Budapest - Hungary

Introduction

Budapest, recognised as a “Spa City” since the 1930s is the only capital city in the EHTTA network which is also a spa centre. For centuries it has been a fashionable place for the celebrities of the day. Even in Roman times, with 14 private and public bath houses, it was a centre rivalled only by Rome itself in terms of bathing facilities. Today baths, lidos, beaches and spa hotels use the plentiful thermal waters, which flow at a rate of 70 million litres per day from 123 natural hot springs and bore holes at temperatures ranging from 21oC to 78 oC. Here at the crossroads of Europe, traditions and historical buildings from east and west add to the variety of exciting spa experiences on offer in the city.
Budapest had several significant historical periods or thermal development. Firstly the Roman occupation, when bath complexes with several pools at various temperatures provided the means for social contact. Hospitals were built over the medicinal springs during the Árpád Dynasty (10th - 13th century), but it was the Turkish occupation from 1541-1686, when both baths and hamams were built, which are still in use today. During the age of enlightenment in the early 1700s, when the first studies were made of the benefits of the hot springs in Buda, and then from the 1930s, Budapest, having been declared a “Spa City” became the headquarters of the International Balneological Association.
The Budapest Spas Company promotes the Gellért Baths (perhaps the most famous with its iconic hotel, the Széchenyi Baths (where you can play chess in the water), the Lukács Baths (renowned for cures since 1178), The Rudas Baths (authentic Turkish baths now popular for its night bathing), the Király baths (original Turkish baths), the Palatinus Baths, and several others.

Historical background

Budapest has a two thousand year-old history of bathing culture. Various archeological digs have revealed the traces of settlements on the lands of Pannonia Aquincum and at the camping ground of the II. Roman legion.  The first, earliest period of the thermal culture may be put at that time, when the first baths had been constructed here. The earliest Hungarian written documents from 1178 mention the existence of a settlement known as Upper Hévíz at the spot of present-day Old Buda (namely Lukács and Császár Bath). 

The second significant period of our bathing culture evolved under the Turkish occupation (1541-1686). Many municipal buildings were erected over the springs of medicinal waters; the bath of Aga called the Muddy bath at the place of present Gellert Bath, Kücsük ilidzsaszit at the place of present Rác Bath and the Direkli ilidzsaszit at the place of present Rudas Bath. 
The third period falls into the first half of the 1700’s, the age of enlightenment, when the first studies were completed about the benefits of the hot springs of Buda. In 1762, under the reign of Maria Theresa, it was decreed that mineral waters should “be analyzed and registered at the expense of the Treasury”.
At the beginning of the 1930’s, the world recognized that Budapest had the greatest number of healing thermal spring waters and our capital was given the “Spa City” accolade. In 1937, at the instigation of the Budapest Spa City Society, the first International Congress of Balneology took place in our capital.

 

History of the spas

 

