Budapest sits on some 125 thermal springs. In fact the very name of the settlement given by the Romans, Aquincum, was reported made in reference to these thermal springs. These springs cause the water under Budapest to be mineral rich and great for the body. In fact many people claim that time in the baths improved medical conditions that were ailing them.
The Romans built baths in the place in the 2nd century but even though the Romans began baths in Budapest, it wasn’t the Romans but the Ottomans who popularised thermal baths in Budapest.
The Ottomans were obsessed with the thermal springs, springing from their own strong hamam culture and built some of the grandest thermal springs still in operation in Budapest today. Turks and the Ottomans continue to retain a very strong Turkish Bath culture.
The Budapesti continues to enjoy and embrace this part of the Ottoman heritage with the many thermal baths found all over the city. Building many more baths with the insides looking grand and made in all architecutral styles. However, even though it is a part of their history embraced by the locals, it is not actually frequented by locals. The majority of people who visit baths are tourist.
Unlike the Turkish ones which include many massage rituals the thermal baths in Budapest tend to be open pools and springs that you can soak and enjoy. It is similar to a Japanese onsen in a way.
A thermal bath is one of those things that should be experienced and cannot always be described, although if I’m being honest I could not bring myself to go into the spa because I could not get away from the fact that so many human beings would be sharing a large pool of water with me.
True to Budapest fashion though, even something traditional can be spruced up and brought to life for a younger crowd. Merge bikinis, bodies, booze and baths and you have the perfect sensual experience of the Sparty, a spa party.
Somehow, knowing a Sparty takes place at the Thermal Baths seems to confirm my decision not to go in. Or maybe I’m just a neat freak.
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