Biggest, Longest, Oldest
by Lucas Aresin
Humans have always prided themselves with their greatest achievements. We look up to those who did outstanding things and aspire to be like them. Because where would we be without them? Cities and capitals, in particular, reflect this.
Budapest is no different. The Hungarian capital holds its own set of records, and in honour of great people and human ingenuity, we're looking at five occasions where Budapest impresses with scale.
The Best Music Festival – Sziget
Established in 1993, Sziget (which is Hungarian for 'Island', as it is located on an island amidst the Danube's waters) is a site of pilgrimage for music fans and festival enthusiasts alike. Okay, 'best' music festival might be a tad bit subjective, but the festival did receive the European Festival Award as 'Best Major European Festival' in 2012 and in 2015. That's pretty amazing, isn't it?
Sziget offers almost any kind of music. Rock, punk, metal, pop, electronic, hip-hop, reggae, indie … if you heard it, it's probably on Sziget. More than 1,000 performances blast across the island every year.
But there's more. Sziget is truly international, with nearly 50% of all visitors being non-Hungarians, and there are so many other things to do when you're not at the concert. There's colour parties, dance performers, a confetti party, comedy, and more.
This year, the 'Island of Freedom' opens from the 9th to the 16th of August. And if you want to know more, read our own entry here.
The First Famous Ruin Pub – Szimpla Kert
Budapest is maybe the only city to have ruin pubs. These are bars, restaurants, and pubs that opened in run-down or partially damaged buildings and have played with that ragged charm ever since.
The first one to open was Pótkulcs, but the first one ever to gain immense success – was Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden). It was founded in 2001 and has a unique, quirky atmosphere. The interior design is unlike most pubs you've ever seen before (especially if you're not familiar with the concept of ruin pubs):
The walls lack their plaster in many places, there are paintings on the wall, the lamps don't match, the chairs differ widely, from colourful bar stools to rusty garden chairs. All in all, it is asymmetrical and seems unplanned, but it is lovely and cosy and worth every visit. If you want to explore more than just Szimpla we recommend our ruin pub tour!
The Second Oldest Subway Line – Millenium Underground
Overshadowed only by London's world famous tube, Budapest's Millenium Underground is the second oldest subway line in the EU. It opened back in 1896 when Hungary turned 1,000 years old.
Today, the line runs from Mexikói út (originally, it terminated at the Zoo) to Vörösmarty Square. Back then, it had 11 stops and was able to carry 35,000 people per day. That number has since tripled. Today, more than 100,000 people use it to get around.
Fun fact: One of the original cars still exists, however it is not in Hungary anymore. Today it can be found in the United States, at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine of all places. It truly traveled far.
The Biggest Functioning Synagogue – Dohány Street Synagogue
Yes, there are bigger synagogues than Dohány Street Synagogue, but this one is the biggest still functioning one in all of Europe. It is also referred to as 'The Great Synagogue', and the name really says it all.
Built in the 1850s, it's over 1950 square meters big and is able to accommodate 3,000 people. During the second world war, it was used as a shelter for the Jews of the city.
This synagogue holds much history, much more history than we can cover here. We suggest a guided tour through the interior and around the exterior. The building looks stunning by itself, but wait until you know all about it – it'll be even more impressive.
The Largest Thermal Bath Complex
Széchenyi Bath already looks stunning even before you step through its pearly gates (disclaimer: They're not really pearly) It is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe.
It was also the first thermal bath of Pest and comes with fifteen indoor pools, as well as saunas, steam rooms, aqua fitness opportunities, whirlpools, jets, a sun deck on top of the beautiful architecture, and much more, including massages and beauty services.
This place is so big that it doesn't matter if you want to swim lanes in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, just want to tan in the sun, or play a round of floating chess – you'll find whatever is right for you. Read more about the thermal baths of Budapest here.
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