History of Széchenyi Thermal Bath 
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is o­ne of the largest spa complexes in Europe. It's also the first thermal bath of Pest. It owes its existence to Vilmos Zsigmondy, a mining engineer. O­n his initiative, some successful deep borings had been performed in the City Park, where later, in 1881 already an "Artesian bath" was in operation. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath was built in 1913. 
History of Gellért Thermal Bath 
We find records about the "miraculous" springs spurting up o­n the territory of the Bath from as early a date as the 15th century. In the 17th century, the site was named Sárosfürdő (Mud bath) because of the fine spring silt that was pushed up together with the spring water and settled at the bottom of the pools. The Gellért Thermal Bath and Hotel, known world-wide and highly favoured by foreigners, built in art nouveau style, opened its gates in 1918 and was expanded in 1927 by the wave-bath and in 1934 by the effervescent bath.
History of Rudas Thermal Bath 
The centerpiece of the bathing culture today is the Turkish bath. It was built during the 16th century in the period of the Turkish occupation. Below the 10m diameter dome, sustained by 8 pillars, there is an octagonal pool. The thermal bath has been visited from 1936 o­nwards exclusively by men. The swimming pool, operating as a therapeutic swimming facility and with a sauna, was built in 1896.
In its drinking hall, the water of the springs Hungária, Attila and Juventus can be consumed for the purposes of a drinking cure. In the bath, there is a daytime outpatient hospital operating with a complex physiotherapy department.
History of Lukács Thermal Bath 
In the 12th century, knights of the order of Saint John engaging in curing the sick settled in the area of today's Lukács Bath, followed by the orders of Rhodos and Malta, who built their monastery baths as well. After the Turkish occupation, the bath became the property of the Treasury. In 1884, Fülöp Palotay purchased the bath from the Treasury, thus a series of transformations began. The spa hotel was built, an up-to-date hydrotherapy department was established and the swimming pool was transformed. People wishing to be healed came from all over the world. The drinking cure hall of the Bath was built in 1937. The first department to ensure complex thermal bath facilities (daytime hospital) was established in 1979 in Budapest, in the Lukács Thermal Bath.
History of Király Thermal Bath
The construction of this Bath was begun by Arslan, the Pasha of Buda in 1565 and was completed by his successor, Sokoli Mustafa. The Király Thermal Bath had no direct hot water base, nor has it any today. The Turks built the Bath far from the springs to ensure the opportunity for bathing even in the case of an eventual siege, within the walls of the castle. Its water was supplied at that time, and is being supplied now, from the surroundings of the current Lukács Bath.

Water sources

Spa water composition

Széchenyi Thermal Bath
The water supply for the bath is provided by the Saint Stephen Well Nr.II commissioned in 1938. It is a hot-spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, also containing sodium and sulphate, with a significant content in fluoride and metaboric acid.
The water of the drinking well is a healing water with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, chloride, sulphate, also containing alcalics and a substantial amount of fluoride.

Therapeutic suggestions:
degenerative joint diseases, chronic and sub-acute arthritis, orthopedic and post-accident treatments
Drink diets:
chronic gastric catarrh, gastric ulcer, intestinal catarrh, overproduction of gastric acid, chronic inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney and of the urine paths, certain forms of renal stone illnesses, chronic catarrh of the inhaling organs, influencing disturbances of metabolism linked to gout, in case of certain illnesses of the gall-bladder and the gall paths, for enhancing gall-discharge
St. Gellért Thermal Bath
Water supply to the Bath is ensured by the spring accesses established inside the Gellért hill. The water is a hot spring water with calcium, magnesium and hydrogen-carbonate as well as sulphate-chloride, also containing sodium and with a significant content of fluoride ions.
Therapeutic suggestions:
degenerative joint diseases, spinal deformity, chronic and sub-acute arthritis, discus hernia, neuralgia, vasoconstriction, circulatory disturbances, Inhalation for the chronic diseases of respiratory organs
Rudas Thermal Bath
Radio-active hot spring water with calcium-magnesium-hydrogen-carbonate also containing sodium and sulphate and with a significant content of fluoride ions.

Therapeutic suggestions:
degenerative joint diseases, chronic and sub-acute arthritis, discus hernia, neuralgia
St. Lukács Thermal Bath (and Király Thermal Bath)
Hot spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate and sulphate, chloride, also containing sodium and with a substantial content of fluoride ions.

Therapeutic suggestions:
degenerative joint diseases, chronic and sub-acute arthritis, spinal deformity, discus hernia, neuralgia, post-accident rehabilitation, Spa treatments, services

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Healthcare Services:
day-time hospital, curative gymnastics, underwater traction-bath, thermal bath, swimmingpool, steam-bath
sauna, tubbath (with curative water), carbondioxide bath, mud-treatment, underwater water jet massage, medical massage, refreshing massage, foot-massage, drink diet

Additional Services:

Swimming lessons, adventure pool, sundeck
Wellness:
fat-burning gymnastics, weightlifting gymnastics, shaping gymnastics, fitness centre, aqua fitness, pedicure
cellulite treatment, SPA detoxication, Thai massage
St. Gellért Thermal Bath

