Budapest Spas

Over 2000 years ago the curative properties of the Hungarian thermal waters were discovered by Romans. For this reason Budapest is one of the most beautiful and healthy cities in Europe, due to its 118 natural thermal springs that deliver 70 million liters of therapeutic waters each day. No wonder it has officially carried the title “City of Spas” from 1937, when it hosted the first World Federation of Hydrotherapy and Climatotherapy conference attended by 37 countries.

Many of Budapest’s most beautiful thermal baths were built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the occupying Ottoman Turks. They brought to Hungary the traditional Ottoman hammam and built hundreds of baths on the sites of healing springs along the Danube. The city has now four baths built during the Ottoman rule: Király, Rácz, Rudas and Veli Bej. The original Turkish rooms are famous for the beams of multicoloured light shooting through the openings in the dome. Rudas is probably the most popular and most atmospheric medieval Turkish bath in Budapest, built by Sokoli Mustafa, Pasha of Buda between 1566 and 1578 near some springs currently known as Attila, Hungaria and Juventus. The spa also holds modern annex houses, a larger swimming pool and a rooftop hot tub, which is bustling in both the summer and winter months. One of the oldest thermal spas in the city is Király Baths, with its magnificent cupola-topped pool built in 1565 inside the walls of Water Town, so the Turkish troops could enjoy the baths even during a siege. The classical wings of baths were added at the beginning of the 19th century. The next unique Turkish spa is Veli Bej Baths also built during the rule of Ottoman statesman Sokoli Mustafa, in 1574. In 1806 he bath became the property of the Ordo Hospitalarius, that expanded on the original edifices. During the reconstruction lead by architect József Hild in 1841- 1848 the bath was enlarged and its name was changed to Kaiser Bad – Császár Baths. The last mentioned spa from the Turkish era is Rácz. The oldest part of the Rác Bath is the Turkish cupola, built in 1572 and its imperial pools and shower corridor were built by famous Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl in the age of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Beside Turkish baths Széchenyi or Gellért spas are beautiful architectural creations in their own right.  Built in 1913, the artesian Széchenyi Baths are situated in the heart of the City Park. The bath house is one of the largest in Europe and the only thermal spa on the Pest side.  The Gellért Baths, which existed even back in the Middle Ages at this location named “Sárosfürdő, are based inside the Grand Gellért Hotel, which opened in 1918 and is a prime example of the Art Nouveau style, thanks to which has featured in many local and international films. The bathhouse complex was expanded to include an outdoor pool with a wave-generating machine in 1927. The first international balneological conference was organized here, this is why the bath became the seat of the International Balneological Meeting. On the Buda side of the city is also an important bath worth visiting – the Lukács Baths, where the thermal springs have been in use since the 12th century. The historic building became a healing spa and treatment center at the end of the 19th century, and its inner courtyard is emblazoned with marble tablet engravings of gratitude from those who were treated there. It is also very important to mention Margaret Island, known as the “Spa island of Budapest.” The island’s thermal waters have been known since the Medieval Ages. Water, sourced from three natural springs, is used in the Grandhotel’s thermal bath as well as its indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hydrotherapy bath, sauna, steam and aroma baths.

As we know, healing water is an excellent resource for relaxation, and can be used to cure different diseases externally, or for a drinking treatment to heal internally. Today, there are 15 public thermal baths in Budapest with healing waters ranging from 21 to 78 degrees Celsius, containing different minerals, not counting the private thermal spas established in some luxury hotels, which have their own spas, operating all year round, offering a wide range of treatments.