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Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

Updated on October 29, 2014
A postcard of Budapest Zoo
A postcard of Budapest Zoo
The entrance of the zoo
The entrance of the zoo | Source

As maybe you have already read, I have a special connection to the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, so this is clearly one of my favourite places in the whole city. Now I decided to help you, fellow readers in my 18th hub to get to know this incredible place better where everyone can find something entertaining – I hope you will enjoy the trip!

Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is truly a must see attraction for tourists, no matter if they arrive alone or with their children, as the more than 2000 animals exhibited here offer great entertainment and a chance to learn for everyone, regardless of age. The animals here are from all over the world: no matter if you want to see creatures from the Arctic area, from rainforests or from the savannah, this huge variety will surely amaze you, not to mention the extensive green areas and little groves with beautiful plants in this ‘refreshing asylum’.

The Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens on map

The palm-house in the zoo
The palm-house in the zoo | Source

The history of Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Writing only a few sentences about the history of this place is not easy, as the Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the entire world.

Since it was opened in 1866 it witnessed loads of problems and historical events, it was even almost completely destroyed in World War II.

As I said, the zoo was opened in 1866 after loads of effort and planning. The city wanted a nice animal park for decades, so the opening was very much welcomed the by the public. At this time 11 buildings and about 500 animals were present in the zoo (most of the exhibited animals were native in the Carpathian-Basin).

Good to know:

The park gained its official present name in 2001: Fővárosi Állat- és Növénykert in Hungarian language.

In the following years it was developing fast, loads of new animals arrived to the zoo. Some of the animals were special gifts from great names, including Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Sadly, following these golden years the zoo was very much short on money, and because of this problem, one of the treasurers of the zoo even ordered rotten and moulded food by mistake, and this was followed by the death of many animals in the park.

In 1873 a very able man, Karoly Serak became the director of the zoo and during his work, the zoo started to flourish again. People started to prepare for the millennial celebrations of Hungary (the 1000th anniversary that Hungarians settled down in the Carpathian Basin).

A very old, stained photo about the reconstruction in the zoo
A very old, stained photo about the reconstruction in the zoo | Source
The Buffalo-house during the decades
The Buffalo-house during the decades

Another bunch of problems came in the new century and finally the zoo ended up declaring bankruptcy in 1907. After this a committee was set up by 12 famous people who decided to try to save the park and completely rebuild it. The restoration and rebuilding took place between 1909 and 1912, while the zoo was closed. Many animals were bought and 3 famous buildings were built during these years that despite of the many ordeals later are still present in the zoo:

· the animal houses by Karoly Kos;

· the India-inspired Elephant House with a lookout tower (provides beautiful view over the zoo and the City Park) by Kornel Neuschloss;

· the artificial Small and Great Rocks that provide home for popular animals nowadays too and also hosts the cave restaurant.

2 years later, when World War I broke out the zoo had to face another bunch of very serious problems. There was a huge shortage of fodder, no one could transport the essential sea water to the zoo for the animals of the aquarium and many of the newborn animals died as the doctors and all the men groomers were fighting in the war and there was no qualified workforce.

The park in ruins after World War II
The park in ruins after World War II

Between the 2 World Wars the zoo started to develop again, it became very popular and profitable once again.

But the disasters that the zoo had to face since its establishment seemed nothing when World War II broke out. The same problems reoccurred that were present in World War I, and some additional ones emerged: as Budapest was under siege during the war, the general line of the front ran through the zoo and it was heavily bombarded. Before the war more than 2500 animals were living in the park. After it, only 15 (!) were found alive.

After 1945 the reconstruction was very slow, as most of the country suffered serious damages and was short on money. But finally, slow, but continuous development started.

Today, the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden houses more than 2000 animals, and the same amount of plant species. Many of the trees in the park are several decades old; the oldest is from 1910, so it survived both of the wars.

Nowadays the park has more than 1 million visitors each year and it is a nature reserve. The place is very family-friendly as there are many playgrounds and entertaining programs for kids as well. And if you become a bit exhausted after hours of walks inside the park, there are many vendors and little shops where you can buy refreshments and snacks during your exploration.

Own pictures about the zoo

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Travel guides about Budapest

Seal-show in the zoo
Seal-show in the zoo

Must see attractions in the zoo

  • the birdhouse
  • the butterfly garden
  • the animal petting area (with sheep, goats, horses, pigs, hens and geese)
  • the elephant-house
  • the palm-house
  • the World of Apes
  • the cave cinema
  • the cave restaurant

Did you know?

The Zoo even hosts Musical Evenings during summer with light music concerts every Wednesday. Concerts usually start at 20:30 and offer great entertainment. Tickets are 3300 HUF for this event.

Famous attractions around the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Gardens

The zoo itself is within an area called City Park (Varosliget) that offers loads of entertainment. Apart from the zoo there is the Municipal Grand Circus (Fovarosi Nagycirkusz), the Vajdahunyad Castle, museums, the Heroes’ Square and the world-famous Gundel Restaurant and the Szechenyi Medicinal Thermal Baths (you can read more about Hungary’s another famous bath here) too. The lake in the park offers a great chance to go rowing or skating in the winter.

Sadly, after years of financial struggle, the Amusement Park (Vidampark) next to the Allatkert closed down in 2013.

Getting to the Zoo

  • take the M1 (yellow) underground and get off at Széchenyi fürdő (Szechenyi Thermal Bath) stop;
  • take the red trolley bus No.72 and get off at Állatkert stop
  • take the red trolley bus No. 75 or 79 and get off at Állatkerti út stop
  • take one of these blue buses: 20E, 30, 30A or 105 and get off at Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) stop
  • GPS-coordinates: 47.5187 / 19.0785.

Ticket prices

in 2014:

  • Adult: 2500 Ft
  • Child: 1800 Ft
  • Student: 1900 Ft
  • Retired: 2200 Ft
  • Family: 7300 Ft

Contatcs

  • Address: H-1146, Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 6-12., Budapest City Park (Városliget)
  • P.O. Box: H-1371, Budapest 5., Pf. 469.
  • Telephone: (+36-1) 273-4900

E-mail: click here

Opening hours

You can find my custom-made google docs about the opening times here, as I was unable to edit it here in a user-friendly format. No Google account is required to view.

Budapest Zoo on YouTube

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© Copyright 2012-2014, Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy (zsobig)

© 2012 Sophie

Comments on the topics

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    • zsobig profile imageAUTHOR

      Sophie 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks a lot, I hope you will be really able to visit it once, it is a great family program, as well as a nice and romantic walk for loving couples.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      5 years ago from London, UK

      Wow... 1 Million visitors a year is a lot - very famous. I hope I get to visit whenever I travel there. Thanks for sharing the history and for the photos.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 

      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      The zoo has certainly seen a lot of history. I'm amazed that it still exists in spite of all that has happened. An interesting read.

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