Hajdúszoboszló - the most popular spa city in Hungary
„Szoboszló is my picture book, I’m forever browsing through it: it’s great just to lose yourself in it all, in wonder, in solace, and learning in the process.”
- Ernő Szép wrote these words sometime during the first half of the 20th century. Such sentiments were rewarded when the town commissioned the statue of Szép now standing in the middle of the town (Kenézy u.). One can say without a doubt that many share Szép’s sentiments about the town even today, particularly those who come to this “Rheumatic Mecca” in search of relief. Following the destruction inflicted by the Tatars, the settlement remained depopulated until its rebirth during István Bocskai’s lifetime. In September 1606 the Prince of Transylvania, whose equestrian statue dominates Hősök tere in the middle of the town, gave the six hundred Haiduk horsemen a homeland in thanks for their support in fighting the Habsburgs during the Wars of Independence.
If you look at the present state of the town 1925 was indeed a very important year. Ferenc Pávai Vajna (whose bust can be seen in the park where the swimming pools are) was the head geologist when his team was looking for gas deposits on the edge of the town. Having drilled the necessary hole it was a strange smelling brown liquid that came shooting out of the earth. This “boiling gold” proved to be medicinal water containing a potent cocktail of minerals. The water’s medicinal qualities were only discovered a few weeks later when the women who were then using the waters to do their weekly washing discovered that they no longer suffered from the aches and pains they had been suffering from over the years. The balneologists, chemists and doctors then proceeded to do some scientific tests on the effects of the waters, a process which has continued up to this very day.
The swimming complex and the spa itself which stand next to road number 4 cover a huge area. Recently the spa has benefited from having been updated. It can now offer the very latest therapies. The swimming complex, one of the biggest in the country, is working hard to ensure that its guests manage to enjoy themselves with a minimum of worry. In addition, Hajdúszoboszló offers boating and indoor swimming, as well as the Aquapark, which was completed in the summer of 2000. In the middle of Great Hungarian Plain the Aquapark makes it possible to enjoy an experience not dissimilar to a day at the seaside.
The hotels in Hajdúszoboszló are lined up along Mátyás Király út. Most of them have their own medicinal waters and their own doctors and nurses. During the summer months the road becomes a busy pedestrian boulevard. The crowded streets, the coffee-houses and the brasseries all add to the spa’s unique atmosphere.
Next to Szilfákalja út you will find the recently constructed Byzantine-style Greek Catholic Church which serves a congregation of just a few hundred. The Roman Catholic Church on Bocskai utca (1776) is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, because it contains a fresco depicting the development of the town as a spa, and secondly, because Pope John Paul II. worshipped here when he was still known as Karol Wojtylla, Archbishop of Krakow. In the Bocskai Museum, which lies next door, there is a fine collection of folk artifacts: shepherd coats, women’s embroidered sheepskin coats and ornamental carriage ironwork. The work of the town’s twenty or so folk artists is also represented. If you are particularly interested in their work it is possible to commission a piece of embroidery, a carving, an ornamental whip or a piece of ironwork from the individual craftsmen themselves. Apart from the hotels, Hajdúszoboszló has guesthouses, private accommodation and two camping sites. There’s plenty going on during the summer months and both Debrecen and Hortobágy are within easy reach. You can go hot air ballooning and parachuting at the airport, where you can also try your hand at hang gliding.
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