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City Park, Budapest

History

1806According to his last will and testament, Jakab Toporczi Horváth,  a lawyer was buried in the City Park, with only one Latin word inscribed on his gravestone: Fuit, i.e.:  Lived. Today this gravestone is the oldest object in the City Park.

1808The Beautifying Committee was set up on the initiative of Palatine Joseph with the priority aim of turning the City Park into a well-kept public park.

1810Leopold Grossinger sets up his carrousel and this becomes the first permanent amusement place in the City Park.

1811 - The first manned balloon flight of Hungary takes places in the City Park.

1813The Beautifying Committee announces an international competition for the design of the garden of the City Park. The winner of the competition is the German autodidact designer Heinrich Christian Nebbien, who at that time lived in Pest; his plans were only partially implemented.

1837Opening of the dancing saloon of Fülöp Tauber.

1838The setting up of the first permanent side-show.

1856János Scitovszky Archbishop of Esztergom consecrates the chapel erected in memory of Hermina Amália Habsburg Archduchess on the edge of the City Park based on the designs of architect József Hild.

1863The City Park is reorganized under the direction of Ármin Petz, Chief gardener.

1866Opening of the Zoological Garden.

1870The fun-fair moves to the city-side of Hermina Street, opposite to Bethesda Hospital.

1876The final route of Andrássy Road is finished and takes over from Városligeti allée the role of main road leading to the City park.

1877The test drillings and borings by Vilmos Zsigmondy, a mining engineer,explore thermal springs rich in minerals on the site presently occupied by Heroes’ Square.

1885The National Exhibition opens. Its only one building that still exists today is the Olof Palme House adorned by Zsolnay Majolica.

1889Opening of the first circus in the City Park under the directorship of Ede Wulff.

1893Opening of the building and first Ice Skating Rink of the City Park in the City park lake bed.

1894Opening of the building of the Wampetics (today Gundel) Restaurant.

1895Opening of the Kunsthalle (Hall of Arts) (architects: Albert Schikedanz – Fülöp Herzog).

1896With the extension of the territory of the National Exhibition the Millennium Exhibition is opened in more than 200 halls and next to it the Ős-Budavára (Ancient Buda Castle) entertainment district. The Millennium Underground is finished.

1897Opening of the Commercial Museum in the building of the Industrial Hall.

1899The Hungarian Royal Transport Museum opens in the Transport Hall of the Millennium Exhibition designed by Ferenc Pfaff.

1905The collection of the Ethnographic Storage, the predecessor of the present Museum of Ethnography is placed in the building of the Industrial Hall.

1906The construction of the Museum of Fine Arts designed by Albert Schikedanz and Fülöp Herczog completed. The Millennium Monument is inaugurated on Heroes’ Square (architect: Albert Schikedanz, sculpture: György Zala).

1908Opening of the exhibition of the Museum of Agriculture in the Vajdahunyad Castle rebuilt to its permanent form.

1909The Art Nouveau building of the City Park Theatre, the work of László Vágó is inaugurated on the corner of the present Dózsa György Street and Ajtósi Dürer allée

1912The English Park, the predecessor of the Amusement Park opens on the place of Ős-Budavára. Its main amusements are the Sikló (Funicular), the American elevated railway and the Egyptian village. The renewed Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden enlarged based on the designs of Károly Kós, Dezső Zrumeczky and Kornél Neuschloss is reopened.

1913The Széchenyi Bath built on the thermal springs of the well of Vilmos Zsigmondy and designed by Győző Czigler, Ede Dvorzak and Kálmán Gerster is opened. The French garden in front of the Bath is completed according to the designs of Károly Räde Károly Chief gardener of Budapest.

1925The first Budapest International Fair in the City Park.

1927The addition to the Széchenyi Bath designed by Imre Francsek is received.

1929The Memorial Stone of the National Heroes is inaugurated on Heroes’ Square. It is replaced by a new stone block in 1956.

1931The Neo-Roman building of the Magna Domina Hungarorum or in its more well-known name Regnum Marianum Church on Dózsa György Street, built according to the designs of Iván Kotsis, is consecrated.

1938Heroes’ Square is the site of the Saint Steven Memorial Year and of the 34th Eucharistic World Congress and to honour this occasion it is given a new decorative pavement designed by Gyula Petrovácz.

1941On Heroes’ Square a delegation from the Soviet Union returns the army flags taken in 1848-49 back to Hungary.

1944-1945The Zoo was nearly completely destroyed during the bombing of the Western railway station. The Museum of Fine Arts, the Hall of Arts, the Millennium Memorial and the Transport Museum also suffered serious damage. The Industrial Hall was completely destroyed.

1950Nationalization of the English Park and its integration with the fun park; the grifters disappear from the City Park for good.

