Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Healing Waters Of Hungary's Thermal Baths

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 will be 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  Lake Balaton, you will not only find the source of health in the largest natural medicinal thermal water lake in the world at 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. This area became the Riviera of the Communist countries.

The Socialist government installed in Hungary after World War Two went to great lengths to develop social tourism for the workers. This led to nationalization of the existing facilities, expropriation of lands and villas, and the establishment of holiday camps.
      During the Communist Era after the Iron Curtain descended on Eastern Europe, Lake Balaton was the main locale where German families from the East could meet with their relatives from the West without complications.

Small towns oozing character, showcase 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.

For those who like crowds, Siófok is the holiday resort par excellence.

The lakeside beaches are overlooked by villas, hotels, campsites, restaurants, discotheques, and shops for clothes, jewelry, bags, and souvenirs.

 Development in Siófok really exploded in the 19th Century after the construction of a railroad line. It became more readily accessible to the residents of Budapest looking for cool relief from the crowded city. The city boundaries expanded several times along Lake Balaton to accommodate the steadily increasing numbers of visitors.

      The landscape on this side of Lake Balaton provides a wealth of treats for visitors.

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.

After Budapest this is the most heavily visited area in Hungary. The vast majority of the tourists are German. And German is the most widely spoken foreign language in the Lake Balaton area.

 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.

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