Margaret Island is a huge green park with promenades and benches, great for a date or a picnic. Here all the ingredients of a perfect day can be found and you can easily spend here a couple of hours.
Margaret Island is situated in the middle of the Danube between Arpad and Margaret bridges. With its parks, gardens, bistros, swimming pools is popular amongst locals and visitors too.
The Island is an artificial formation and the unit of three smaller islands. As part of river regulation works in the 19th century the separate islands were join together by constructions and the island was declared a public garden in 1908.
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The central place was the 'Isle of Rabbits' and people begun to call it Margaret Island after the daughter of King Bela IV, Margit (Margaret) who lived here went in convent and after her death steps were taken to procure her canonization as a saint.
The island has played an important part in the country's history, ever since the arrival of the Roman legions who built a fortress here. In medieval times convents and monasteries (for example the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin, a Franciscan church and a Premonstratensian chapel) were founded here and was a royal hunting reserve too. Unfortunately during the Ottoman wars the buildings were all destroyed...
In the 18th century the island was chosen to be the resort of the palatines, the highest dignitaries after the king and in the 19th century this green island became a popular holiday resort of Hungarian nobles, rich citizens, celebrities and artists who came here for calmness. The old Janos Arany wrote many touching final poems here under his favourite old oak trees.
The thermal springs was discovered 1867 and soon a whole spa complex was built. In 1900 the island was accessible from Margaret Bridge, and later more and more people arrived to annex here. Until the end of WWII the island was owned by a private company and maintenance was financed by entrace fees – but now the entry is totally free.
On summer days the pools and the riverbank are full of visitors. Tourists, families and companies have picnic here and summer nights the open aired theatre puts a lot of programs.
The musical fountain operates from spring to autumn, the water cascades to the sound of famous pop songs and classical pieces illuminated at nights. This is the largest musical fountain in the country and it is a popular meeting point.
Would you like to swim? There is Palatinus Swimming Pool built in the 1930's and fed by thermal springs. 'Pala' is the first baths in Budapest where visitors could bath outdoor. Or you can choose another place, the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Complex designed by the famous Hungarian swimmer and swimming gold medalist of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.
Don't miss to visit the ruins of churches and monasteries! Opposite the Palatinus you can stroll along the path of the Rose Garden, and near you can find the Gothic ruins of a Franciscan monastery from the 13th century.
The other important building, the Dominican Convent was constructed in the 13th century too and Princess Margaret lived here until her early death in 1271. Margaret was buried on the island together with her brother Stephen and father King Bela, a red marble slab marking the spot amongst the ruins excavated 1838.
In the middle of the island you can find a tall and amazing water tower built in Art Noveau style in 1911. The ornate and UNESCO-protected water tower was the first building in Hungary where reinforced concrete, a new technology at the time, was used.
The nearby small Saint Michael's Church is interesting too; in the 11th century a Romanesque chapel stood here, in some places the remains of the original building are still visible and here you can explore another monastery destroyed by the Ottomans.
At the northern tip of this magic island you can admire the Japanese Garden with its rock garden and artificial waterfall and – what a surprise! – another musical fountain built in the 19th century and brought to the island between the two world wars.