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2019.10.16 - Baths and architecture

Baths and architecture

The majority of Hungarian baths are not only a significant place of medical interest but also have great architectural and cultural appeal. When you chill in the water you don’t only connect with water but you get thrilled by the magic of the place. The feeling of the built environment contributes at least that much as the thermal water and the salt dissolved in it.

It is a serious challenge for an architect to build a spa since the humid environment makes the building more exposed to deterioration while the expectations of visitors are high. They want them to be dazzled by large or intimate small spaces, homey lights, and of course, the building should be practical and safe, and customers would like to see a reflection of their glory in this tourist attraction. So expectations are high, however, not only one architect met these expectations and created a long-lasting beauty. 

Széchenyi Bath 

The Széchenyi Bath is one of the most characteristic buildings of the Millennium Budapest: the idea of the new Pest Bath has already come up in 1884, but the execution was slow. The designing was given to Győző Cziegler, whose name is associated with the designs of several buildings of the Monarchy. He built public buildings from Rijeka to Vienna, and besides Széchenyi in Budapest, his most famous work is the Gozsdu courtyard. It was not until 1903 that the general meeting nodded its plans for the spa, and construction began in 1909. Unfortunately, Cziegler could not see his designs coming alive since he died in 1905. The spa was opened in the summer of 1913. The building, which Cziegler had dreamed of, was very modern, palace-like, yet culturally diverse at the same time. Many people disagree with its style as well since it has Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist features, but it’s most likely eclectic. The building is being embellished with countless mythical figures, sculptures, murals, mosaics, and unique tiles. All works of art are about the relationship between man and water. The spa was unbelievably popular so not long after its opening the capital's general meeting decided to expand it in 1924. The winner of the competition was Imre Francsek Jr., thus the beach and the surrounding buildings were created according to his plans. The new part of the building is in perfect harmony with the original, thus it is not easy to notice that they were designed by two separate architects. The development of the spa didn’t end there: a second well supplying the spa was drilled in the late thirties from which a 77-degree thermal water bursts from 1256 meters deep to the surface. It heats all the pools and the building making the whole operation more economical. Széchenyi Bath is not only one of the largest baths in Europe, but it is safe to say that it is the most impressive of all, its atmosphere is most similar to a castle. 

fu_rdo_k_es_epiteszet_1.jpgTurkish bath - Rudas 

The thermal sources at the foot of Gellert Hill supply many baths. One of the most interesting ones of these is the 500-year-old Rudas. A few years ago the Turkish thermal pool which is the core of Rudas has been selected as the fourth most beautiful bath in the world. The spa was built between 1566 and 1572 by the Turkish occupying Buda, under the control of Szokoli Mustafa the Pasha of Buda - the name of the designer himself has been lost in the past. The Turkish name of the bath was the "Green Column Bath", which was given because one of the eight columns above the swimming pool was green. Different types of green stones have been found in the walls during remodeling works. The spa has been used continuously ever since then, for nearly 500 years. This is an Ilidsa-type Turkish bath, which is not a steam bath, but a complex built around a pool using thermal water from the sources. During the Turkish era, countless baths were built in the Ottoman Empire, but Rudas is unique with its columnar design. In the recently renovated building, many interesting features were discovered during the reconstruction. During the renovation, for example, original pink plaster parts were found. They were used by Turkish bath builders because they wanted to recreate the atmosphere of Istanbul's red marble baths, but transporting the marble slabs was not an easy task, so they tended to achieve the desired effect with colored plaster. Of course, the building of the spa has changed a lot over the last centuries. In 1876 Miklós Ybl himself, the star architect of that time, also participated in the development of the plans for the expansion. 

fu_rdo_k_es_epiteszet_2.jpgSzeged Anna Bath 

The thermal baths of Budapest are world-famous for a reason, many architectural baths could be highlighted here: Rácz bath, Gellért bath ... Just for the sake of order, a bath located in the country from the millennium should also be listed here. In Szeged, the big flood in 1879 did not spare the public baths either, so the city council decided to put out a competition for the construction of a new public bath. The assembly was so serious about the spa that he sent an architect from the city to Turkey to study the spa culture, which was still well-developed at that time. It is interesting that Győző Cziegler, who designed the Széchenyi Bath in Budapest, assisted in the evaluation of the applications. The winning entry was submitted by Antal Steinhardt and Lang Adolf from Vienna. The designers were not unknown at the time, and many of Andrássy Avenue's palaces and the National Theater of Pécs were associated with them. The difficulty of the design was to create a large but not tall building on a triangular downtown site. In such a case, the building can easily become a characterless, flat block. The design couple solved this problem by making the facade of the building extremely divided, consisting of several smaller units, each of which has its dome-like roof structure. The style of the building is called Neo-Renaissance, though it may look more like an Oriental Buddhist temple from the outside. The spa was opened on September 6, 1896, but was not a success yet among the citizens of Szeged, since the smoke of its steam boilers covered the whole downtown with an unpleasant smog, and the delicate roof structure had to be constantly repaired which consumed too much money. Finally, a 944-meter-deep well was drilled next to the spa in 1927 from which the 52-degree thermal water (the Anna water) still erupts to the surface today. The thermal water is used in the bath to supply the thermal pool with water and heat the water of the other pools instead of the smog-making boilers. The spa's current name dates back to this time. Which was formerly known as the City Steam Bath was renamed after the daughter of Dezső Patzauer, the distributor of the water of the thermal well Anna-water and Anna-bath. The structure of the domes has been strengthened, so even if it did it slowly, but the exciting building has melted into the heart of the dwellers of Szeged.