Budapest City of Spas in Budapest
The Capital with the World’s largest number of Thermal Springs
Budapest first gained the epithet City of Spas in 1934, and with it recognition that there isn’t another capital city anywhere in the world that has more hydrothermal and mineral springs. It is also a unique fact that the 118 natural or specially drilled springs, with a temperature ranging from 21 to 78 °C (70–172 °F), deliver 70 million litres (15.4 million gallons) per day. Walking along the Danube embankment on the Buda side, you come across the famous thermal baths one after the other. They have a wide appeal, suiting those engaged in sports as well as those who would rather sweat it out in the steam room or pass the time of day unwinding in the soothing thermal water. The particular mineral content of the waters here marks them out as being efficacious in the treatment of locomotor, circulatory and gynccological disorders. Close to the baths you can find springs and pump rooms, offering the range of natural mineral waters to drink. The most renowned pump room for taking curative drinks is at the entrance to the Lukács Baths. It was opened in 1937 and is recommended, amongst other things, for those suffering from gastric complaints. The building dates from 1894, and the establishment’s fame spread quickly throughout Europe, becoming one of Hungary’s best known attractions.
In Buda there are also working thermal baths remaining from the Turkish period, for example the Király and the Rác, both built towards the end of the 1500’s. Another, the Rudas, is both the oldest and the most elaborately decorated, and includes a fine octagonal main pool.
Budapest’s Finest Art Nouveau Thermal Spa
The foot of Gellért Hill was the site of a hospital in the Middle Ages; by the Turkish period there was a bathing place there. On one of his travels, the Turkish writer Evlia Cselebi advised that one should stay in the water almost until one’s body turns red and then quickly get out but keep warm. Today’s Gellért Hotel and Baths date from 1918, although the wave pool and whirlpool bath are later additions. This is Budapest’s finest thermal bathing complex, still displaying original art nouveau fittings, colourful mosaics, marble columns and stained glass windows and statues.
The Best Views of Buda and Pest
Legend has it that in 1046 pagan Hungarians revolting against Christianity hurled the missionary Bishop Gellért into the Danube from a steep cliff face on the hill that now bears his name. His huge statue marks the spot, above a waterfall, and looks commandingly out over the river. Following the putting down of the Hungarian War of Independence (1848-49) the Austrian Emperor had a citadel built at the top of the hill – to show the rebellious town who was master. From its terraces 450 feet above the Danube there are spectacular views over the city. And conversely from nearly every point down below there is a good view up to the bronze statue of a woman holding aloft a palm branch, the Liberation Monument. This was erected in 1947 and commemorates the liberation of Budapest at the end of the Second World War.