The Bathing Society
It is true, that no other countries in Europe were blessed with water of such great quality as was historical Austria-Hungary. Due to special geological conditions, there are unique mineral water sources hidden under the Carpathian Basin. These mineral and medicinal water sources arose along ruptures or sprung up as a result of volcanic activity. Medical water is a kind of water that contains more salt and gas than usual, it contains rarely occurring compounds and might also have a higher temperature than normal minearal water.
From the very beginning thermal fountains and mineral waters were used to supply the simple or grand public baths which were built above them. The culture of these bath places was influenced by the cultural traditions of other nations, like the Romans or Turks, and it was also formed over hundreds of decades throughout the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy when the social life of the civilians changed and became more vivid even in the fashionable bath places. Bath culture, specific to the Monarchy, didn´t arise spontaneously, it was directly influenced by developments in chemistry, biology and medical studies of the time. Public interest in medical and mineral waters rose during the 18th century. Its origin can be traced to the bulletin given by Maria Theresa in December 1762 in which she ordered the examination of the Habsburg Monarchy´s mineral waters, as she intended to get them into trade. Joseph II went a little further and developed
several health and bath regulations. It was to his merit that the bathing life of the Habsburg-Monarchy began to bloom. During the period of emperor Francis I. and his political constributions to bath culture several Austrian and Czech settlements were announced as pleasure resorts.
This was another great advocacy. The biggest supporter of the Hungarian public baths was Joseph, the Palatine of Hungary who went to Balatonfüred quite often for bath therapy.
Beside encouragement from the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy in the 19th century, development of the bourgeois was the prerequisite for the mass interest in bath places. The craze for going on holiday evolved in the former half of the century by which point there were already 30 high standard and first class bath places in the country. Resorts like Baden bei Wien, Bad Ischl, Bad Gastein, Gräfenberg, Karlsbad, Marienbad, Franzesbad, Balatonfüred, Heviz, Parád, Pöstyen, Bartfafürdö, Trencsenteplic, Tatrafüred, Buda, Borszek, Szovata, Herkulesfürdö, Abbazia, Crikvenica, Rohitsch, Daruvar, Palics, Lipik were the best. In 1876 there was even passed a public health law to clarify the orders and laws about mineral waters and how to run a „modern” medical bath. The golden age of baths lasted for fifty years from the period of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Tourism, as we talk about it today, started in the second half of the 19th century in every European country. At the end of the 19th century, with the development of cities, many people felt that it was time to get away from the crowd and to spend the summer in a healthier place close to nature. With a 33 % discount on railway tickets to any bath resorts within the territory of the Monarchy, taking bath treatments became the most popular way for people to spend their time. Baths were also places where people could have fun as opposed to solely looking for cures for their health problems.
Dear readers, enjoy the charm of the old days!