1951The buildings of the City Park Theatre and of Magna Domina Hungarorum Church are demolished; the 850 meter long, 85 metre wide "Procession Square” is established in their place as the venue for great national events.

1956On October 23 the crowd gathered on the square topple the statue of Stalin by Sándor Mikus unveiled in 1951. After the suppression of the revolution the base of the statue was turned into a podium, the statue was not restored.

1965Not far from the Hall of Arts the statue of Lenin, a work of art by Pál Pátzay, is unveiled in Procession Square. After an international ideas competition Miklós Hófer and his colleagues are entrusted with the design work for the new National Theatre building.

1966The Museum of Transport that suffered serious damage in World War II is reopened in its partly restored and enlarged building.

1972The Budapest International Fair finally moves out of the City Park. Most of the buildings are demolished, landscaping is made on their sites. During the work lasting until 1978 the Királydomb (Hill of Kings) is built out of the debris of the buildings and from the earth excavated during the construction works.

1975The present building of the Budapest Grand Circus, the only one stone circus in Central Europe is opened.

1985The Petőfi Hall Programme centre is opened in the new building of the Industrial Hall reconstructed according to the designs of Judit Tihanyi and György Halmos giving place to the Permanent Exhibition of History of Aviation and Astronautics of the Transport Museum on the first floor.

1990After the change in the political system the statues in Procession Square are  moved to the Memento Park. Of the pedestal of the Memorial of the Hungarian Soviet Republic the memorial place of the church that once stood there is established.

1994The total restoration of the Hall of Arts is finished.

1996The complete rehabilitation of the Millennium Memorial is finished by the time of the Mille Centenary celebrations.

2004On the occasion of the accession of Hungary to the European Union the Time Wheel statue (designers: János Herner – István Janáky, jr.) is unveiled in Procession Square).

2006The central Monument of the 1956’ Revolution is unveiled in Felvonulási Square, on the site previously occupied by the statue of Stalin. (Designers: i-ypszilon Design Team: Tamás Emődi-Kiss, Katalin György, Csaba Horváth, Tamás Papp.) On this occasion the square is given the name Ötvenhatosok Square (Square of ’56).

2012The complete reconstruction of the Ice Skating Rink is finished.

2013The Amusement Park is closed for good, its site is given to the Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden.

 

The City Park in the urban texture of Budapest

Main access routes

Andrássy Road – since 1876 it has been the main access road from the City centre to the City Park. The road has detached buildings on it by Kodály Körönd including several diplomatic institutions, universities and museums.

City Park allée – before the construction of Andrássy Road this was the main access road of the City Park as a continuation of Király Street. Detached villas stand on it. This allée is the border line of districts VI and VII.

Dózsa György Street – a busy, six lane road bordering the City Park from the West with residential houses and office buildings in an unbroken row.

Ajtósi Dürer Avenue – a busy, six lane road with several educational institutions in an unbroken row.

Stefánia –  19th century promenade with detached villas, studios and representative buildings. Important public transport, pedestrian and bicycle connection to Istvánmező.

Hermina street – “Cultural main road of Zugló” with villas from the 19th-20th centuries and two Roman Catholic churches.

Entrance section of the M3 – motorway link developed in the 1970s and providing access to the M3 motorway from the city centre via Kós Károly promenade.

Rail system of the Western railway station – the City Park is bordered from the North by railway tracks leading to the Western railway station.

 

City parts of the area

District VI (Terézváros) – its City Park section mainly has detached residential houses on it. The smaller part is composed of an unbroken row of buildings.

District VII (Erzsébetváros) – except for the Városligeti allée it is a densely built-up urban district primarily with a residential function.

District VII (Erzsébetváros) – except for the Városligeti allée it is a densely built-up urban district primarily with a residential function.

District XIV (Zugló), Istvánmező – with detached, representative buildings around Stefánia. The sports complex established around Puskás Ferenc Stadium and Papp László Budapest Arena is an important element of this city part and determines the functionality of the City Park.

 

Institutional system of the City Park

Institutions

Museum of Fine Arts

Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden

Grand Circus of Budapest

Széchenyi Bath

Petőfi Hall

Hermina Chapel

Hungarian Technical and Transport Museum

Olof Palme House – House of Hungarian Artists

Vajdahunyad Castle – Hungarian Agricultural Museum

Ice Skating Rink of City Park

Hall of Arts (Műcsarnok)

 

Service and Commercial units

Robinson Restaurant

Bagolyvár Restaurant

Gundel Restaurant

Saddle (Nyereg)

Beer tent

Pántlika Bistro

Wagon

My Garden

 

