10 Attractions to visit on Margaret Island

Budapest itinerary script guide - Margaret Island

Margaret Island is the green heart of Budapest with large green areas, flowery gardens 💐, old trees and attractions 🌳, and a mini-zoo 🦆. Also known as Margitsziget in Hungarian, this island lies in the middle of the Danube River and stretches between Árpád Bridge and Margaret Bridge (2.5km long and 500m wide).

The island history

Historical facts show that this island was inhabited by the Romans, since the Danube River was a border of the Roman empire.

In the Middle Ages, Margaret Island used to be called Rabbit Island because it was a royal hunting reserve. In the 13th century King Béla IV. founded a nunnery on the island after the Mongol Invasion and promise to send his daughter Margaret to it, if he was able to retake he could rebuild the country from this invasion. Faithful to his vow the King sent the 11-year old Princess Margaret to the convent and since then the island has bore her name.

József Palatine started a large landscaping project of the island at the beginning of the 19th century. Unfortunately, in 1838 during the Great Flood the whole island was under water (2.5 m deep) which destroyed several things on the island.

In 1901, the Margaret Bridge had been built (until that time, the island was only accessed by boat). Years later, the Margaret Island was declared a public park and several entrepreneurs chose the island to build hotels and other facilities.

The other bridge that allows access to the island (Árpád Bridge) was only built in 1950.

The island today

Nowadays, the island is a public park with a couple of hotels, sports facilities and other attractions. It’s a place for residents to relax and do some sport, and for tourists to visit all the attractions the island has to see.

Here I will share with you 10 attractions to visit on Margaret Island. You need to devote half a day or at least a couple of hours to explore and enjoy the serenity on this island. In different parts of the island, there are maps with the main attractions that help to understand the paths.

1. Musical Well (Zenélõ Kút) 

Located nearby the Japanese Garden, this musical well is an exact replica of one constructed for the Transylvanian town of Marosvásárhel (now Târgu Mureş, Romania). Was built between 1820 and 1822 by Péter Bodor, a Hungarian gadgeteer and mechanical engineer. The well has a round floor-plan, with two arched stairs on the sides, and a dome roof with a statue of Neptune at the top. It’s very well preserved as it was last renovated in 2014.

2. Mini Zoo (Vadaskert)

The Mini Zoo, also known as Pet Zoo, was founded in 1950 but it was completely renovated in 2002 when Budapest Zoo started to manage it.  In the 5.2 square meters park area, it’s possible to find deers, bunnies, water birds, ducks, owls, ponels and other animals. Most of the wild birds are rescued and brought to this zoo (they wouldn’t be unable to survive without human help).

3. Water Tower (Víztorony)

This 57-metres Water Tower is the oldest in Hungary and is located in the heart of the Margaret Island. The island’s growing and uninterrupted water supply could be solved by the establishment of this tower. The construction of the Water Tower was completed by 1911 and was designed by Vilmos Rezsõ in the Art Nouveau style. Dr. Szilárd Zielinski was the architect and he successfully implemented the dual function of both the water tower and the lookout tower. Between June and September is possible to visit the tower and enjoy the 360-degree panorama view of Budapest.

4. Japanese Garden (Japánkert)

The Japanese Garden 🎎 was founded in 1970 and the head gardener was George Magyar. He created a garden with bamboo groves, Japanese maples, dawn redwood, water lilies, cypresses, a small wooden bridge, a lake and a waterfall. In the middle of the lake you can find the ‘Sitting Girl’ statue made by Imre Csikász that is also known as the ‘Mermaid of Budapest’. The garden has been renewed and enriched with some new exotic plants in 2014.

5. Rose Garden (Rózsakert)

The Rose Garden 🌹, located right in the middle of the island, was created in 1927 with all types of roses then known having been planted on a 15 000 square meter area. As I went in March to Budapest, there were no roses in this garden (they were all growing).

As the garden had no roses I didn’t took a photo 🙈.

6. Light Garden (Fénykert)

Next to the Rose Garden is the Light Garden that has this name for being in the open sky, with low trees and because of the natural light that enters. All decorative elements in the garden, such as statues and benches, are painted in white. In this garden, we saw huge crows (really huge!).

7. Premonstratensian Church (Premontrei templom)

This Premonstratensian Church was dedicated to St. Michael and was built approximately in the 12th and 13th centuries in the Romanesque style but the sacristy and the chapel on the south side were only added in the 15th century. During the Turkish era, the building was destroyed but several parts of the church have remained intact. The bell of the church was discovered in 1914 and is one of the oldest in Hungary.

8. Dominican Convent (Domonkos kolostor)

The remains of the Dominican Convent from the 13th to the 16th centuries are the most notable ruins of the Margaret island. King Belá IV founded the convent after the Mongol invasion (1241-42) and assigned her daughter Margaret to the service of God at the age of eleven. In the middle of the ruins of this convent is the tomb of Princess Margaret. Hungary’s most prestigious noble families sent their daughters to this convent that had functioned as an elite school for girls.

9. Franciscan Church (Ferences templom)

These ruins of the Franciscan Church (just a tower and a wall) are located in the middle of the island and date back to the end of the 13th century. The buildings were destroyed during the Ottoman rule in the 16th century.

10. Musical Fountain (Szõkõkút)

First of all, when I went to the Margaret Island this fountain was under construction and I couldn’t see anything. This Musical Fountain was completely renovated in 2013 and has 1000 square meters water surface that makes it one of the biggest public fountains in Europe. Between May and October every hour the fountain has a music 🎵 and light show.

It was under construction with everything covered so I didn’t photograph 📷.

Here are the 10 most important attractions on the Margaret Island ❤️. If you travel to Budapest be sure to visit this island because it’s worth it. When I visited the island I chose to go from north to south but you can do the opposite.

If you want to know more about my trip to Budapest, check out all the posts here.

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