Any trip to Budapest is all but wasted without a visit to one of the Turkish, and Turkish-inspired baths, which have been a central part of the city’s character since the 1500s. During the Ottoman occupation, the Turks discovered that the faults which run under the city gushed warm mineral water; water that could be tapped and used in the creation of unique restorative baths. The Turks left long ago, but the baths they built remain, and since that period, the city of Budapest has added many new facilities to their collection, which can be found in both Buda and Pest.
The baths vary in size from the small Király (which was built inside the Palace walls, and has its water pumped uphill from the Lukács bath) to the grand, very popular Széchényi. The Széchényi Bath is located in the City Park, which is surrounded by working-class neighborhoods, making it the most popular choice for locals and tourists alike.
Built in a Neo-Baroque style in 1913, the Széchényi Baths have received multiple expansions and now comprise 15 baths that include outdoor pools, steam rooms and sauna, and a massage facility. The curative powers of its mineral water, rich in fluoride and metabolic acid, calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium and sulfate, is validated by the fact that the Hungarian State health insurance plan covers trips to the baths when prescribed by a doctor. Aching joints, arthritis are the most common ailments the baths are supposed to aid, but would you believe the water can also be purchased for a drinking cure? (The sulfur-tasting water is said to assist in the treatment of gastric ailments of all stripe.)
Oh – and just have a look at these pictures, which also include shots from other famous local baths like the Gellért, Rudas, and Lukács Baths.
As you can see, the baths are rightfully a point of pride and figure into the cultural and historical fabric of the community. The Turks are gone, but the sumptuous baths remain, ensuring we can all feel like pasha for at least a few hours.
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