Interesting facts and information about the Széchenyi baths: its history, how to get there, ticket prices, opening hours, recommended services.
Big things are connected to the name of István Széchenyi
He created the National Casino to discuss political, economic and social issues, he gave a full year of his salary to found the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, he was one of the supporters of the idea about the National Theatre, he created the National Hungarian Economic Association, and the Chain Bridge is also thanks to him. His indisputable act was making horse racing a part of social life.
According to one of his fiercest political opponents, Lajos Kossuth, he is the “biggest” Hungarian.
It’s not shocking that it’s not a lángos stand that they named after a country man of this format, so we don’t have to be surprised that the country’s, and Europe’s largest baths was named after him.
The history of Széchenyi Baths
Budapest is one of Europe’s most serious tradition rich spa cities with many healing- and thermal baths, thanks to thermal springs discovered hundreds of years ago, which has been used with great satisfaction even by the Romans as well. Széchenyi Baths stand out even from the rich selection.
It began deep
Its story begins around the end of the 19th century, when Vilmos Zsigmondy mine engineer, the founder of the drilling of artesian wells in Hungary, decided in 1868 that he will start drilling under Heroes’ Square.
Just in ten years they reached the absolute deep point, which in a well-drilling project is quite a welcome development. In 1878, 3-400 liters of healing water began to bubble up every minute from 970m depth.
As it would be a serious waste to water flowers with this water, they built a small bath on I. artesian well. This became the Artesian Bath.
Its popularity grew really quickly, so much so, that in 1884 development became a topic. The actual current city administration was famous for considering what they fund, but despite this, and yet just 25 years later they had the expansion plans with the approval of the General Assembly. No matter what, haste makes waste.
The opening of Széchenyi Baths
The construction that began in 1909 finished four years later. On the 16th of June, 1913, the extended facility opened under the name Széchenyi Baths.
Its popularity didn’t decline due to the reconstruction, and in fact, its value grew so much that in 1927 they extended the existing indoor pools with an outdoor section. However, its single well by then was not enough to soak hundreds and thousands of bodies each year, so in 1936, they began to drill for well II.
After two years and 1256m, they found 77°C thermal water, and not just a little. And with this they solved the issue of the baths growing need for water. During the next decades different hospital departments and medical services appeared at Széchényi, further growing the groups of visitors.
In 1997, the reconstruction of the by then fairly worn classical and neo-Renaissance building complex and its facilities began. Even in 2016, works were carried out in different sections, where not only the historic building and its indoor-outdoor decorative pieces, but the bath infrastructure also renewed.
It is thanks to this and the more and more colourful palette of services that half of the millions visiting here are foreigners. It’s not common in other large European cities to bath in such a great, historical environment.
More commonly old baths can be visited as museums, and right next to them, a modern institution fulfills the original duty of the historical building. So Széchenyi Bath is a rarity in an artistic aspect as well.
Széchenyi is also called a “bathing palace”, as the main theme in the indoor and outdoor decoration is water, connecting motifs – stylized water monsters, shells, fish, mermaids – are dominant, and the interior layout is subordinate of the spa culture.
On the square around the outdoor pools and within the building are many statues. Stepping into the dome hall we can see the work of József Róna, the fountain of Triton fisher centaur.
The dome mosaics show the sun god, Helios, as well as Greek, Eastern and Egyiptian bathing scenes. The painted glass is thanks to the work of Miksa Róth.
An effective therapy
No matter how much our eyes are drawn to the bathing palace, the main reason people come here is the water. The natrium containing calcium-magnesium-hydrogencarbonate, sulphate thermal water, with significant amount of fluoride and metaboric acid.
Isn’t it so simple? Okay, I won’t pretend like I understand anything from above, and I won’t even attempt to shed some light on why each component is so important. But one thing is for sure, thanks to this composition, it’s effective during therapy for degenerative joint diseases, chronic arthritis and during orthopedic follow-up treatment.
