A lively green area in Budapest: the Péterhalmi Forest and its surroundings
Hungarian version of the article: Egy éledező zöld terület Budapesten: a Péterhalmi-erdő és környéke
January 29, 2022 at 2:30 PM
There are several separated, yet close, green areas in the 18th District. In a nice row, we string them together for a walk of about 6-7 miles, during which we get a view of the district parks. It is worth noting now that it is astonishing how big and what kind of forests the outer districts of Pest often have, but the ideal utilization is far behind. It is also true that in recent years it is as if something is starting to change, perhaps primarily in our heads, which is the most important step for the proper maintenance and utilization of an urban forest.
We start our discovery walk on Gilice Square, there are several buses coming directly from Kőbánya-Kispest railway station, but the forests can also be reached from Pestszentimre railway station or by trams from Üllői Road. It can be seen that the many small parks and the Péterhalmi Forest can be explored from several directions.
From Gilice Square we were the first to head north to Bókay Garden on Cziffra György Road, as this small fenced park provides several interesting things based on our preliminary knowledge.
Upon entering, we could state that there is a significant opportunity for social and sports life here: an ice rink, an adventure park, an obstacle course, two record runways, a small airplane demonstration, a sandy BMX track and a skating rink under construction await visitors.
Entrance to the garden (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
Adventure park with a plane (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
There is also a ping pong table, a teqball court, several tennis courts and a small outdoor theatre. There is also an indoor restaurant and summer bar, as well as a cultured, heated toilet. For us, the diversity and orderliness of the park is an absolute positive surprise.
It is also difficult to list the many sports fields and recreational opportunities (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
The BMX and skate park under construction (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
The Bókay Garden itself is not very big, it can be walked in a quarter of an hour, it is just ideal. There is also a small lake inside the park, and let’s not forget the bath, which also functions as a swimming pool. Overall, Bókay Garden is a worthy counterpoint to the infamous Havanna microdistrict, which is located almost next door. However, it is also true that the Havanna microdistrict is not the same as in the old days, not as dangerous as it was in the 1990s.
Outside the garden fence is a small hill on the west side, which already belongs to Turul Park. On top of it there is a cross. We expected more from a Turul, but that’s all we have to settle for here now. In any case, the small chapel of St. Lawrence hides sweetly among the trees. The Lajos Tomory Museum of the district municipality is also worth visiting.
The panorama from the hill of Turul Park (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
From here, the Péterhalmi Forest is really close, which can be reached on Benedekfalva Street within a few minutes ’walk. From this street you can also see to the east a nice big white sphere on some feet. It can also be seen from Gilice Square, as it is an important meteorological measuring station and even the main meteorological observatory in the capital: the György Marczell Main Observatory. The Pál Ambrózy Meteorological Study Trail has also been established in its garden, it is worth visiting. There are many programs on the night of the museums, but of course you can visit at other times.
The big white sphere, which tries to attract visitors from afar (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
Opposite the observatory, we continue on Fogoly Street, then immediately turning right onto Mályinka Street, we can see the edge of the Péterhalmi Forest on our right. It is the best known and largest forest in the district. We soon reach one of the main entrances to the forest. There is a fire pit, a football pitch, a children’s playground and a small wooden hut. A smaller car park has also been built for those arriving by car, it is advisable for them to park their car here. There is a green area perfect for a picnic.
The leisure park at the entrance to the forest (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
If we go further in the rather worn yellow tourist sign, we will find ourselves in the depths of the forest.
The dense forest (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
We also cross the route designated for running and then reach a more open section. Here the sandy forest soil from the alluvium of the Danube emerges clearly. The trees are mainly acacia, but there are also baobab, as well as alder, elm, oak and linden. Information boards can be found alongside the road. Unfortunately, their condition has deteriorated a bit, and vandalism can be seen in action here as well.
Fortunately, there are many information and knowledge boards (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
Soon we cross abandoned rails, then turning right into the depths of the forest after a few hundred meters we notice an interesting phenomenon: a lot of plastic bag remains on the top of the trees. At first we didn’t know what to think about, as they were on top of the trees, but then we saw an industrial site in the middle of the forest and its yard: a lot of plastic waste was waiting for its fate. A higher fence might have been possible so as not to pollute the forest to such an extent…
Nature has already taken possession of the railways (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
Plastic "crop" on the trees (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
Walking further south, we get to the forest gym, and after another kilometre we reach the southern main entrance of the Péterhalmi forest: here again there are football fields, a playground, a fire pit, information boards and even a beach volleyball court, ideal for the above-mentioned sandy ground.
Finally, we end up at the southwestern tip of the forest, at the Alacskai Road microdistrict. Here we continue on the Határ Road, actually walking down the street that opens into a forest. This is the forest on Kapocs Street, which is not so small. The pine tree is common, the forest is a bit more mixed. But let's not expect many other curiosities besides nature, in exchange there are not so many people. The southern edge of the forest is also the city border towards Gyál. There is still a playground and some information boards.
The Kapocsi Road forest is worth the small detour (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
The Pestszentimre railway station is not far from here, from where you can return to the Kőbánya-Kispest railway station. We even made a detour to Hargita Square, which is quite far on foot. Here is the largest memorial park in the district, the 1956 memorial park. The ensemble of monuments is quite robust, but at the same time it was very heartbreaking to see that names of people can be read up close in each small brick cube.
The '56 Memorial Park (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
During our trip we went through several parks and forests of the 18th district. The Péterhalmi Forest actually separates Pestszentlőrinc from Pestszentimre. The old industrial tracks connecting the two main railway lines cut the forest in two, which could be better recultivated, but the industrial plant in the middle of the forest is the problem with the pollution already mentioned. On the other hand, it seems that the sacrificial work of local NGOs is paying off, as they are also trying to defend the forest against vandalism.
We have seen that the park forests offer a variety of recreational opportunities for visitors, whether they are families or the elderly. The flat terrain is definitely favourable in this respect. Forest management is carried out by Pilisi Parkerdő Zrt. here, as in so many other park forests in Pest. All in all, it can be said that a day trip and a city tour is worth a visit to the 18th District and the Bókay Garden offers a variety of recreational opportunities for those interested in sports and culture, while the meteorological observatory delights those interested in natural sciences.
Cover photo: The leisure park at the entrance of the Péterhalmi forest (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu) (Photo: Dávid Palotás / pestbuda.hu)
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