I remember stumbling into a cute, little garden in one of those hectic days of 2009, as a working Erasmus student. I felt like the place was asking me to stop and breathe. Honestly, I didn’t listen to the voice of the secret garden that time, as I was busy running from the office to the university. Luckily, I was going to have plenty of time in my 10 years in Budapest to experience the oldest gardens in Pest. Located between the Petőfi Literary Museum and the National Museum, the Károlyi Kert (kert means “garden”) is close to Csendes.
Budapest is rich in green spaces, making it ideal for families and dogs, but the Karólyi is something special. It gives me both shelter and a sense of safety, as it’s enclosed between high buildings; still, it’s in middle of the city, so I know that I am free to reach the rest of the world, buzzing a few meters away. The iron fence, all in green, is more friendly than confining, and the benches are dislocated in a way that grants some privacy. Here I can observe the change of the season, thanks to a variegated flora. I also like seeing what other people are doing here, it’s revealing of the local temper and habits.
Some history: this park was the backyard of Károlyi Palace, once home of the wealthy aristocratic family of Mihály Károlyi, a historically relevant Prime Minister (1918-19).
Romantic, historical and literary, I cannot recommend this garden enough.