Healthcare Services:
day-time hospital, spa physician consultation, dental care, thermal bath for men, thermal bath for women, carbondioxide bath, mud-treatment, steam-bath, sauna, underwater water jet massage, underwater traction-bath, electrotherapy, refreshing massage, medical massage, foot-massage, aroma massage, curative gymnastics, inhalation
Additional Services:
wave pool, whirlpool, sunbeds
Wellness:
hot stone massage, classic Thai massage, manager massage, HYDRUS package, HELENA package, NARCISSUS package, MIRTUS package, spa therpay packages.
Rudas Thermal Bath
thermal baths, swimmingpool, tubbath (with curative water), underwater waterjet massage, medical massage, refreshing massage, aroma massage, sauna, steam-bath, drink diets, pedicure
St. Lukács Thermal Bath
Healthcare Services:
thermal baths for both men and women, underwater traction-bath for men and women, carbondioxide bath
underwater water jet massage, medical massage, aroma massage, refreshing massage, foot reflexzone, massage, sauna, infrasauna, steam-bath, mud-treatment, salt chamber treatment, Himalaya saltwall, curative gymnastics, drink diets
Additional Services:
aqua fitness, solarium, sundeck
Király Thermal Bath
thermal baths, steam-baths, sauna, tubbath (with curative water), underwater water jet massage, medical massage, refreshing massage, foot-massage, pedicure

Spa and treatments

Spa water composition

 

Széchenyi Thermal Bath
The water supply for the bath is provided by the Saint Stephen Well Nr.II commissioned in 1938. It is a hot-spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, also containing sodium and sulphate, with a significant content in fluoride and metaboric acid.
The water of the drinking well is a healing water with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, chloride, sulphate, also containing alcalics and a substantial amount of fluoride.

 

Therapeutic suggestions:

  • degenerative joint diseases
  • chronic and sub-acute arthritis
  • orthopedic and post-accident treatments

Drink diets:

  • chronic gastric catarrh, gastric ulcer, intestinal catarrh
  • overproduction of gastric acid
  • chronic inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney and of the urine paths
  • certain forms of renal stone illnesses
  • chronic catarrh of the inhaling organs
  • influencing disturbances of metabolism linked to gout
  • in case of certain illnesses of the gall-bladder and the gall paths, for enhancing gall-discharg

St. Gellért Thermal Bath
Water supply to the Bath is ensured by the spring accesses established inside the Gellért hill. The water is a hot spring water with calcium, magnesium and hydrogen-carbonate as well as sulphate-chloride, also containing sodium and with a significant content of fluoride ions.
Therapeutic suggestions:

  • degenerative joint diseases
  • spinal deformity
  • chronic and sub-acute arthritis
  • discus hernia
  • neuralgia
  • vasoconstriction
  • circulatory disturbances
  • Inhalation for the chronic diseases of respiratory organs

Rudas Thermal Bath
Radio-active hot spring water with calcium-magnesium-hydrogen-carbonate also containing sodium and sulphate and with a significant content of fluoride ions.Therapeutic suggestions:

  • degenerative joint diseases
  • chronic and sub-acute arthritis
  • discus hernia
  • neuralgia

St. Lukács Thermal Bath (and Király Thermal Bath)
Hot spring water with calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate and sulphate, chloride, also containing sodium and with a substantial content of fluoride ions.Therapeutic suggestions:

  • degenerative joint diseases
  • chronic and sub-acute arthritis
  • spinal deformity
  • discus hernia
  • neuralgia
  • post-accident rehabilitation

Spa treatments, services

 

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

 

Healthcare Services:

  • day-time hospital
  • curative gymnastics
  • underwater traction-bath
  • thermal bath
  • swimmingpool
  • steam-bath
  • sauna
  • tubbath (with curative water)
  • carbondioxide bath
  • mud-treatment
  • underwater water jet massage
  • medical massage
  • refreshing massage
  • foot-massage
  • drink diet


Additional Services:

  • teaching swimming
  • adventure pool
  • sundeck
  • value safe-keeping
  • rental
  • catering service facilities

Wellness:

  • fat-burning gymnastics
  • weightlifting gymnastics
  • shaping gymnastics
  • fitness centre
  • aqua fitness
  • pedicure
  • cellulite treatment
  • SPA detoxication
  • Thai massage

