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15th March is the most widely celebrated National Holiday in Hungary. The memory of the country’s war of independence is very much alive in the memories of the Hungarian people, just as it has been in the past 170 years. It is also a celebration of youth and Spring – no wonder there are plenty of “kokárdas” and exciting programs calling you for a visit during the long holiday weekend in Budapest.

If a film director would make a movie of the great revolution of Hungary, Count István Széchenyi would be the visioner of independence (a very similar character to Abraham Lincoln), Lajos Kossuth would be the President and General of the Army (George Washington), and Sándor Petőfi would play the revolutionary poet (Thomas Pane). The story would make big headlines today: a nation proud of the 850 years of having its own state, is waking up to fight against the oppressive Habsburg Monarchy for their freedom and independence.

The Revolution started on 15th March, 1848 with the flaming speech of Sándor Petőfi, the Poet of the Revolution, then with the help of Kossuth, the energetic political leader of the opposition and the conservative Count Széchenyi, it quickly escalated to a national scale. The newly recruited Hungarian National Army fought bravely for a year-and-a-half against the more powerful weaponry of the Austrians and later against the mighty Russian troops. The war of independence got finally beaten down in August 1849, yet, after nearly two decades of consolation, the memory of the glorious Revolution is very much alive in the memories of the Hungarians. The red, white and green striped rosette – or kokárda in Hungarian – you can see pinned on the coats of the Hungarian people in mid-March, represent the memory of the 1848/49 Revolution and their respect for its heroes.


Walking through the revolution

We recommend a walking tour in Budapest touching the sites that are connected to the Revolution of 1848/49. For a start, head to Kossuth square by 9.00 am where the red, white and green National Flag of Hungary will be drawn up at a colourful ceremony. The Music Band of the Hungarian Army will be playing marches which, together with the sight of the Hungarian hussars on horses, will offer a unique experience. You can also marvel the statue of Lajos Kossuth, the first non-noble Governor of Hungary at the square.

Kossuth Square

1055 Kossuth Lajos tér

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You should take a walk then through Kossuth street (or alternatively take tram No.2) to Március 15 square, fittingly named after the celebrated date, where you can have fresh pastry and a fittingly good coffee at the nearby Kuglóf Bakery and Café. You can also hop on one of the red buses of City Sightseeing’ Red Line on Március 15 square.

If you decide to walk on you will find Pilvax Lane, named after the famous Pilvax Café that used to be the centre of the 15th March events. Petőfi used to recite his poem, the National Song in public for the first time here – but sadly, the Pilvax doesn’t exist anymore. Some good food and tea, however, thankfully exists: try Pappa Roti Café with its spicy kitchen to get some energy for your walking tour in Budapest!

Petőfi Street is also worth a quick visit: the Landerer & Heckenast Printing Co. used to be based at the head of the street in the 19th century. Some 171 years ago Petőfi and his followers forced the Austrian owners to print one of his poems, the National Song and his revolutionary 12 Points, which became the mantra of the revolutionists in 1848.

Turn right at Astoria and onto Museum Boulevard (Múzeum körút), then in a short while you will reach the impressive Hungarian National Museum. Be advised that due to the official speeches that are scheduled for the late morning hours, the museum is open for guests only in the afternoon of 15th March. Nevertheless you must take a peek at the Museum Garden which is decorated with hundreds of tiny Hungarian flags and colourful paper flowers, made by children from the local schools.

Hungarian National Museum

1088 Budapest, Múzeum krt. 14–16.

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Breathtaking statues, exciting programs

As the events of 15th March are very close to the hearts of the Hungarian people, Budapest has a lot of connecting sites to offer. If you walk up from Kálvin Square through Kecskeméti Street, you will find young boys and girls dressed in 19th century clothes, making random performances imitating the events of 15th March, 1848. For a little lesson on Hungarian literature you may also visit the Petőfi Museum of Literature, right on the way. You can hop on one of the Red or Purple Line buses of City Sightseeing at Ferenciek Square, too. They will take you over Elisabeth Bridge to the Buda side. At Castle Garden you’ll find street vendors, but the puppet theatre and the nostalgic photo shooting should be entertaining as well.

Castle Garden Bazaar

1013 Budapest, Ybl Miklós tér 2-6.

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If you are visiting Budapest with your family, the Buda Castle is definitely worth a visit on 15th March. You will find several statues and museums there, as well as the traditional Market Whirlwind (Vásári Forgatag) where you can introduce old professions such as pottery, basketry and smithery to your children. Although rather crowded on this day, the Fisherman’s Bastion is a must-see as it offers the most beautiful panorama over the Pest side.

Fisherman’s Bastion

1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér

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Looking down from the Buda Castle you will see the Parliament, the dome of the Basilica and the Great Market Hall. But you should also take a look at the Chain Bridge from above, which has a strong connection to Count Széchenyi. This is the first steel bridge in Budapest that connects the historic Buda side and the Pest side across the river Danube. The Chain Bridge is the brainchild of Count Széchenyi – a.k.a. The Greatest Hungarian – who demanded equal rights for the non-noble people of Hungary, including the right to get over the bridge for free. The original bridge was bombed down by the Allies towards the end of WW2, but was rebuilt after the war and symbolically reopened in 1948.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

1051 Budapest, Széchenyi Lánchíd

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Climb down the stairs to Chain Bridge and walk through it to the Pest side. You will get to see a breathtaking panorama which – uniquely in the world – is part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites (or sights, rather). Make your way through József Attila Street towards Andrássy Avenue, where the Miniversum (next to the Opera) is waiting for you and your family. This exciting place is custom-made for children’s needs. During the Holiday weekend the Miniversum offers ten inventions of the most famous Hungarian inventors – including Rubik’s Cube and the dynamo of Ányos Jedlik – to discover.


1061 Budapest, Andrássy út 12.

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Photo: Pixabay

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