Travel Tips

Once upon a time over the Pannonian Sea

Heviz thermal lake Hungary

     Hévíz is definitely one of the bucket listed places we should all visit at least once in our lives. It´s the largest thermal lake in the world available for swimming, and not at least a UNESCO World Heritage candidate. With this in mind, I decided to go there for three whole days as part of my wanderings in the area. I have learnt so much about it from books, movies, experiences. I have read a lot about the historical, festive carved wooden architectural structures reminiscent of the Monarchy era,  and about the deep-dark bottomless healing lake left over from the thousand year-old Pannonian Sea from the Tertiary period. I longed for that experience, which, frankly, came all too slowly. The lake had a hard time surronding it.

     Let´s just say that, in fairness, I had arrived at a time when the area was still waking from a long and difficult dream of coronavirus closures, where the hosts, guests, and perhaps even the wonders within, anew with gift of sweet freedom falling into their laps. Were at a loss as to what to do with it. The neighborhood was slowly drooping, the streets of the evening city simmering with emptinessthere was only silence and desolation, the loudness of which encompassed everything. The promenade surrounding the beautiful and iconic buildings of the spa lake complex had been subjected to maintenance work, entire sections had been closed in front of the guests, increasing this illusion-shattering effect. 

Old pump room of Heviz with medicinal water

Old pump room of Héviz with medicinal water

    What´s the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Hévíz? The carved wooden historical buildings, the towering wonders of the entrance to the Lake Bath and the Festetics bathhouse, the classic bathing facilities reminiscent of the Monarchy, the water of the lake and its mirror-smooth surface, the soothing presence of rippling or gently, almost motionlessly moving water, the image of water lilies bathing in the lake and diverted into huge islands, the unmistakable and liberating heat of the summer sun burning my skin. This is Hévíz, and of course much more than that. In one place we have an opportunity to taste all the moods of the world, both figuratively and literally, for example, the magnificent fairy roses mentioned above bring to us the mystique and charm of the Far East, and not by chance. It was Dr. Sándor Lovassy, an internationally renowned naturalist, on whose initiative these fairy roses from India and Africa were planted in the lake in 1898. Among them, the red water lily of East India settled and became a symbol of the city. Another example is the main entrance of the lake, guarded by two cherubs, which were made on behalf of the Festetich family at the turn of the century for kept away the demons. The cherubs served the gods in the mythology of the ancient Semite folks. Their images were engraved in the stones of kings’ palace gates or church gates. According to the legend, if someone walks through between this two Héviz cherubs without love in the heart, the cherubs start speaking. According to another storyteller not the cherubs but the copper rooster placed on one of the towers of the baths starts speaking, if someone leaves the town without love.

     If you are not completely satisfied with the natural wonders of the place, the bottomless lake, the healing water and the enjoyment of the environment, and you want something else besides diving, you can gain an insight into the history of the spa complex itself. All of which is contained inside of a tiny museum in one of the long stretches of the building, as part of an exhibition of the lake´s history. Here you can get acquainted with the natural and healing effects of the spa’s surroundings and water, the beginnings of the complex through the ages, the names and dates of medics, scientists and events that play a significant role in the spa’s operation, or you can look at the guest list of the 1910s and read about the spa´s famous visitors. On the outside walls of the hosipital you can also admire the memorial plaques of the founder and the famous personalities of the complex. In addition to bathing and the silky waters healing embrace, there are other ways for Hévíz to become synonymous with health addition to relaxation. This is the mud, as the place is a natural hot mud bath. There is also a special part of the lake spa, where you can cling to the metal railings of a metal pool and descend into the muddy deep brown water, and by placing the dense mud on different parts of our body you can enjoy the moments of healing.

   If you are simply tired of mud and would rather forego the Lake Bath for a while, there is the opportunity to experience even more of the relaxing milieu of Hévíz. The NaturMed Hotel Carbona, where I stayed, also has a thermal water pool, with pale blue mosaic tiles, figurines, a private drinking fountain modelled on a magnificent Roman bath, and a small indoor swimming pool with a well-appointed, quite prestigious pool, resembling the interior of a  wooden ship. There’s nothing better than setting al alarm for six in the morning for an early splash in the carressing waters of the swimming pool. At dawn, when everything is so untouched and innocent, unburdened by the presence of a single soul, swimming a few lengths let´s us forget about the miracle of our unrepeatable presence and our existence on earth. I can only recommend it to everyone.

     And when we are leaving the venue, we should think about what this miracle has given us and make a promise to return, because Hévíz and the old Pannonian sea, can provide many experiences and beautiful memories for those who are able to let go, those who are open to real relaxation, the fairy roses and mud cures, the charm of wooden buildings and a world imbued with history, the charm of an old world.

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