St. Gellért Thermal Bath

 

Healthcare Services:

  • day-time hospital
  • spa physician consultation
  • dental care
  • thermal bath for men
  • thermal bath for women
  • carbondioxide bath
  • mud-treatment
  • steam-bath
  • sauna
  • underwater water jet massage
  • underwater traction-bath
  • electrotherapy
  • refreshing massage
  • medical massage
  • foot-massage
  • aroma massage
  • curative gymnastics
  • inhalation

Additional Services:

  • wave pool
  • whirlpool
  • sunbeds
  • rental
  • catering service facilities

Wellness:

  • hot stone massage
  • classic Thai massage
  • manager massage
  • HYDRUS package
  • HELENA package
  • NARCISSUS package
  • MIRTUS package
  • spa therapy (1 week)
  • full spa therapy (1 week)
  • full spa therapy (2 weeks)
  • special therapy (1 week)
  • special therapy (2 weeks)

Rudas Thermal Bath

  • thermal baths
  • swimmingpool
  • tubbath (with curative water)
  • underwater waterjet massage
  • medical massage
  • refreshing massage
  • aroma massage
  • sauna
  • steam-bath
  • drink diets
  • pedicure
  • value safe-keeping
  • retal
  • catering service facilities

St. Lukács Thermal Bath
Healthcare Services:

  • thermal baths for both men and women
  • underwater traction-bath for men and women
  • carbondioxide bath
  • underwater water jet massage
  • medical massage
  • aroma massage
  • refreshing massage
  • footreflexzone massage
  • sauna
  • infrasauna
  • steam-bath
  • mud-treatment
  • salt chamber treatment, Himalaya saltwall
  • curative gymnastics
  • drink diets

Additional Services:

  • aqua fitness
  • solarium
  • sundeck
  • rental
  • safe-keeping
  • catering service facilities

Király Thermal Bath

  • thermal baths
  • steam-baths
  • sauna
  • tubbath (with curative water)
  • underwater water jet massage
  • medical massage
  • refreshing massage
  • foot-massage, pedicure
  • rental
  • value safe-keeping

 

Spa beauty products

Our thermal waters are perfectly suitable for the manufacturing of various cosmetics. Although there is already a company which produces cosmetics with the water of the Gellert baths (Omorovicza), our future plans include to create a separate brand.

Another important product is the mud from Kolop, which is used by spas for physiotherapeutical treatments. About 30 thousand patients each year come for healing purposes. This mud is recommended for arthritis, muscle pain, orthopedic trauma, and gynecological complaints. Our goal is to develope an independent, successful product, both for the domestic and international market.

For more information on spas of Budapest please visit : http://www.budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu/en/budapest_city_of_spas

Facts and figures

    1. Arrival (2010): 4 033 227 (foreign visitors)
    2. Tourist attendance (2010): 3 794 947
    3. Medium stay length (2010): 2,3 days
    4. Brief report on the tourist flow in the last five years:
      For the tourism industry in Budapest, 2009 proved to be one of the hardest periods in a long time due to the effects of the global financial crisis. A total number of 2,288,701 guests spent 5,402,165 tourism nights at accommodation facilities in Budapest, which represent a 11.2% and 11.1% decline, respectively, in a year-on-year comparison. In the year 2010 the number of guest nights increased by 4,6% and especially the foreign guest nights showed a considerable growth compared to the same period in the previous year.
    5. Other forms of complementary tourism : cultural tourism, business tourism, congress tourism, sport tourism and passing tourism.
    6. Arrivals and attendances of spa tourists: In 2010 there were 2.134.265 visitors registered in the historical baths
    7. Accomodation capacity (2010)

Category

Number of hotels

Number of rooms

Number of beds

Hotels

158

17 537

37 115

5-star

16

3 664

7 362

4-star

61

8 527

17 580

3-star

72

4 896

10 932

2-star and 1-star

9

450

1 241

-From hotels: Spa and wellness hotels

13

2 117

4 326

Others (boarding houses, tourist and youth hostels, camping)

66

1 421

3 744

Total

224

18 958

40 859

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