Lonely Planet says “Rudas Baths are the most Turkish of all in Budapest, built in 1566”

October 29th, 2013, 9am

Greece was occupied by the Turks for 400 years, yet the Turkish bath tradition never caught on, which is a pity, because there is something very spiritual, it seems to me, and deeply emotional about this communal experience. Something about getting closer to the inner you and feeling closer to others in a very primordial fashion; maybe the latter having to do with the bathers’ nakedness. I remember this nakedness from communal baths in Scandinavia. I remember thinking back then how un-Greek it is to bathe naked in front of others (not the same as bathing on a nudist beach, mind you); in our culture we are taught to hide our nakedness or put it on display, but for sexual reasons. This nakedness, however, is different; it’s a very humanizing nakedness; a nakedness that reminds you that our body is in many ways only a vehicle of sorts for what we carry inside and it may be beautiful, but it also eventually decays…I know, I am feeling philosophical today. I spent three hours in this marvelous bath this morning and maybe the heat got to me.

Rudas Baths was suggested by my Lonely Planet guide book and I am really glad I chose it today of all days because Tuesdays are for women only. As the tourist leaflet says “From 1936, the thermal spa was only open to men, but when the reconstruction work was completed in 2005, this brought a change to this policy. Ladies are now also welcome on Tuesdays and at weekends!” Sharing this experience with women was very touching; I might as well have been sharing it with my mother or my grandmother, most women in there were after all my mother’s or my grandmother’s age.

Lonely Planet says “these renovated baths are the most Turkish of all in Budapest, built in 1566” and I suggest you try them if you find yourselves here. You can choose if you want to try only the thermal baths or also use the swimming pool. I chose only the baths. If you get there between 9-12 am there is a discount. You pay 2300 Ft instead of 3000 Ft for the entire day (09.00-20.00). You can spend the entire day in there soaking in the medicinal waters and meditating. There is a central octagonal pool at 36° and four surrounding ones at 28°, 30°, 33° and 42°. You can hop from one to the next. There are also steam rooms and hot air rooms at 50° and 55° (the expression “sweating like a pig” applies in there) and a pool with really freezing water at 16° for you to plunge in at intervals. There are resting rooms, shower rooms, cabins (marvelous I may say!) for safe keeping of your belongings, a café and also you can book various treatments like massage or manicure when you buy your ticket. I had a 15 min massage and it was very relaxing.

What to bring with: your bathing suit (unless you prefer the suit you were given at birth), a towel for the showers (you are only given a sheet for the baths – to sit on in the saunas for example), bodywash & shampoo (it’s obligatory to pre-bathe), flip-flops. They provide you with a hairdryer. The staff is not very fluent in English so be ready for some gesturing and lots of smiling. They are quite friendly, however.

More info about Rudas Baths here: Rudas

I hope you go there and you enjoy them as much as I did!!

[For obvious reasons, taking photos is not allowed in the baths, so this is not my photo. I found it here: Rudas Bath Brigtens Up! ]

Craig said thanks.

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Maria Coveou

travel journalist, translator, freelance script supervisor for film & TV, film buff, lover of the written word and of music, blogger, vintage lover, '80s child, occasional flapper, Lindy hopper, traveler, thinker, dreamer, temporary alien [http://about.me/mariacoveou]

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