POINTS OF INTEREST
Heroes' Square is the gateway to a square kilometer (almost ½ square mile) of recreation, entertainment, beauty, and culture. A bridge behind the Millennial Monument leads across a boating basin that becomes an artificial ice-skating rink in winter; to the south of this lake stands a statue of George Washington, erected in 1906 with donations by Hungarian emigrants to the United States. You can soak or swim at the lovely, turn-of-the-20th-century Széchenyi Fürdő, jog along the park paths, or marvel at the art nouveau buildings and beasts of the Budapest Zoo.
In the eastern quarter of the park, former leisure-time youth center and major concert hall Petőfi Csarnok is slated for demolition but as of mid-2016 still hosts a weekend fleamarket in its back lot. The Gundel restaurant charms diners with its turn-of-the-20th-century ambience. Fair-weather weekends, when the children's attractions are teeming with youngsters and parents and the Széchenyi Fürdő is brimming with bathers, are the best times for people-watchers to visit the park; if you go on a weekday, the main sights are rarely crowded.
Beside the City Park's lake stands Vajdahunyad Vár (Vajdahunyad Castle), a fantastic medley of Hungary's historic and architectural past, starting with the Romanesque gateway of the cloister of Jak, in western Hungary. A Gothic castle whose Transylvanian turrets, Renaissance loggia, baroque portico, and Byzantine decorations are all guarded by a spooky modern (1903) bronze statue of the anonymous medieval "chronicler," who was the first recorder of Hungarian history. Designed for the millennial celebration in 1896, it was not completed until 1908. In 2003, a bust of legendary B-movie actor Béla Lugosi was placed in an alcove along the southeast corner, its origins a mystery even today.