At the approximate geographical center of Budapest, there stands erect a 10-foot-tall limestone sculpture carved into a pointedly oval rendition of the numerical digit zero. This rather suggestive in form but otherwise unassuming sculpture marks the reference point from which the distances of all roads leading to Budapest are measured, as seen on highway signs throughout the country.
The stylized zero rests on a four-sided base reading “KM,” surrounded by faded names and distances of Hungarian cities and towns set in the ground, radiating out from the base toward their respective locations. These all offer somewhat subtle clues about the purpose of the otherwise unexplained statue. It seems that most tourists in this heavily trafficked area are keen to sit on the benches that surround it without giving the monument so much as a passing glance.
Budapest’s first kilometer-zero reference point was emblematically placed at the threshold of the royal palace, but was moved to its present location after the Chain Bridge was completed in 1849.
The current sculpture was placed in 1975, adjacent to the bottom terminus of the Buda Castle Hill Funicular. Credit for the current sculpture goes to Miklós Borsos, whose work includes the tombs of some notable individuals and families located in Budapest’s Kerepesi Cemetery.
Know Before You Go
The Zero Kilometer Stone is located within the Clark Ádám tér, located on the Buda side between the base of the funicular and the Chain Bridge.