They will 21 in- and outdoor pools with this water, which includes a 50m long swimming pool, plunge pool, sitting and leisure pool and of course, many medicinal pools.
The services of the Széchenyi Baths
However, the fun does not end with bathing, there are countless other services available here. Different saunas, besides nine different massages we can take part of aqua-fitness classes.
The range of medical services is also quite lengthy: different tub bathing, underwater jet massage, medical massage, weight bath, mud pack, just to name a few.
We can’t only get to medicinal water at the bath, there are so called drinking cures based on the drinking fountains excavated here. Drinking the healing water can ease different problems, such as chronic gastritis, gastric ulcer, enteritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic respiratory catarrh, some forms of kidney stone diseases, or leprosy, ebola and being a werewolf. Okay, I’m not sure about the last three. 🙂
Even after the reviving bath, the Széchenyi Baths, or as the locals call it Szecska, still have many programs. Beautician, BEER BATH (!!!), garden restaurant can pose as the venue for them.
There is something else – if this isn’t enough
The healing water of Szecska fulfills a public service as well: as its composition is very similar to river Nile’s, the water of the hippos at the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is also filled with water from here.
According to gossip, the caregivers also use it as an aphrodisiac, and the question, is the fact that this zoo is where a large amount of Europe’s hippo population comes from connected to this, I’ll leave it to your imagination.
Oh, and one more important thing: while walking around the baths, don’t panic if you run into Lujza, the love of a man. They say, she drowned in one of the pools decades ago, nowadays emerges from the water without a sound, and watches the foams while wandering along the pools. A harmless, returning soul, so you don’t have to call the ghostbusters.
It’s a special experience to rock away within the ancient walls of Széchenyi Baths in the pleasantly warm water. The view is spectacular, time is like it’s stopped, forcing us to take a break. As a huge interactive bath-museum, a must-do program all year long, not even mentioning that thanks to the healing water, we do something for our health too while bathing here. An unrejectable offer!
- Every day: from 6am to 10pm.
- Cash desk close at 9pm.
Recommended services of Széchenyi Bath:
- Indoor and outdoor pools with thermal water
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Outdoor leisure pool with jacuzzi and whirlpool
- Steam chambers
- Safety lockers
- Drink therapy
- Private tub-bath
- Mud treatment
- Weight bath (available only on medical prescription)
- Carbon-dioxide bath (available only on medical prescription)
- Medical massage (available only on medical prescription)
- Underwater jet massage
You can find more information about the services here.
The prices of the Széchenyi Baths in 2019:
|Daily ticket with cabin usage||6000Ft||6200Ft|
|Daily ticket with locker usage||5500Ft||5700Ft|
|Afternoon ticket with cabin usage (from 7 pm)||5700Ft||5900Ft|
|Afternoon ticket with locker usage (from 7 pm)||5200Ft||5400Ft|
How to get to Széchenyi Baths:
The bath is located at the City Park.
H-1146 Budapest, Állatkerti krt.9-11
Easy access by public transport:
- For example trolleybus 72 towards Zugló train station:
You can board the trolleybus at more tourist frequent stations in downtown, such as: Arany János street -Bajcsy Zsillinszky road – Nyugati Railway station. It won’t come as a surprise, but you will have to get off at the Széchenyi Bath stop. The trolleybus stops right beside the bath so you can find it easily.
- M1 metro towards Mexikói road
Another public transport alternative is the M1 metro, which is the quickest way to get to the bath from downtown for only 350Ft, which is currently only a bit over a euro. (You’re not sure how much Forint you’ll get for your currency? Live exchange rate details.)
If you are leaving from downtown, you will have to board the metro going towards Mexikói road. Getting off at the Széchenyi Bath stop. The M1 metro stops at many downtown stations such as the Vörösmarty square or Deák Ferenc square so it’s a quick and wallet-friendly solution.
I have already written a comprehensive article on travelling by metro in Budapest.
What may interest you in it: