City guide

Óbuda

Photo : Balkányi László / We Love Budapest
Óbuda

Óbuda (‘Old Buda’), the historical hub of District III, lies north of Buda, served by the HÉV suburban rail line running parallel to the Danube. The territory covered by modern-day Óbuda is only a fragment of the former settlement that was united with Buda and Pest in 1873 to form Budapest – the modern-day parameters roughly correspond with the urbanised elements of the late 1800s. Long before then, this was a thriving Roman community of some 35,000 citizens, with a garrison, villas and a forum. Today you can see remains dotted around Óbuda, in particular, the impressive mosaics and amphitheatre ruins at Aquincum, another ruined amphitheatre free to enter beside the main thoroughfare of Bécsi út, and sundry stonework under display glass in the underpass at Flórián tér.

The other major junction is Szentlélek tér, a HÉV stop by Árpád Bridge. This square merges with another, Fő tér, focal point of Óbuda, lined with museums – including the Vasarely Museum – and centrepieced by a cobbled space where an ice rink and Christmas market are set up in December. In summer, open-air concerts at staged at the nearby Kobuci kert live venue. The so-called Roman embankment, Római fürdő, also comes alive from May to October, when modest open-air eateries line the waterfront, families gather, random musicians bash out a few tunes and passing boats augment the holiday atmosphere.

A steep climb up from Bécsi út, the ornate Kiscelli Museum is a hidden gem, with a random agenda of temporary exhibitions – for half of 2019, this involved doing up a cellar to resemble Budapest’s late-Communist punk club, the Fekete Lyuk.

Back down Bécsi út, Óbuda gets busy by day around Kolosy tér, with its popular produce market, surrounded by cafés and eateries, frequented by workers from the many nearby offices and small businesses.