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„Ecseri” Flea Market Budapest (Budapest)

TREASURE, TRASH AND TRINKETS AT ECSERI FLEA MARKET, Budapest. The largest second-hand market in Budapest, the flea market on Nagykôrösi Road, may be located some distance from the centre of town and yet most tourists find the journey out there well worth the time. Known by the locals simply as the “Ecseri”, the bustling market is an experience not only for those with a fixed aim but also for those who just want to do some “stall shopping”.


The largest second-hand market in Budapest, the flea market on Nagykôrösi Road, may be located some distance from the centre of town and yet most tourists find the journey out there well worth the time. Known by the locals simply as the “Ecseri”, the bustling market is an experience not only for those with a fixed aim but also for those who just want to do some “stall shopping”.

After all, it is great fun to browse through so many bits and pieces in the hope of turning up the occasional gem: from trinkets to Art Nouveau furniture, from black and white greetings card to a silver fob watch, from an early camera to paintings of all schools and qualities, the Ecseri has it all. And more! Antiques, violins, gramophones, books, porcelain, old fashioned irons, rugs and carpets, old soda siphons, pens, dinner services, medals, militaria, lace... This is a cavalcade of old and new, the superb and the showy, the glorious and the kitsch. Old bronze pestles and mortars, bottles with marble stoppers, lead soldiers and military honours speak of bygone ages. No wonder then that the visitor sometimes feels as though time has stood still for a few decades.

The ramshackle market with absolutely no “extras” is a world away from the modern, glitzy, air-conditioned shopping malls of today. The Ecseri takes shopping to a different level where passion is part of the story. Sellers are often eager to strike up a conversation with potential buyers, extolling – at length – the virtues of their wares and spicing up bargaining with raised voice and argument.

The visitor can also claim that this is not merely a shopping expedition but culture too. After all, the variety of ancient wooden troughs, copper watering cans and 100-year-old furniture on display can be likened to a trip around an open-air ethnographical museum! Gramophones, porcelain dolls and teddy bears are jammed in between chests of drawers, armchairs and oil paintings. Stands packed cheek by jowl with each other and overflowing with knick-knacks of every conceivable kind give one the sense of wandering an oriental bazaar.

Every one of the items on sale has its own story.

And perhaps this very fact gives the market its remarkable and sometimes mystical air. There is plenty of jewellery of the sort that grandmother probably wore for large family get-togethers, dinner services into which the Sunday soup was ladled year after year, and violins with strings worn thin by generations of youthful Menuhin wannabes.

Although most items won’t set you back more than a few thousand forints at most, there are some valuable rarities out there too. However, sorting the 24-carat gold from fool’s gold requires not only a good eye but some considerable luck too. A trip to the flea market will almost certainly mean you’ll come across a painting, piece of porcelain or some other antique which would look really good at home and be a pleasurable souvenir of Budapest.

But don’t forget to bargain, because this is all part of the game! Tip: before getting down to negotiations, decide the maximum price you’ll pay and stick to it. You should never forget that most dealers make their living selling to tourists... The Ecseri is a treasure trove of objects for serious collectors and browsers alike because it is a gathering point for items from all over the Carpathian Basin including sub-Carpathia, Transylvania, Upper Hungary and the Vajdaság.

Moving further afield, some traders travel all the way from Belgium and France, but mixed among the stalls are Africans too selling antique silver. But Ecseri is not only about antiques because there are also stallholders selling leather jackets and jeans at prices that put the downtown shops to shame. So whether you come to buy or to browse, you’ll not be disappointed by what you find here. And if you find you really don’t need anything today, don’t leave empty handed! They do say the local lángos (fried dough smothered in sour cream, cheese and other toppings) is the best in town.

„Ecseri” Flea Market

1194 Budapest, Nagykôrösi út 156, Mon–Fri: 8 am–4 pm, Sat: 8 am–3 pmAccess: tram 4 or 6 from Blaha Lujza Square to Boráros Square, and then bus 54 to the market

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