Most of the city of Budapest is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its beautiful architecture of the time of the Hapsburgs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But it has another beauty underneath, the geology. The Romans and then the Turks settled here because of the geothermal, mineral-rich waters which bubble up from an extensive cave system under the city. The dolomite and limestone hills of Buda, are full of not only thermal springs, but an extensive cave system. In the 1930s, the city was known as the “City of Baths” and before modern medicine, people came from all around to soak in the medicinal waters.
Yesterday we toured the Palvolgyi Cave and swam in the spa of the Gellert Hotel. The hotel is beautiful, being fully restored to its Art Nouveau architecture style in 2008. The lobby alone is worth visiting and walking through the hotel and in the baths is truly breath taking. The kids enjoyed the 36 degree waters looking over the city last night. The baths are not as crowded as the Szechenyi, but lack the whirlpool and have less outdoor pools. It was fun to go from the hot pool to the cold tub and back.
We took the tour of the Palvolgyi Cave and the kids really enjoyed going through the narrow passages of the limestone. They did a nice job of stairs, ladders, and lighting to make it accessible to the public. It would be an adventure to do a more extensive tour of the many cave systems nearby, and someday when the kids are a bit older, that would be a good experience for us.
Today is our last day in Budapest before heading back to Belgrade to celebrate Christmas. It was a relaxing way to start the holidays.