Hace más de dos mil años, los celtas fundaron un poblado cerca de unos manantiales de agua mineral y lo denominaron Ak-ink, que significa “agua abundante”. Este se convirtió en la actual Budapest, la capital de Hungría y una de las ciudades más antiguas de Europa. Sus primitivos fundadores de cuando en cuando gustaban de […]
More than two thousand years ago, the Celts founded a town near mineral water springs and called it Ak-ink, which means “abundant water”. This became the current Budapest, the capital of Hungary and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Their primitive founders from time to time liked to take a bath in the hot springs, because it comforted them and also relieved their pains.
In the first century of our era, the region fell into the hands of the Romans, who expanded the town and built a military camp they called Aquincum. It is believed that the name derives from the Celtic word for water or from the Latin expression aqua quinque, which means “five waters”. The Romans built aqueducts, sewers and public and private baths. So Budapest spas have a long history.
Centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the baths became popular again. The writers of the fifteenth century praised the hot springs near the Hungarian capital, which made it very famous. It is said that King Matías Corvino, who reigned from 1458 to 1490, had his favorite spa, the Rácz, connected to the royal castle through a covered passageway, thus ensuring access regardless of weather conditions.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Turks occupied much of Hungary, including its capital. They built facilities for taking steam and hot water baths – important elements in Turkish social life – where they performed the rituals of purification of Islam. Its magnificent spas consisted of pools with water up to shoulder height, surrounded by steps, baths and resting places, and topped with domes. The spas, some of which are still in use, were used alternately by men and women.
A travel chronicle of 1673 said that spas in the area now known as Budapest were among the best in Europe for “its abundant thermal baths and their therapeutic effects, as well as for the size and beauty of their buildings”. In the 19th century, the spa culture grew with the incorporation of the steam bath, or sauna, of Finnish origin. Over time, sauna baths, steam rooms and cold-water pools were part of Budapest spas.
Of the 123 hot springs and 400 springs of bitter water emanate 70,000,000 liters per day. Where does so much water come from? The answer lies in the geology of the area.
The Danube River, which crosses Budapest, separates the hills of Buda, on the western margin, from the flat terraces of Pest, on its eastern shore. In the remote past, the sea must have covered the area, accumulating limestone and dolomite; In turn, these rocks were covered with layers of clay, loam, sand and coal.
Fissures in the earth’s crust allow rainwater to reach great depths, where it is heated on contact with burning rocks of high mineral content. Then, due to the high pressures, the water emerges to the surface in the form of vapor spilling, either through the cracks, or through the wells.
This geological phenomenon occurs not only in Budapest, but throughout Hungary; hence, many localities also presume to have beautiful spas and waters rich in minerals, which are attributed medicinal and healing properties.
We still have much to learn from the complexities of our planet.