Gellert Bath opened in 1918 offering medicinal water treatments using the same deep underground springs the Knights of St John used in the 12th century, and later on the Turks to feel the invigorating powers of the mineral rich waters.
The Gellért Baths complex includes inside small pools for medical treatments and a spacious swimming pool, all containing water from Gellért hill’s mineral hot springs. The water rich in calcium, magnesium, sulfate, hydrocarbonate, alkalis and fluoride. Medical indications of the water includes degenerative joint illnesses, spine problems, chronic and sub-acute joint inflammations, vertebral disk problems, neuralgia, vasoconstriction and circulatory disturbances; inhalation problems for the treatment of asthma and chronic bronchitis problems. But you far must not be ill to enjoy the bath’s facilities. The inside pools and also the three outside pools are open summer and winter alike. In the big outside pool operates the world’s first wavepool, installed in Gellert Bath in 1927. The temperature of the water is between 35 °C and 40 °C
The present bath complex was built between 1912 and 1918 in the (Secession) Art Nouveau style. Before that in the 16th century, when the Ottoman Turks occupied the Hungarian Kingdom and captured the royal palace known as the Buda Castle atop the Castle Hill, there was a Turkish Bath built in the present place of Gellert Spa. This Turkish bath was called Acik Iliye, according to the prolific medieval Turkish traveller and travel writer, Evliya Celebi of the Ottoman Empire. To quote from his works:
‘They are visiting the hot springs on coaches. It is useful for the French disease and 7 more diseases. The bath is to be used in the following manner: once your body is red hot, you are to come out of the pool, and keep yourself warm.’
In 1686, after the Buda Castle Siege, when Buda was recaptured from the Turks by the Austrian Army, the bath became the property of the home doctor / personal practitioner of Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia. In the 17th century, the natural mineral pools by Gellert Hill were known as ‘Muddy Pools’ where the murky waters were mixed with lots of mineral rich mud, thick fine and silky mud layers sitting at the bottom of the naturally hot spring water pools.
Gellert baths were incredibly popular by the 19th century when more and more Budapest citizens and foreign travellers wanted to get the benefits of aqua therapy, new pools, new baths were built to cater for the huge demand for relaxation, spa treatments, and water fun. The original bath building of Gellert Spa and Baths was destroyed at the end of the 19th century to give way to the newly constructed Liberty Bridge . At the same time, a new and ambitious design was realized for the world class bath, St Gellert Spa Baths. Many tenders were submitted, and eventually the most precious plans for a beautiful Art Nouveau palace were accepted. The bath was named after St Gellert (St Gerhard) just as the hill above it, the Italian bishop who was the first bishop of Hungary in the 11th century.
The bath closed only once in its almost century long existence due to a burst pipe. The Gellért was open even during World War II. Towards the end of the war the prestigious Art Nouveau women’s thermal bath was bombed, destroying the Zsolnay pyrogranite facade and the wooden interior of the dressing rooms. Due to economic condition following the war, the thermal bath was redesigned in a much more puritanical manner, but the 2008 reconstruction served to restore the bath to its original splendor.