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Introducing Elizabeth Square
Elizabeth Square, or Erzsébet tér in Hungarian, sits right in the centre of downtown Budapest. Smack dab in the city centre, it’s a large green space adjacent to Deák Ferenc tér, and just a few minutes’ walk from St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Part of the 5th District, Elizabeth Square marks the point where the 5th district, 6th district, and 7th district all meet. This makes it super central and convenient in terms of being a great area to stay in Budapest. It’s also excellent for getting around by public transit, sitting on the M1, M2, and M3, with easy access to Trams #2, #47 and #49.
Elizabeth Square History
The Elizabeth in the name is Queen Erzsébet, second-to-last queen of Hungary. More widely known by her nickname Sisi, Elizabeth was the wife of Hapsburg Emperor Franz Josef, who ruled from 1848 to 1916. She was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva at the age of 60.
Elizabeth Square has had a few different names throughout the years, and is currently back to its original name:
Erzsébet tér: 1858 to 1946
Stalin tér: 1946 to 1953
Engels tér: 1953 to 1990
Erzsébet tér: 1990 to present
From 1949 to to the late 80s, Erzsébet tér was home to the city’s bus terminal. When the bus terminal closed, it sat empty for some years, until the building was transformed into a cultural space. In the early aughts, the east side of the square was renovated into what it is today.
Elizabeth Square Today
These days, Elizabeth Square is a popular spot to hang out in the city, especially in the warmer months. The square is essentially divided into two parts, with the old bus terminal building acting as the divider.
The west side of the square is home to a lovely fountain and the Budapest Eye ferris wheel. There are large green areas where people spread a blanket and hang out.
The east side of the square is home to a reflecting pool where people dangle their feet into the water in the summers, and hang out for a chat.
Things to Do at Elizabeth Square
Built in 1880, the Danubius Fountain was actually Budapest’s first (fountain). It originally sat at Kalvin ter, inaugurated in 1883. The fountain was designed by Miklós Ybl, Hungary’s most important architect of the time (he was responsible for the Opera House). The sculptures were created by Leó Feszler.
The fountain was actually carved in a town near Budapest, and had to be transported to the capital, travelling over Margaret Bridge. It was so heavy some Budpaesters worried the bridge would collapse under the weight of the fountain!
The fountain’s four statues represent the four main rivers of Hungary: the Danube, Tisza, Drava and Sava.
In 1959, the statue was placed in its current location on Elizabeth Square. Prior to moving to its new home, it underwent a significant reconstruction due to damage incurred during WWII
The Eye has sat on Elizabeth Square since 2013, although it only recently became a year-round fixture. The draw behind the Eye, of course, is the view: from up atop the wheel, you can see quite the spectacular panorama of the city.
The Budapest Eye is open from 10:00 am daily, and closes at 23:00, 24:00, or 01:00, depending on the day. Adult tickets are HUF 2,700. There are options for groups, families, and special tickets and experiences, as well.
On the east side of the square is a pretty reflecting pool that’s a popular spot to meet friends and hang out in the summer. It’s not uncommon to see friends or couples sharing a bottle of champagne or wine while dangling their feet into the water to cool off on hot days.
Under the reflecting pool is Akvárium Klub, a cultural center/bar/music club that’s most popular when the weather is nice. Akvárium has a wide stepped terrace down to the main hall, which is filled with tables in nice weather. Grab a table and a drink, and enjoy the scene.
The former bus terminal building is now home to Fröccsterasz, named after the ubiquitous Fröccs drink (wine spritzer) you’ll see all over Budapest. Look for tumblers full of a rosé-like drink, and you’ll have found the rosé fröccs.
The building itself was designed by Nyiri Istvá, inspired by the Bauhaus School. It was completed in 1949.
Budapest Hotels Near Elizabeth Square
|Hotel||Guest Rating||Star Rating||Price & Availability||Distance from Elizabeth Square|
|Kempinski Hotel Corvinus||9.1/10||5-star||Check Now||1-minute walk|
|Ritz-Carlton Budapest||9.3/10||5-star||Check Now||1-minute walk|
|Hotel Zenit Budapest Palace||8.9/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Budapest Marriott Hotel||8.7/10||5-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|InterContinental Budapest||9.0/10||5-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge||8.7/10||5-star||Check Now||5-minute walk|
|Four Seasons Gresham Palace||9.3/10||5-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Hotel Moments Budapest||9.6/10||4-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Prestige Hotel Budapest||9.4/10||4-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Carat Boutique Hotel Budapest||8.7/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Callas House Budapest||9.3/10||4-star||Check Now||9-minute walk|
|La Prima Fashion Hotel||8.6/10||4-star||Check Now||8-minute walk|
|Mercure Budapest City Centre||8.7/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Aria Hotel by Library Collection||9.6/10||5-star||Check Now||4-minute walk|
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