Adventure Journal-The Healing Waters Of Hungary’s Thermal Baths

Lake Hévíz in Hungary, It is the largest therm...

Lake Hévíz in Hungary, It is the largest thermal lake in Europe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you just want to relax or you’re looking for a gentle cure for a
specific ailment,

a spa with natural spring thermal water is a perfect
holiday choice.

(The largest thermal lake in the world that is suitable for bathing is located at Hévíz, Hungary)

The only 5-star hotel in Hévíz,
formerly known as the Rogner Hotel & Spa Lothus Therme, is now
operated by Accent Hotel Management.

The hotel, now trading under the name
Lotus Therme Hotel & Spa, awaits guests with the same staff; from 15
October 2012 the new GM has been Ms Erzsébet Pusztai.

With little exaggeration, you could say that all you need to do is push a
stick into the ground anywhere in Hungary and up would come thermal
water, most likely with some kind of curative properties. The geological
features of the Carpathian Basin are such that the earth’s crust is
very thin, so waters rise easily to the surface. Hungary is a land of
more than 1,000 hot springs and enough spa facilities to accommodate
300,000 people at the same time! RudasThese
spas are located in big cities and smaller towns throughout the
country. Some are simple thermal baths serving the local community.

The Romans, no strangers to the good life, were the first to take
advantage of this naturally occurring phenomenon, but Budapest also
offers some of the finest examples of the “Turkish Bath” found anywhere.
Today, a couple of contemplative hours in the local baths are part of
the daily routine for many Hungarians – particularly those with
arthritis, breathing difficulties and muscle pains.

Despite their popularity with tourists, taking a dip in the baths remains a uniquely Hungarian experience.

There are many stereotypes about Hungary: goulash, beautiful women and an impenetrable language, to name but a few…

But leave them at home – if you know where to look, Hungary is a secret garden of healing and wellness.

The Romans were the first to fall in love with Hungary, but
certainly not the last… It is said that wherever they went, they built,
and where they built, they bathed.

They knew of salus per aquam
(“healing by water”) and made maximum use of this natural treasure.

More than two millennia have passed, but the thermal water is showing no
sign of running dry.

Today’s uses of the therapeutic water bear little resemblance to
those of the Roman Empire. Thermal water is now recommended for a wide
variety of conditions, from the scourge of the modern age, stress, to
joint pain and gynaecological or skin complaints.

Whatever the ailment, Hungary’s healing garden has just the cure.
Patients are spoiled for choice not only in terms of the wide range of
wellness spas and resorts equipped according to the highest medical
standards, but also when it comes to accommodation – there is something
for all tastes and budgets. Whether you chose one of the famous cities,
such as Budapest, Eger, Esztergom, Szeged or Visegrád, the opulent
vineyards of Transdanubia, or the holiday capital of Lake Balaton, there
is something for everyone.

Need
any more convincing to spend a relaxing holiday in one of the
sunniest and most hospitable countries in the world? Browse this web
blog and learn more about the centuries of bathing culture that
awaits you wherever you go in Hungary!

The word, massage, originally came from the French masser. It is the act of kneading,
rubbing, stroking or tapping the body in a planned and controlled way.
Massage has a relaxing and at the same time activating effect on the
tissues and muscles. It invigorates the blood supply, restores the skin
and lymphatic functions. Breathing deepens. It is advisable to have
infrared thermo-therapy prior to taking a massage.

Different forms of
massage should be applied for different problems and therapies:
classical massage, acupressure, relaxation massage, lymph draining
massage, foot reflex massage, connective tissue massage, brush massage,
underwater pressure massage and meridian massage.

The word, spa, derives from the abbreviation of the Latin ‘sanus per aquam’
(health through water). In fact the term holds particular significance
in Hungary, famed as the land of thermal and medicinal waters. Today
medicinal baths, wellness centers, clinics and health hotels use the
beneficial effects of water in a whole variety of ways, from the pearl
bath through Kneipp treatments all the way to health-oriented spa
regions. The word spa has become an international term in the area of
whirlpool- and sauna baths, swimming pools, steam baths, beauty farms
and wellness centers.

The
River Danube once formed the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire – the
area today known as Transdanubia was at that time the province of
Pannonia. Its capital was Aquincum (from the Latin aqua, meaning water)
in what is now Budapest. Archaeologists have unearthed 21 Roman baths in
this area: remains of fine mosaics remind us that bathing has been part
of this region’s culture for over 2,000 years. Hungary fell to the
Turks in the 16th century. Is it possible that the Ottomans invaded –
and stayed for 150 years – because they were attracted by the abundance
of thermal water?! Some of the Turkish baths they built during their
occupation – including those in Eger, and the Rác and Rudas in Budapest – are still functioning today.

The Baths and Wellness Centre at Gyula
is situated in the mature grounds of a stately home, next to Hungary’s
only medieval brick-built castle. Many country mansions have been
restored and converted into luxury hotels, and the best of these offer a
range of modern health-related services and facilities. Guests staying
at the country-house hotels in Parádsasvár,Röjtökmuzsaj, Hőgyész and Bikal can expect to be treated like royalty!

Budapest – Spa City

So
beautiful is Budapest that several areas of the city have been declared
UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including the romantic Danube riverscape
and the Parisian boulevard of Andrássy út. Over 100 of Hungary’s mineral
springs emerge in Budapest, and half of these feed the city’s thermal
baths. Two of the grandest bathing complexes – the Széchenyi and the Gellért
date from the turn of the 20th century, when many large-scale
architectural projects were commissioned to celebrate the 1,000th
anniversary of the Magyar Conquest.

Unique Places

The largest thermal lake in the world that is suitable for bathing is located at Hévíz,
in western Hungary.

