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Budapest spas: urgent facelift required

Sights

Most of Budapest's healing bath houses are ripe for renovation, a blogger of French news agency AFP reported from Hungary. 

The Hungarian capital city's 50-odd baths are a major tourist magnet for Budapest, also known as the "world spa capital" - ranging from 500-year-old Turkish pools to more modern Art Nouveau spa complexes, AFP blogger writes in her post.

But the state of the facilities is as varied as their styles, and much of the work done so far has involved cosmetic or emergency fixes as a shortage of funds hampers the constant battle against the baths' complete disintegration, she adds.

No mason since the 1950s has set foot in the state-owned Király spa - one of the oldest and grandest in Budapest, built in 1565. The result is crumbling mortar, rusty pipes and an overspilling Turkish pool below a dome dotted with tiny circular windows each with its own trail of black rot.

"It is ripe for renovation", she quotes Lászlo Mikó, an architect involved in planning the reconstruction, citing bureaucratic authorisation processes.

No funding source has yet been identified for Király's facelift, AFP learned from local authorities.

Local government financing taps were closed five years ago by the then-leadership of Budapest, but a new municipality last year approved a one-off  710-million-forint (€2.5-million) injection for the general management of the baths, as well as restoration work.

With state money in short supply in tough economic times, 80 percent of the Rudas renovation, which cost nearly 500 million forints (€1.8-million), was funded by the European Union, according to Gyorgy Kozak, development director of Budapest Healing Baths and Hot Springs Ltd.

The spa company, which is municipality-owned and operates 13 baths and open-air pools in the city, including some of its more elegant ones, plans to apply for more EU funding for its other facilities as well.



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