Main monuments, statues

Millennium Monument, Heroes’ Square

Memorial Stone of Heroes

Archer

Ignác Alpár

Statue of Anonymous

Agricultural Pantheon

Sir Winston Churchill

George Washington

Ronald Reagan

Regnum Marianum Memorial Cross

Monument of the Revolution of 56

Time Wheel

 

Historic and historical park

The City Park established in the 1810s was the first urban public park in the world that was specifically created for public use on its own territory of the city, managed and financed by the city. The area has an important and valuable historical plant population the preservation and restoration of which is a main priority of the Liget Budapest project. During the 19th-20th centuries the historical park structure was all but destroyed in several phases as a result of the creation of the greater part of the park. Its partial restoration within the framework of the project is a task for the near future. As a result of the ideas competition preceding this design competition and announced in 2013 for the formation of the environment, location and urban development it can be stated that the City Park is a special urban public park that comprises a certain historical coverage. The Liget Budapest project will continue this tradition and will restore the historical area of the Park with the transformation of  Ötvenhatosok Square and with the restoration of the whole green area while preserving its values.

 

Historical importance, World Heritage rank

The City Park is a site of symbolic importance in Hungarian national history, and it is a significant recreational and programme venue for modern Budapest. The National Exhibition organized here in 1885 and the Millennium Exhibition held in 1896 constitute outstanding events in the modern history of Hungary. Heroes’ Square, built at the end of the 19th century, also bore witness to significant events, while the adjoining Ötvenhatosok Square was the scene of one of the most important events of the 1956 revolution; the pulling down of Stalin’s statue. Until the 1970s the Budapest International Fair was organized in the City Park and was regarded as a window to the world for the countries belonging to the socialist bloc. Today the City Park and its squares provide venues for several programmes and events of national importance while its institutions communicate the remarkable values of Hungary not only to Hungarian citizens but also to the foreign guests visiting Hungary.

Since 1965 the whole territory of the City Park has been a protected site of historical monumental significance.

Since 2002 Andrássy Road and Heroes’ Square (together with the buildings of the Hall of Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts) have been World Heritage sites, the whole territory of the City Park is regarded as a protective zone of the World Heritage site.

Since 2012 Heroes’ Square has been a National Memorial Site “having decisive importance in the nation’s history, playing an outstanding role in the self-image of the nation due to its ability to strengthen the sense of belonging together and identity of the Hungarians, as well as of the Hungarian and other nationalities living on the territory of the country, and can be the scene of commemorations of national importance organized by the state and declared by the force of law a national memorial site by the Parliament  ” (Act CXLIX of 2011).

 

Urban green surface

The City Park is one of the dominant green areas of Budapest and has vital importance as a venue for the spending of leisure time and recreational activities of the capital’s residents.

The continuous green area of the City Park plays an important role in the processing of carbon dioxide, in the oxygen supply, in the binding down of flying dust and the adherent harmful materials, and in the enrichment of the humidity of the air. From this point of view the older trees with bigger crowns play an especially significant role.

After Margaret Island this is the second most frequently visited park in the capital, and every year approximately 4 million people come to visit the institutions and the green areas.

However, the circle of people using the park as a venue for everyday recreation demonstrates a declining tendency in parallel with the deterioration of the park. Compared to the former data the share of passive recreation is increasing and the time spent in the park is decreasing – these tendencies are mainly due to the aforementioned deteriorating condition of the park.

 

All-the-year round recreation destination

The City Park is an important leisure time destination for the residents living in the neighbourhood and in Budapest. Primarily owing to the lack of other opportunities three quarters of the people who come here choose passive recreation: they walk, walk their dogs, have picnics or enjoy the sun. 10% of the visitors use the playground (school-age children, children with families). The rest of the visitors actively use the infrastructure of the park, which, however, is only partially developed: while a ground for extreme sports and a football field can be found in the park there is no running track for joggers. The green area of the park provides opportunities for recreation and sports, for individuals and teams, but the physical conditions are only partly or not at all provided. In winter the 15 thousand square-metre ice surface of the City Park Skating Rink is an important option, the most important target for the capital’s skaters.

 

Programmes

The City Park is traditionally a central programme venue. Of the political and cultural events with historical importance the National Exhibition in 1885, the Millennium Exhibition held in 1896, as well as the Budapest International Fair organized here between 1925-1972 were outstanding. Of the important one-time or regular events mention must be made of the Eucharistic World Congress held in 1938 and the mass of Pope John Paul II in Heroes’ Square in 1991, as well as the popular festivities and processions organized in the Ötvenhatosok Square between 1951 and 1989.

Nowadays the park also provides the venue for a number of cultural events and festivals. Our national holidays, mainly on national holidays, on 1 May and 20 August. Since 2008 the National Gallop race has been organized in Heroes’ Square at the end of each summer. Of the sports events regularly held in the City Park the running competitions are also important.

