118 underground springs gave rise to spectacular historic spas, from medieval Turkish to Belle Époque and modern offerings
Budapest is the "City of Spas" for a Reason
What makes Budapest really stand out from other European capitals is its thermal-water spas, thanks to 118 underground springs. When the Ottoman Turks ruled here (1541-1699), they started harnessing these in earnest, creating incredibly atmospheric hammams (Turkish baths), several of which are still in operation, such as Rudas (one of our favourites, with a stone dome and octagonal pool), Császár and Király. Then, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, "taking the waters" became especially fashionable and gave rise to magnificent classics such as the city's most famous spa (and hotel), the Gellért, built in 1918 with both indoor and outdoor pools. Another is the neo-Gothic Széchenyi, built in 1913 with three large outdoor pools and a dozen indoors. All of the above of course also include facilities such as saunas and massage rooms. It's a particularly amazing experience to luxuriate in water of 37 degrees (99°F) or even warmer on a chilly winter night.
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