Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Taking a Historical Thermal Bath Today by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Welcome back to History Undressed, our regular first Tuesday blogger and author, Kathleen Bittner Roth! I don't know about you, but I love a good bath, and a hot tub is awesome, too. But a thermal bath??? Now you're talking! Enjoy! 


Kathleen Bittner Roth

As an author, I can live anywhere. Currently, I reside in beautiful Budapest, Hungary. For how long, I do not know, but while I’m here, I am happily making the best of it.

Making the best of it?

OMG, what an understatement!

Budapest is such an amazing city. Merely stepping out my front door means a remarkable day is in the making. My tree-lined street is an enclave unto its own—venerable buildings adorned with statues and all manner of baroque ornamentation, a post office, hair salons, vegetable stands, restaurants, pubs, super market. A couple hundred feet to my right is a trolley stop. In minutes I can connect to all kinds of efficient transportation in the city.

But turn left out my front door, walk to the end of the block, and I’m in beautiful City Park where I can find a castle, a lake, a skating palace (in summer the water is used for boating), museums, restaurants, a zoo, and one of Hungary’s many famous thermal baths.

Did I say thermal baths?

Oh, yeah!

Budapest sits on a huge underground thermal lake so the city is thick with Turkish baths, some of which date back centuries. Stepping into them is like stepping into an Ottoman Palace. Here are my favorites:

Szechényi Baths:
This thermal bath is my favorite. It is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. And glory be, if this exquisite facility isn’t located in the park right down the street from me. A leisurely stroll and I am inside a grand neo-Baroque building, circa 1881.

There are indoor pools and outdoor pools at Szechenyi—fifteen to be exact, one of them being an Olympic size pool kept at swimming temperature. My favorite is the huge outdoor pool that roils with clouds of steam when the hot thermal air connects with the icy air in winter.

Public baths are cheap in Hungary, even cheaper if you have a doctor’s prescription for ailments such as an ailing back.

Masseuses will crank your muscles every which way for not much money, and there’s a bar there should you thirst for anything from water to mixed drinks.

Besides Szechenyi, here are a few of my favorite bath houses in Budapest:

Gellért Bath:
Located along the banks of the Danube (the river separates Buda from Pest), the hot springs the bubbled up were used by the Turks as early as the 15th century! The baths have indoor and outdoor facilities and are connected to the famous Gellért Hotel. Photos don’t do this remarkable place justice.

Rudas Bath (pronounced Roo dosh):
This thermal bath was built in the 16th century during the Turkish occupation and is still in operation! The tile work is amazing. There is an octagonal pool with a cupola that is sustained by eight pillars. The water in these baths is full of minerals and is therapeutic. A day-time outpatient hospital runs here with a complex physiotherapy department.

Lukacs Bath (pronounced Loo kotch):
The baths operated during the time of the Turks, but in the 12th century, Knights in the Order of St. John used the thermal springs for healing purposes. They were followed by the Knights Orders of Rhodos and Malta and their monastery baths were built there. 

Királyi Bath (pronounced Key rye):
The construction of this bath was under the command of Arsian, the Pasha of Buda in 1565, but he died and his successor, Sokoli Mustafa had it completed. In 1796 the bath was purchased by the König Family. It was damaged during WWII. A complete renovation back to its original form such as the Konig Family had it built, took place in 1950.

Dagály Bath:
The thermal water here comes from the Szechenyi Bath. This is a picturesque outdoor area with ten various pools. The “fancy” pool as it’s called offers a wide variety of facilities such as an effervescent bed, a whirling corridor, neck showers, splashing sunbathing, not to mention a spectacular view.

Where’s your favorite historical city or what city have you visited that has its special magic?
If you are ever in Budapest, there is so much to see, but you must take time to visit at least one of these baths. It’s an experience you will never forget.

Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.

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