In addition to the above-mentioned public events, the City Park often provides the venue for political, business or private programmes. In this respect, the outstanding venues are the Museum of Fine Arts, the Széchényi Bath and the Vajdahunyad Castle. The Jáki Chapel, the most popular venue for weddings in Budapest, is located in the last of these buildings.

Several special programme sites can be found in the City Park. For example the Garden of the Blind to be visited only by the visually impaired, or the traffic park built specifically for children in front of the Hungarian Technical and Transport Museum.

 

Tourist destination

The City Park is still the number one destination point of foreign and domestic tourism in Budapest. Tourists from abroad mainly come here to visit Heroes’ Square, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Széchenyi Bath, while the Hungarian visitors are mostly attracted by the Museum of Fine Arts, by the Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden mainly visited by school groups and families, and by the Hungarian Technical and Transport Museum. Besides this, the other cultural and museum institutions of the area, the historical and artistic memories, as well as the natural and recreational endowments also add to the attraction  of the Park.

However, as far as tourism is concerned the City Park has a lot of shortcomings. The touristic infrastructure is underdeveloped and deficient; there are significant hiatuses both in the field of transport, services and retail trade. On top of this there is a lack of private accommodation in the area. The Liget Budapest project will compensate for most of these deficiencies and will stimulate major private investment.

 

Transport

Today the territory of the City Park is bordered by transport routes conducting great transit traffic (Dózsa György Street, Ajtósi Dürer allée) and by roads mainly of local importance carrying a smaller traffic volume (Hermina Street). Of the routes crossing the territory of the park public traffic is allowed on the Állatkerti ring road, on the Városligeti ring road and on Kós Károly promenade. Kós Károly promenade is also an important axis in the East-West direction traffic of Budapest since it is the junction point of Andrássy Road leading to the Downtown and of Hungária boulevard, i.e. of the outer ring road, as well as of the M3 motorway leading to the Eastern part of the country. The other roads of the inner part of the City Park mainly serve pedestrian and bicycle traffic and public transport.

In cooperation with the Centre for Budapest Transport the whole automobile traffic and public transport concept of the City Park will be completely revised within the framework of the Liget Budapest project in the near future. The most important point to be studied is how the traffic can be reduced, or eventually completely closed on Kós Károly promenade, which cuts the City Park into two parts, and on the multi-lane roads separating Heroes’ Square from the surrounding buildings. The plans also envisage the replacement by electric buses of the current illogical and out-dated trolley bus public transport system of the City Park. The plans also contain the reconsideration of the other public transport links (millennium underground, buses) and the establishment of a possible new underground stop. The envisaged moving walkway could provide a public transport connection to the new museum buildings planned in Dózsa György Street and to the deep garages to be built here.

Within the framework of the Liget Budapest project the number of the excessively wide and densely built asphalt paved traffic routes currently leading through the City Park will be rationalized in order to expand the  green area.

Besides the above the City Park is affected by two important elements of the transport development plan of Budapest. Several stations of the BuBi public bicycle network to be implemented in 2014 will be established in streets leading to the City Park, therefore the growth of bicycle traffic can be expected. According to the medium term plans the whole area of the City Park will be included in the entrance fee zone to be introduced after 2016 the border line of which will be Hermina Street.

 

Climate, weather

Budapest is situated in the temperate zone with a Continental climate. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of – 1.6 °C, while the hottest month is July with an average temperature around 21°C. The yearly average temperature is 11.0°C. Until now the highest temperature (40.7 °C) was recorded on 20 July, 2007, while the lowest one (-25.6 °C) was recorded on 13 January, 1987.

The average annual precipitation volume in Budapest is 533 mm. In early summer and late autumn we have two months with more rain, while from mid-winter until early spring and in early autumn the weather is drier. The least precipitation can be expected in February-March, and the biggest volume of rain – about twice as much – falls in May-June.

In Budapest the annual average number of sunshine hours is 1,930 showing great variance from year to year. A typical cycle can be observed in the period of sunshine hours over the year, the maximum is in the summer months (250-270 hours per month), while the minimum is in the period between November-January (50-70 hour per month).

Thanks to the Carpathian Mountains and the Transdanubian mountain ranges Budapest is protected from wind. The prevailing wind direction is North-West. The autumn season is often windless, which contributes to the formation of fog.

 

Archaeology

Since historically the City Park was an uninhabited area no significant archaeological remains can be expected to be found on the building sites. The underground remains of the Magna Domina Hungarorum (more commonly Regnum Marianum) church demolished in 1951 are outside the present design area, to the north of the crossing of Dvorak promenade and Dózsa György Street. The purpose is to establish a dignified memorial place here in the later stage of the project.