivals. You can get around the island only on the public transport, and you can get to the island itself by ferry that follows route D12. However, it will be much more convenient to use bus or tram.
Trams that follow routes 4, 6 have stops on Margaret Bridge. Trams 1, 17, 19, 41 go through Arpad Bridge, but they only stop before it. Still, there are bus stops on Margaret Bridge that are included in 34, 106, 901, 918 routes. Bus 26 goes across the entire island. All the stops are obviously called Margit-sziget.