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Healthy Route through the Western Trans-Danube, the paradise of the Wellness.

THE ISLAND OF THE Baths

We arrive to the last floor of the Danubius Grand Hotel. A privileged watchtower that offers us a panoramic view of indescribable beauty: the Danube waters reflecting the noble buildings of the Real Palace in the hills of Buda and the Parliament in Pest. We admire the historical combined harmonic and the sparkling lights of the majestic Bridge of the Chains. It is like a magic print of Buda and Pest hugging themselves at dusk.

Who doesn't surrender to the charm of Budapest?

This is what I ask to my route partners that for the first time were contemplating the elegant Hungarian capital, one of the most beautiful cities of Europe.

Even the waters of the romantic Danube flow slowly and goes majestic along the banks of Buda and its Royal Spas and the modern and vital Pest that gather a valuable monumental patrimony, declared Humanity's Patrimony by the UNESCO.

BRIDGE OF THE CHAINS AND THE REAL PALACE ON THE DANUBE

 

The group continues fascinated by the impressive spectacle. But the night little by little dispels the silhouettes of the bridges and buildings and we return to the reality. We still have a lot to travel through and more to discover.

We all coincide that Margaret Island is a gift to the city of Budapest. Perhaps for this reason is also know as "the Island of the Baths." The paintings and murals that decorate the walls of one of the plants of the Danubius Grand Hotel are the testimony. Our kind companion-guide explains the meaning of each one, allowing us to review the history.

Apparently, Archduke Joseph took the initiative to explore and to develope the springs of hot water, being supervised the work by the engineer of mines Vilmos Zsigmondy. The original idea was to develop an international centre of bath.

A park area was created and the remarkable architect Miklos Ybl (1814-1891) was entrusted to design the facilities of baths and lodging. The Spa of Saint Margaret of neo-Renaissance style opened up in 1869. It was the most modern spa in Europe and also the most harmonious and attractive creation of Miklos Ybl.

The swimmers moved to the island from Pest and Buda by means of steam ships. There they went for a romantic walk in a carriage driven by horses along the island, from the lower part to the spa. This happened up to 1928.

According to Miklos Ybl's original plans, the high portion, the north of the island, should be the centre of the spa culture of the country. He projected, two big hotels close to the river banks, in both sides of the island. Eventually only one was built that looks toward Pest, to which he used a neo-Renaissance style similar to that of the spa.

The restaurant, the baths, the hotel, the steam boat for transport and the carriages of the walks, all of them are complementary and depending each other.

The Hotel Palatinus of three plants and 162 rooms was opened in the year of the unification, offering all the modern services to its clients.

The elegantly furnished rooms, The bathrooms with thermal water in the pipes, the "Kursalon", the library, the medical services and the Grand Restaurante, all according to its splendor. Illumination by gas, water by pipe and laundry with vapor was also part of the modern services. Near the Hotel there were a pharmacy and a post office.

It was a hotel located in the center of Budapest that had become an international city. Far from the noise and the estrés of a great city, the hotel offered peace and tranquility, rest and thermal therapies. It was as a small paradise.

From 1877 the famous Hungarian poet and translator of Shakespeare, Janos Arany remained here and under his favorite oak, he created the great works of his last years.

After the First World War, began the works of construction of the wings of the hotel and the section "sanatorium" that was opened in 1926. The thermal water of 73ºC was installed in all the rooms. Regenerative courses were introduced for the oldest people.

The chemical composition of the water was: alkaline, sulphurous, rich in carbon, particularly recommended for articulations problems, herpes, paralysis caused by infarct and nervous exhaustion. The Inhalations good for the mouth, the throat and the respiratory system, and the drink cures helped in stomach and intestinal problems.

PANORAMIC PICTURE OF THE ISLAND AND THE TWO HOTELES DANUBIUS

 

In 1934 the Grand Hotel was modernized and a rest room of marble in the entrance greets the visitors. In the old stairway, upholstered furniture, decorated cabinets and beautiful persian carpets. The renovation includes elements such as the automatic telephone, a new press room and all this "with luxury, modernity and aesthetic beauty comparable to the best establishments in the world." As it is said in the hotel brochure.

In 1936 several rooms of the western side were endowed with arow of balconies. Was created a parking for 150 vehicles and a highway that went through a garden of rocks and waterfalls. The restaurant of the Great Hotel consisted on three curved sections. The centre was massive and the sections left and right were the "wings" .

Large windows offered a magnificent view. Glass lamps hung from the roof. The seats were made of ebony, bent cane and cushions of green velvet.

From 1930 the entirety upper part of Margaret Island became a famous international tourist attraction. Its hotels, medical services, restaurants and entertainments, reached the maximum deluxe level.

In that period the hotel welcomed many remarkable guests from all over the world, so much of the art as of the high society. Among them the King of Italia Víctor Manuel and the Reina Farida of Egypt with her two daughters, one of those which was the girlfriend of a prince heir of Persia.

In accordance with the social rumors of the time, The escort of Farida while she was in Pest, was Miklos Horthy junior, the comely and elegant son of Hungarian Regent's. Another real guest was the Maharaja of the Indian state of Kapurtala who frequently requested tournedó s Rossini and other usually forbidden plates for the Hindus.

In 1937 the Prince of Wales visited Hungary. According to the society chronicles..." the chef of the Hotel later realized that "it was only a scarce day visiting our island, with his attractive girlfriend?." They ate in the restaurant of the Grand Hotel. They requested lucio and perch of the Balaton with Dutch sauce. They were in the hotel during the afternoon. In the evening they went to see the famous show of the Grill Parisian.

We stop before a magnificent mural of the Hotel Palatinus of 1942 (the original lithograph as well as those of the other paintings exhibitedf in Danubius Great Hotel, are conserved in the National Museum of Budapest).

The majestic building surrounded by trees and in the foreground, several recreation boats sailing along of the Danube, it shows the bucolic panorama of that moment. Nothing was denouncing what will come later: the Second World War and the end to all the luxury and high level of life and relax in Margaret Island.

Around the Great Hotel antiaircraft batteries would be settled and the whole of the "charming island" soon became a battle field. Its beautiful buildings were damaged and the Spa totally destroyed. The siege of Budapest lasted from the Christmas 1944 up to February 12 1945.

The Great Hotel suffered serious damages. The chaos and disorder them they helped the sackers that crossed by boats toward the island to steal in the abandoned and burned buildings and all that had been the days of pomp and glory. However the month of August of 1948 saw the reopening of the Grand Hotel that was reconstructed with public securities.

PICTURE OF THE FACADE OF THE CURRENT DANUBIUS GRAND HOTEL


 
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