From Vörösmarty ter to Vámház krt.
Once two separate streets which were joined at the beginning of the 18th century, Vaci street still has two distinct characters. Today, part of the southern section is open to traffic, while the northern end has been pedestrianized and has long been a popular commercial center. Most of the buildings lining the street date from the 19th and early 20th centuries. More recently however, modern department stores, banks and shopping arcades have sprung up among the older original buildings…No. 13 is the oldest building on Vaci street and was built in 1805. In contrast the postmodern Fontana Department Store at no. 16 was built in 1984. (From: DK Eyewitness Travel)
Váci Street in downtown Budapest is one of the world’s most attractive pedestrian shopping streets not only according to Hungarians. Pest’s famous Váci utca reached the 7th spot among 16 pedestrian shopping streets that participated in a contest in 2008 teh aim of which was to rank the streets by comparing several factors including: atmosphere, attractiveness, cleanliness and customer service in shops. Váci street received 76 points out of 100 outrunning well-known pedestrian streets of Paris, Amsterdam, and Milan. So if you visit Budapest do take a walk along this famous downtown street of Budapest.
A Bit of Váci Street History
In the medieval era the boundary of the city stretched there, along Deák Ferenc utca was the city wall. The predecessor of today’s Váci street lead the Váci gate which stood on today’s Vörösmarty Square. You can still see the remains of the gate at the beginning of the street a few steps from Vörösmarty Square. White stones line the outline of the original gate bastion and a tablet on the wall shows what the edfice looked like. Váci utca became a main thoroughfare of Pest in the 18th century and you’ll find beautiful mansions from this era. Until the 1880-ies the main Promenade of Pest (Korzó) was the walkway lining the Danube between Eötvös Square and the Vigadó Square. By the turn of the 19th-20th centuries Váci utca took over the role of shopping street from Király utca and the role of promenade fro the Korzó on the Danube embankment. Most of the protected buildings in Vaci street date from this period. A bit more history: the building at at No. 9 was an inn that József Hild the renowned architecture of the era rebuilt and where the 11-year old Mozart gave a concert.
How to Explore Váci Street?
The esplanade is a bit long from end to end but it’s broken up by tiny sqaures (Kristóf tér, Szervita tér), and small passages. The northern part of the street is the more touristy part which is teeming with people during summer and before Christmas during the Christmas fair on Vörösmarty Square. In early spring or late autumn the street is more peaceful. I recommend to start from Vörösmarty tér and walk down to the Central Market Hall. Before strating your exploration of Váci utca you can have a cup of cafe with a slice of cake in the famous Gerbeaud Confetionery on Vörösmarty tér. Just a few steps from the white marble statue of poet Mihály Vörösmarty you’ll be among promenading tourists on Váci utca. Terraced cafes line both sides of the street. Váci utca is geared towards tourists so the shops and cafes are a bit overpriced. The palette of shops is varied besides souvenir shops, you’ll find folklore items, wine shops, and exclusive designer shops like Furla or La Nerella. There’s a Marks & Spencer too. For booklovers the Libri Studium offers a wide choice of English and other foreign language literature. The building where the Pesti Színház operates today was onece an inn. The Philantia flower shop boasts a beautiful sculpeted facade and the house next to it is a fine example of secessionist architecture adorned with Zsolnay ceramics. The oldest building of Budapest stands at the corner of Régiposta utca a small sidestreet at the Hermes Fountain. One of the first McDonalds and McCafe-s in Budapest operates in Régiposta street too. At the former Taverna Hotel you reach the south part of Vaci utca which has a more relaxed atmoshpere and less crowd. Go down the the stairs to the undergound passage where an exhibiitons of posters from old photos provide a glimpse into the history of Váci street. Coming up from the undrground passage you’ll find the Budapest Gallery at Szabadsajtó utca 5 an exhibition hall of modern art. At the corner building at Váci utca 43 a bronze plaque commemorates that Charles XII king of Sweden took a rest there during its 14-day trip from Turkey to his home country. On the corner of Nyári Pál utca stands the Church of Saint Michael (Belvárosi Szent Mihály templom) a baroque temple from the middle of the 18. century. The church hosts the Baroque Music Festival in autumn. Due to its central location and fame Váci utca offers a range of hotels both in the street and in the close vicinity. There are a couple of good hostels in and around Vaci Street like the 2nighthome Hostel. The street is packed with restaurants, cafes and bars though most of them are overpriced which is not justified by the quality of meal or services. I would pick one resturant though, it’s called Babel and is in the southern section of Vaci street at the corner of Szarka utca. Babel is an elegant high-end restuarant with uncomplicated menu along the lines of Hungarian cuisine, great wine list and polite, professional service. The polished black interior reflects urban elegance There’s different menu for lunch that is served between 12.00-17.00 and at dinner you can choose from 3 menus: dinner a la carte, babel international menu, and Hungarian contemporary menu. Lunch dishes are less expensive (950-2950) HUF.
Related Articles (From: budapest-tourist-guide.com)
If you are an older visitor to Budapest or a more timid traveler, you will find your home on Vaci utca. Frankly, it is quite pretty. This cobblestone pedestrian pathway, and later street, travels relatively north and south following the lines of the Danube. On it you will find tons of restaurants, bars and shopping stores, from “Hungarian” souvenir shops to high end clothing. Some familiar names can be found such as McDonalds, Burger King, H&M and Gucci. You’ll also be among a myriad of other tourists being offered romantic cruses on the Danube or Hop, Hop off city tours. Everything here is overpriced. You’ll pay more for bottled water and beer, as well as food and trinkets.