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Szechenyi Baths (Budapest)

11 Allatkerti krt., Budapest.


The Szechenyi Baths are located in the City Park of Varosliget. The complex is surrounded by picturesque terrain of park trees. This was the first bath to be built in Pest.

The construction of the Bath began after successful deep boring performed on the territory of the today's central park of Varosliget. The boring was run by the famous mining engineer Vilmos Zsigmondy, who decided to build the "Bathing House" in the capital at his own expense. The first well was drilled in the place of Heroes' Square in 1868.

Moreover, even before boring Zsigmondy offered the head of the city to use the well water not only for baths, but also for filling the park lake for free.

The municipal council of Pest passed the corresponding resolution in July of 1867 and the City Hall took control over the borings.

The well borings continued till 1878, when at last at a depth of 970 metres (3,182 feet) thermal water with a temperature of 74 C/165 F was found. A plain wooden pavilion was built in order to use this water. Later, according to the design of Miklos Ybl, the distinguished Hungarian architect, the gloriette was set. Then this gloriette was moved to Mount Szechenyi in Buda because of the monument erected to the thousandth anniversary of Hungary. The Well No. 1 is still functioning under the centre of Heroes' Square, rather under the equestrian statue of Arpad, the Magyars' leader.

The opening of the spring for public rapidly made its healing power famous and the small bath could not welcome lots of people wishing to recuperate. So, in 1903, the capital municipal council decided to build here a modern immense bathing complex and invited the architect Gyozo Czigler to design it.

The project started in 1909 and the construction of the Szechenyi balneological baths (still one of the largest in Europe) was already finished in 1913.

Gyozo Czigler and his partner architect Ede Dvorzhak succeeded in blending the elements of architecture styles of the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries showing harmony and consistency. They invited the distinguished artists of their time to decorate the complex such as Miksha Rot (glass inlay), Gezu Maroti (decorative plastics), the sculptor Ede Telch and the artist Zsigmond Vaidu (shaped pictures), who coped with their task with dignity, their works even more emphasize the perfect buildings and interiors of the bathing complex.

In 1927, the complex was expanded upon the project of the architect Imre Franchek and included public bathing departments for gentlemen and ladies and an additional beach site, which actually were open only in warm season. The original Imre Franchek's transformation design also included a drinking pavilion with an outside entrance.

However, the renovated and expanded complex, opened August 19, 1927, could not solve financial and economic problems of the Szechenyi balneological baths, moreover, the operating costs increased substantially owing to rise of water heating costs. These circumstances as well as necessity to increase water supply made the municipal council speak out in favour of the second well boring.

Discussing the matter of the second Artesian well in 1928, deputies of the municipal council were guided by an expert judgment of Vaina Ferenz Pavai, a senior geologist. However, owing to the economic crisis the municipal council decided to finance the boring for the Szechenyi balneological baths only in 1936.

Experts defined the boring place near the eastern corner of the complex and on the 9th of July, 1936, work began. The boring was a success: a thermal water jet of 77 С/171 F spouted from a depth of 1,256 metres (4,121 feet) on 16th March, 1938, its day flow was 6,000 cubic metres (211,920 cubic feet). The well was named after Saint Istvan.

As a result both water supply issue and the problem of bathing complex heating were solved: the complex heating system became geothermal in 1939. A fascinating fountain and a drinking pavilion were erected near the spring. After water from the new well became available number of baths customers substantially increased in 1940 and continued to rise till 1944.

Battles in Budapest during the World War II destructed luckily only 20% of the Szechenyi balneological complex. And the major thing is that the water supply base, the second Artesian well, was not damaged, so the baths partially began to take customers even before the postwar repair works were completed.

In mid 1960s, further transformation and reconstruction took place, adding a public thermal department and a daytime outpatient hospital with balneological treatment.

Reconstruction of the swimming pools, water filtering and circulation devices installation took place in 2000. In particular, so-called fancy bath includes a whirling corridor with strong stream, underwater geysers, mini-waterfalls for neck and shoulder massage and water jet back massage installed in sitting underwater benches.

The complex includes:
– a 910 sq. m (9,791 sq. ft) swimming pool with a temperature of 28 С/82 F in winter and 26 С/79 F in summer;
– a 600 sq. m (6,456 sq. ft) fancy bath with whirling water, underwater geysers, water jet massage, water temperature 32–34 С/90–93 F;
– a 675 sq. m (7,263 sq. ft ) hip pool with thermal water cooled to 38 С/100 F;
– swimming pools in saunas, water temperature 16 С/61 F.

The complex also includes:
– 11 baths;
– 2 Finnish saunas;
– ice cocktail machine;
– wooden baths;
– steam room in the public thermal department;
– room with hot blowing up in the public balneary department;
– balneotherapeutic treatment in the daytime department;
– individual and group therapeutic physical training;
– group underwater exercises;
– thermal therapeutic pool;
– carbonic acid gas baths;
– other baths;
– salt baths;
– mud baths;
– underwater douche-massage;
– massotherapy;
– toning massage;
– foot massage;
– pedicure;
– aqua aerobics;
– fitness studio;
– gym;
– sunbed;
– sun baths on the roof;
– checking room;
– hire of bathing outfit: bathing suits, swimming trunks, sheets, towels;
– drinking water treatment;
– infra-sauna;
– Thai massage.

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Szechenyi Baths