Csarnok is the name of the biggest market in Budapest. It is a beautiful 19th century cast iron building. The famous architect Gustave Eiffel, (well known for the Eiffel Tower in Paris), went to Budapest to design the East Station. The market was built at the same time, in the same style as the train station.
Csarnok Market is well-stiuated, just by the Danube river in Pest side, (the name Budapest comes from the join of Buda and Pest, the two big parts of the city separated by the Danube). It is easy to reach Csarnok, there are many buses and trams that stop near there.
The first thing you find when you arrive, is a sight of the wonderful building, the bridge, the river, and the Buda foot hills. As you enter the market, the great space overwhelms you. Though somewhat gray and not very bright, it teems with stalls that break the darkness with colorful vegetables and fruits, apples, peaches, strawberries… and bananas that come from South America or even the Canary Islands!
I think there are three big groups of stalls, the first one sells fruit and vegetables, where the colors abound ...but take care! These stalls sell different types of Hungarian peppers (or paprika), the little dark red ones, strong green ones which are bigger than the reds, and finally a lovely innocent light green pepper. Guess! Which one is the most spicy?.... The innocent light green may kill you! You don’t need to eat it, just hold the pepper in your hand to cut it, and touch your eyes or mouth with the same hand, and you will start to suffer its effects…just try it if you are brave!
The second group of stalls sells meat, milk, eggs and cheese. In this part of the market the smell is not so good, but you can buy fantastic meat, and also a vast array of Hungarian cheeses, very tasty and not dangerous.
Finally you find spirits, sweets and bread, these are my favorites. I love biscuits and cakes, and I could find there a wide range of them, very cheap. You can also buy strong popular Hungarian alcoholic drinks such as Palinka or Unicum. The bottles seem so rude, you can imagine they are very strong before you buy them. It doesn’t happen the same with the peppers!
As for the sound of the market? Csarnok is not a noisy place, which intrigued me, people don’t talk much to each other, when you go to a stall and there are people waiting, you find a perfect queue! Thus they avoid to ask the other persons whose the last one or whatever, with this system somehow they avoid communication!
This happens very often in Budapest, often gray and nostalgic, but always beautiful.