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Margaret Island

Margaret Island (22)

This small island located in the middle of the river Danube is one of Budapest’s most beautiful parks. The Romans were the first to develop it and built various forts and villas here. Later, during the Middle Ages, several religious orders built churches and cloisters too. One of the most noteworthy is the ´Dominican Cloister` built in 1255 by King Béla IV after he promised to erect a convent and send his daughter Margaret there if he was victorious against the Tartars. So this is where Margaret came to find herself at the very young age of nine, and is where she stayed until her death. As you can imagine, the island gets its name from her. 

Later, during the Ottoman occupation, the temples were converted into harems and eventually destroyed. Because of this, the island was practically abandoned until the year 1796 when the Hapsburgs built a grand mansion here, surrounded by a huge English garden. You will find here today over ten-thousand trees, thanks to the work of the family’s gardeners. 

However, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that this area became a public park. In 1900 a bridge connecting it to the mainland was built and crossing by boat stopped being the only way to access the island.

Nowadays, the park is home to a theatre, zoo, Japanese garden and Olympic swimming pool, built in honour of the swimming champion Alfréd Hajós. It is also worth visiting the ´Water Tower` which offers great views, as well as the ´Centenary Monument`, erected to commemorate the union of Buda and Pest. Also remember to visit ´Palatinus`, an open air swimming pool complex with slides, beaches and a wide lawn. This centre makes use of the island’s thermal springs and is a place where the city’s inhabitants often come to spend the day.  

Its almost one hundred hectares and lack of cars make ´Margaret Island` an ideal place if you are looking for peace and quiet. Here you are free to walk among the ancient chestnut trees, through the English, Japanese and French style gardens, do sport, freshen up at one of the fountains or ride your bike, it really is a place of relaxation where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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