Swimming pools and baths: from antiquity to modern times

Swimming pools and baths: from antiquity to modern times

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Baths and thermaes – from antique until present times

Modern tourism often focuses on trips connecting care for health and for beauty. No wonder that baths and thermaes have recently become one of the most common tourist’s destinations of many Poles. Many travel agencies offer tempting possibilities of recreation in well-known thermaes which can be found in Slovakia as well as in Hungary. Poland is also becoming more and more attractive country in this field. Although such trips have just lately become fashionable, people were already interested in curative baths in the past.

How did the old baths look like? What was their role in the life of the people of that time?
Terms were already popular in ancient Rome and the citizens of this powerful empire knew the value of water. Their baths were extremely special places. It was not only a place of improving one’s mood in the water, but also a place of meetings. Using the curative treatments – such as baths, massages or steam baths – together was an important element of life in the ancient Rome. The most famous baths were located in Caracalla. It was the largest bath in Rome consisting of as much as four large pools. The baths were of course built not only on the territory of present Italy, but also in every place where Roman influences reached. There are many remains of them today all around Europe.

Except for Roman baths, there were also many Turkish baths around Europe. They are still popular. They became known in Europe when Turkey was expanding its territory to the Christian world in the 16th century. In the conquered territories, the Turks introduced traditions connected with bathing and beautiful baths which can still amaze. The Turks often used baths with thermal waters and they were also interested in steam baths. Many Turkish baths were built on the thermal springs which was a result of their deep respect for the water. Today, one of the places where many Turkish baths can be found is Budapest which have gained the reputation of extraordinary health resort thanks to those thermal springs. It is worth mentioning about the 19th century which was groundbreaking for baths. It was the time when sanatoriums and health results were developing quickly and the trips to water resorts were about to become extremely popular. In this century, baths were favoured, and facilities that were to serve the health resort patient were of higher and higher standard. The 19th century is also the time when Europe discovered Russian banyas and Finnish saunas.

Contemporary baths are mostly tourist attractions and important places of relaxation and entertainment. Many of them are visited because of their curative qualities, although there are also some pools typically entertaining. Water parks and thermal pools have become special places in the 21st century. They are quite willingly visited by tourists or patients. In Poland the most popular thermal baths are in Szalfary and Bukowina Tatrzańska. Poles also often visit Slovakian baths such as Senec, Galanta, Liptowski Mikulasz or Trenczyńskie Cieplice (and those are only the most known ones). Hungary also offer many beautiful baths, Budapest itself has a wide range of offers in this field, many other astonishing baths can be found in other regions of the country. For instance Gyor, Miszkolc or Gyula are only chosen baths in the extraordinarily attractive offer in Hungary.

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