St Gellért Spa together with the Springhouse in front give a unique ambience to St Gellért Square adjoining Liberty Bridge on the Buda side. Gellért Spa including a large hotel is one of the biggest spa complexes in Budapest. With a more than a hundred years’ history it is among the most popular places of the capital.
Its predecessor was built during the reign of Andrew II in the 13th century and it included even a hospital as well. During the Turkish rule it was supposedly an open air bath (Acsik ilidzsa in Turkish) greatly preferred for its larger size and hotter water. As Christianity prevailed again bath culture declined. According to some historic sources underground springs were used for healing by St Ivan at the time. The springs in the tunnels he carved are 15 meters below surface, however, they are no longer in use today as they mix with floodwater of Danube.
The tunnel extending longer than one kilometer connects Gellért, Rudas and Rác Spas. Various concepts were developed to utilize it, e.g. a therapeutic cave train connecting the spas. The main district heating pipes run along this tunnel from the Kelenföld Power Plant and Karfiol Cave, aka Cave of Virgins is also accessible from here.
After the retake of Buda the bath was owned by Leopold I’s doctor Frigyes Illmer, and later by lawyer Szilárd Koischor through property swaps and dowry. He extended the spa and constructed small bedrooms and bathrooms. The spa was named as Muddy Bath because of the sludge settled at the bottom of pools.
During the construction of approach roads to Ferenc József Bridge, currently known as Liberty Bridge in 1894 slopes of Gellért Hill rising directly from the river bed were carved and Muddy Bath was pulled down. Later in the general concept for the development of Budapest the construction of spas gained a top priority in order to benefit from the abundance of natural hot springs. Besides St Gellért Spa, Rudas Spa and Rác Spa are also based on hot springs of Buda. A tender for reconstruction design was issued in the first decade of the 20th century.
The current Gellért Hotel and Spa was built from 1912 to 1917 by the design of Artúr Sebestyén, Ármin Hegedűs and Izidor Sterk and opened in 1918. Gellért Beerhouse opened the same year matching the hotel and spa in style. The spa complex was the first luxurious facility in Budapest and also the most state-of-the-art spa in Europe. However, extension works began right after opening. In 1927 an open-air pool, in 1934 an outdoor hut tub was constructed. From the 1920s the hotel was accessible not only by car but plane also as a floatplane station was built on the bank of the Danube.
WWII imposed a reconstruction burden of 30 years. In the golden era before WWII there were several famous foreign visitors among the guests of the hotel, e.g. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands spending her honeymoon there, Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore or violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Pool supervisor Sándor Pusztai took photos in 1930-1939 of some illustrious guests of the era such as Minister of Culture Kuno Klebelsberg, literary historian Baron Lajos Hatvany and writer Frigyes Karinthy, just to name a few. In 2012 an exhibition called "Ministers in underwear” featured some of these photos.
The recreational complex was built in Secession style with Baroque-style domes. The arched main entrance is decorated with grandiose sculptures by József Róna as allegories of healing. Indoor pools include 5 thermal pools, 2 immersion pools and a swimming pool. The thermal pool area is decorated with sculptures, lead glass and Zsolnay ceramics. The swimming pool is surrounded by a gallery granting access to the snack bar and outdoor pools. Through portholes of the corridors along the swimming pool water is visible from below too.
The entrance hall covered by colored mosaics is adjoined by the glass roofed central hall. The decorative windows of the hall were made by glass painter Miksa Róth by the designs of painter Vince Hende. They feature some scenes of the “Death of Buda” written by János Arany. The end of the central hall is decorated with sculptures of Venus and Cupid by Adolf Huszár. Sculptures symbolizing three seasons (Spring by Mihály Dabóczi, Summer by Béla Szabados, Autumn by Károly Stöckert) were placed in the entrance hall in 1961. The garden was finished after WWII featuring sculptures of outstanding artists of the century with “Children” by Ede Telcs and “Fight with the Hydra” by Aladár Gárdos.
The thermal pool area used to be gender segregated until 2013. As a result of a general reconstruction in 2007-2008 Gellért Spa regained its original shape keeping its old interior design. Water treatment technology was also replaced. Besides healing and beauty therapies, massage, steam bath, sun terrace, salt chamber and even dental services are also available in the spa. Another unique feature there is a Finnish sauna in the garden providing a panoramic view on Gellért Hill.
Just opposite of the spa entrance the Spring House aka Gellért Well was built in 2002-2003 by the plans of Sándor Dévényi, who was in charge of the design of remodeling the whole square. Although originally the well was planned with spring water it currently operates with tap water.
- Phone: +36 1 466 61 66
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Web: www.gellertfurdo.hu
- Opening hours:
- Monday-Sunday: 6:00-20:00
A scenic walk on Gellért Hill A World Heritage Site, a landmark of Budapest, cradle of hot springs, a witness of our history, the best date location and a place with the greatest view over Budapest. A scenic walk from top to bottom from St Gellért Square through the Arboretum of Buda to the Lake Feneketlen.