The water temperature never drop below 79°F/26°C –
even in the depths of winter – and the lake is surrounded by hotels and
sanatoria.

Miskolctapolca,
in the northeast of the country, boasts a unique cave lake. Situated on
a geological fault line on the edge of the Bükk Hills, it is the site
of both cold karst- and hot-water springs.

There
is also a new spa hotel at Egerszalók; the steaming terraces of
snow-white calcium crystals on the green hillside are a spectacle to
behold.

Whether it’s peace and quiet
you’re after or a calendar full of things to see and do, Lake Balaton is
here to satisfy your every need.

Smooth waters and fresh wines, sand
and surf, fishing and frolicking, splashing and sailing, concerts and
clubs, partying and paddle boating, beach volleyball and biking, elegant
castles and sleepy villages, beautiful landscapes and crystal clear
air, Lake Balaton has it all.

The highlights on the northern shore of Lake Balaton include romantic
strolls along the pretty  streets of Balatonfüred oozing 19th century
charm and hiking to the top of Tihany for a breathtaking view of the
lake in the lavender scented air.

Just a few million years ago geysers
spouted hot water into the air on the Tihany peninsula.

Take a hike on
the lunar landscape near the Inner Lake to see the evidence. Just a
short ride from here to the west, between Balatonudvari and Örvényes,
you’ll find one of the most spectacular golf courses of Hungary, Royal
Balaton Golf & Yacht Club.

The
volcanic slopes further west along the shore are the perfect terrain for
refreshing white wines.

Badacsony is a perfect spot for hiking, but a
local myth makes it even more worthwhile for couples.

If you and your
loved one sit on the Rose Stone with your backs to the lake (it’s hard
to turn away from the view, we know), legend has it you’ll be married
within a year.

Now that deserves a toast, right?

Explore the many wine
cellars and their fabulous wines

and mouth watering dishes until you
find your favourite one.

Behind the basalt mountain of Badacsony you can
find the fairytale valley called the Káli Basin. Visit its lovely quiet
villages and move on to the mineral waters at Kékkút, source of
Theodora Quelle waters.

At the
western peak of the lake, you won’t only find the source of health in
the largest natural medicinal thermal water lake in the world in Hévíz,
but also one of the three largest baroque palaces of the country, the
Festetics Palace in Keszthely. If you like great contrasts, after the
grandeur and elegance of the palace, don’t miss out on the area’s tiny
jungle, the Little Balaton. It’s paradise for endangered plants and for
birds, with tens of thousands arriving as if for an annual convention at
migration time. Patient birdwatchers have counted 250 species, of which
100 nest here and 27 are protected.

The southern shores of Lake Balaton will lull you with their quiet
charm.

Small towns oozing character, living traditions of arts and
crafts, spas and wineries,; exquisite castle hotels and the largest
walnut plantation in Europe.

But your trip to Lake Balaton won’t be
complete without visiting the party capital of the area, Siófok.

After
chilling out on one of the many lidos or practicing your wakeboarding
moves on the silky smooth water during the day,

this small town caters
for all your partying needs with club complexes and beachside pubs where
dancing on the tables is the norm,

and everything in between.

The Hungarian Baths Association has
announced that from this year, 9 October has been declared the Day of
Hungarian Bath Culture.

For the first time, more than 50 baths
have joined the initiative offering a 50% discount on admission.
Lectures presenting the history of Hungarian spas and baths will also be
held at the facilities.

The central message of the country for
the forthcoming years will be “healing Hungary”, announced Mr Balázs
Botos, deputy state secretary of the Ministry for National Economy.
Hungary has all the potential to render health tourism as a breakthrough
point, he added.

In the next few years, the Hungarian
message will focus on physical and mental health, but “with the help of
gastronomy, the quality of life and tourism services will also improve”.
To achieve this, more support should be given to the catering industry,
the politician added. In order to improve the possibilities, the demand
and the offer should be more balanced. Problems include the lack of
restaurants offering traditional gastronomy values, fresh Hungarian
ingredients are often missing from the menu and the education system is
also out of date.

When Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi was asked if he believed in extraterrestrials, he replied:

“They are among us, but they call themselves Hungarians”

This small country is one of the oldest European countries, situated in the middle of the continent in Central Europe.

Hungarians speak a language and form a culture unlike any other in
the region: this distinctiveness has been both a source of pride and an
obstacle for more than 1100 years.

This is the country

– which boasts one of the world’s most beautiful cities: Budapest, the “Pearl of the Danube”

– where 2000 year old Roman ruins and 400 year old Turkish monuments can be found side by side

– where Central Europe’s largest fresh water lake – Balaton – is located, providing natural paradise for its visitors

– where hundreds of therapeutic mineral springs gush up from the depths

And there is something else that keeps bringing visitors back to us – the legendary Hungarian hospitality.

Categories: Adventure Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Adventure Journal-The Healing Waters Of Hungary’s Thermal Baths

  1. Charles Balint

    This is a well written brilliant travel journalistic piece! more power to you covering the lovely Carpathien basin,thanks.

    • Thank you. Coming from you that is a real compliment. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the area around Lake Balaton became known as the Riviera of the Communist. Lake Balaton was the main locale where German families from the East could meet with their relatives from the West without complications. The Socialist government installed in Hungary after World War Two went to great lengths to develop social tourism for the workers. There are thermal baths, beaches, vineyards, wines and folklore to satisfy every taste. There is also the abundance of natural landscapes with the flora and fauna of a Garden of Eden.
      This region has played a major role in the development of tourism in Hungary and it is still one of the major drawing attractions. I really love this area, and I am sure you do also.

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