The Soaking Life

The Pursuit of Health, Good Food and Hot Water

Rudas Bath: An Ancient Tradition of Soaking in Budapest

The Rudas Bath features striking examples of Turkish architecture, like this sunken octagonal pool.

Featuring Guest Blogger Krisztina Fazekas

Our tour of Hungary’s geothermal springs continues with another guest post by Hungarian photographer and writer Krisztina Fazekas. Krisztina visited the Rudas Bath in Budapest to bring us these stunning images of the spa. You can see more of Krisztina’s  work at her website, Erre-Arra

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Hungary is a tiny country in Central Europe. Budapest, its capital city, holds the title City of Spas, as it has six thermal baths and more medicinal water springs than any other major city in the world.

We have already written about one of these baths (the Széchenyi Spa) in the summer, and now would like to continue the theme with another one, the Rudas Bath, nestled at the bottom of the Gellért Hill, in a picturesque spot in Buda.

The Rudas Bath on Gellért Hill

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Rudas is its unique tricolor exterior. Throughout the years several extensions were added to the core building, and the Natural Trust Of Historic Sites would only allow the facade to be reconstructed in this way. The central entrance hall, for example, did not exist until 1950, when the bath authority decided to join the bath to the neighboring swimming pool.

The Rudas reflects a combination of contemporary and old-world styles.

This swimming pool, which now operates as a therapeutic swimming facility with a sauna, was built in 1896. The pool’s temperature is a pleasant 29oC and there is no steam, so it is excellent for those who would like a little work out instead of relaxation. (The bath can be extremely steamy at opening time so we photographed the place when closed).

The swimming pool is a good place for a workout.

The main thermal bath is in the oldest part of Rudas. Built in 1566 during the period of Turkish occupation, the bath is about 210 years older than the USA and features some of Budapest’s most striking examples of Islamic architecture. During its history, there have only been small changes to the building and it structure, so it has preserved its strong Turkish character. The 450-year-old building deserves a visit for its eclectic atmosphere, with six baths whose temperatures range from 16-42oC. Each bath has its own special characteristics and unique appeal.

The sunken geothermal baths are a source of healing for visitors from all over the world.

The mineral components of the thermal water include sulphate, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate and a significant amount of fluoride ion. This means that the water is not only suitable for curious tourists who would like to take a dip in an atmospheric historical building, but for visitors seeking relief from degenerative joint illnesses, chronic joint inflammations, vertebral disk problems, neuralgia and lack of calcium in the bone system.

The spa's Turkish décor makes this setting unique.


Each bath has its own special characteristics.

Following Turkish tradition, Rudas is reserved for men on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Co-ed bathing is allowed on weekends, and on Tuesdays the spa is open to women only. Coed requires swimsuits, single sex does not. The Cinetrip organises weekend parties in the Rudas. These buoyant late-night music events offer a thermal water-based dancefoor for those seeking recreation that’s anything but ordinary.

The exotic decor of the Rudas Bath has caught Hollywood’s attention — Rudas was used as a location in the 1988 action movie Red Heat, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi. Come see for yourself why this thermal spa is considered to be one of the most desirable soaking destinations in the world.

Photographs and text copyright Krisztina Fazekas, 2013

Author: Anne Tourney

I am a registered nurse and freelance writer who specializes in health and nutrition topics. I have a background in medical-surgical nursing, behavioral health and geriatric nursing. My special interests include alternative health, massage and, of course, balneotherapy.

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