Margaret Island is a 225-acre spit of silt that bubbled up eons ago on the Danube River in the middle of what is now Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Called Margit-sziget in Hungarian, it is named after Margit, the beautiful daughter of a 13th century king, Bela IV. The island is shaped like an art nouveau teardrop, an emerald jewel set in a river bordered on either side by the bustling city.
Among the island’s century-old oaks and poplars are the ruins of a Dominican convent where the princess lived. Margit—known to the world as St. Margaret of Hungary—became a legend here, beloved and pitied. She was offered to God by his father, after the mongols’s imvasion, when Hungary was almost totally devastated. Margit was just 28 when she passed away. Her grave is inside the ruined walls of the monastery. The other monastery of Margaret Island belonged to the Hungarian Templars, before went into the posession of the Franciscan order. Next to them stands the St. Michael chapel, a popular wedding place today.
Margaret Island became a public park in the 19th century. When thermal spring was found on the island, the Grand Hotel Thermal – a famous hotel of the capital – was built by the design of Miklós Ybl. The island gives home today to sport facilities too: to the Palatinus beach, to tennis courts and to the Hajós Alfréd Swimming Pool, where the multiple olimpic and world champion water polo team of Hungary used to train, and which serve as scenes of international tournaments and championships.
Margaret Island’s other notable sights are the Japanese garden and fishpond, botanical gardens, the still operating Music Well and Fountain from the 19th century,a tiny zoo, and the art nouveau style, 57 m high Water Tower, which is a protected UNESCO site. On summer time there are open air concert, operas and shows are held also on the island’s open air theater. The Musical Fountain is one of the most well known attractions on the island. The fountain’s pool is quite large – one of Europe’s largest – at 35 m across and containing 400 m³ of water. At showtime, the water shoots 10m into the air in time with the music, a mixture of classical and pop music, and the plumes of water and water vapour are illuminated by alternating coloureds lights at night, so it’s hard to miss when its performing.
The 5,5 km long jogging trail around Margaret Island has everything that a great running route needs: a scenic, shaded, waterside trail around a popular park, with views across the Danube. The whole island is a protected pedestrian zone, no car allowed in. The buses operating are electric, and people can hire bike oor riksha too. To have picnicm or just relaxing on the lawns are allowed on the whole island.