Introduction

The thermal baths in Budapest constitute an integral part and a unique characteristic of the Hungarian capital. Their history stretches to the Roman times and has continued up in the Middle Ages and under the Ottoman rule up to the present day. Thus, the origins of the bathhouses which are to be found in Budapest nowadays can be traced a few centuries back. Among the most prominent and famous bathhouses in Budapest should be mentioned: Gellért, Széchenyi, and Rudas Thermal Bath. This rich historical heritage reflected in the architecture and in the bathing tradition itself has determined the character of the Hungarian bath culture comprises various European and Asiatic elements. What is more, this multicultural character of the Budapest baths corresponds well with the image of the whole Danubian region inhabited by people of various ethnicity, languages, and religions. Needless to say that not only does it make baths in Budapest an interesting position on the tourists’ checklist, but has also profoundly contributed to the flourishing  Hungarian cultural live since the baths served for greater part as the place of social meetings of the intellectuals of the time.

Location of the thermal baths in Budapest

TV Programme on the baths in Budapest

Gellért Baths

The history of the Gellért Baths streches to the times of the Ottoman rule in Hungary as they were built in the fifteenth century. They were established in a place where a hospital was located in the Middle Ages. The baths were exteremely popular among the Turkish population of the city owing to the healing qualities of the springs. The Gellért Baths were also called Sárosfürdő which means ‘muddy’ since the mineral mud settled at the bottom of the pools. The complex was rebuilt in 1912 and 1918 and then again after the Second World War.

Lukács Baths

Lukács Baths has been known for the centuries for their healing qualities and regarded as one of the finest spas and treatment centres in the region. They were first founded by the knights of Saint John’s order and in subsequent years taken over by the members of the orders from Rhodes and Malta. In both cases the baths served their primary purpose which was healing. Later on, after the Turkish conquest, the tradition of these baths was also enriched by the Oriental elements. The Lukács Baths were also shortly revived in the late nineteenth century and much of the climate of the fin-de-siècle era is still apparent. From the 1950s onwards the Lukács Baths has been regarded as the place where intellectuals and artist would come together which makes it to a certain degree a centre of social life of the city. Today, Lukács Baths are known for so-called 'Water Discos' which are held there regularly.

Water Disco at Lukács Baths

Rudas Baths

Rudas Baths are located in the very centre of Budapest, in the narrow stip between Gellért Hill and the banks of the Danube. The Rudas Thermal Baths were first built during the rule of the Ottoman Turks in Hungary and has been operating since the early sixteenth century. The compex is, additionally, an exquisite examaple of the outstanding Turkish architectural style. Interestingly, the old tradition has been maintained in the Rudas Baths and the pools are accessible for men and women on different days during the weekdays. Only in the weekend both genders can use the baths at the same time. Apart from that, the Rudas Baths also offer the opportunity to taste water from the thermal springs bubbling beneath the baths: Hungária, Attila, and Juventus.

Széchenyi Bath is the largest and one of the most prominent medicinal bath in Europe

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