“Our country abounding in natural treasures is so rich in medicinal watering places that it can compete with any other countries trustingly. Among these medicinal places, the first and most excellent place is Balatonfüred, which is as practical as desirable, and can boast with innovations and equipment that promote attracting masses of visitors and that the owner of this scenic bathing resort the Benedictine Order implemented with honourable zeal.” – Esztergom és Vidéke, 1889
Everything started in 1743 with a medicinal spring “enframed in a den”
At least, regarding the fame and popularity of Balatonfüred:
“Owing to Ágoston Lécs, abbot of Tihany, people started to know about Balatonfüred and appreciate its medicinal springs. The abbot had one of the springs and surroundings cleaned, had the spring enframed in a den and built a simple wooden house next to it in 1743. Nearby landowners constructed board huts and lived there during summers. In 1748, a small inn and a bathing hut were built next to the spring. After six years, the buildings were enlarged because the number of visitors increased significantly. In 1764, several bungalows were constructed and the Abbey also had a larger lodging house built, which had five guest rooms already.” – Nyírvidék, 1925
Scandals and flood of complaints generated fame
Negative publicity, no matter how startling criticism or scandal it is, might have a serious advertising value. This was the case in Balatonfüred too. Paradoxically, critical news reports and related positive opinions of experts increased further the popularity of the place.
“In 1775, a heavy downpour ruined the simple furniture. Nevertheless, it did not damage the watering place, because it revived in a more beautiful form. A protective wall was built behind the spring. Bathing guests did not like the new order. They made complaints. Thus, two university professors were sent there to examine the spring. Their positive opinion spread and it made Füred famous. Emperor Joseph II of Austria revoked the ownership of the Abbey of Tihany, annexed it to the foundation of sciences and started the development of the medicinal bath of Füred. He ordered a bath doctor, a surgeon and a chemist there in 1785.” – Nyírvidék, 1925
Where the duchess recovered twice
A famous person’s statement – due to its news value – often proves to be important publicity even if its truth content can be questioned.
“After the emperor’s death, Balatonfüred fell back into the ownership of the Abbey of Tihany. Afterwards, the Abbey and several Hungarian families built decorative buildings in Balatonfüred. The first cold bath was established in 1819. Two years later, they constructed a hospital for the poor. The great Palatine, Archduke Joseph also visited the place with his family, and the Duchess quite got over her illness due to the baths of the Balaton. Three years later, she recovered again in Balatonfüred, and as the news spread, people’s interests turned to Füred increasingly.” – Nyírvidék, 1925
The fruit of Sándor Kisfaludy’s patriotic ambition: the first Hungarian National Theatre
Although the case of building a theatre in Balatonfüred was motivated by patriotic zeal, its fate was sealed, because it did not satisfy visitors’ requirements unfortunately.
“It happened in 1830 that the leading men of the country met in Balatonfüred, and affirmed to Sándor Kisfaludy’s initiation that they would do their best to have the first Hungarian national theatre built in Balatonfüred, because the Hungarian theatre did not have a permanent shelter in this country. Words were followed by actions, and Sándor Kisfaludy filed his written initiative to Zala County and the general assembly dealt with it in August of 1830. The initiative found giant supporters like Ferencz Deák, Antal Deák and László Csány. The national pain of three hundred years cried out in these speeches, and Csány said in his famous speech among others ‘We have to protect our ancient constitution; we have to save our ancient liberty. We gained them all by blood, not for free and not by God’s mercy. But most of all, we have to protect and raise our sweet mother tongue, and we must not endure that any foreign languages put it behind themselves in our country.’” – Magyar Paizs, 1907
“In 1823 and 1824, there were fundraisings in order to establish a permanent theatre, owing to Sándor Kisfaludy’s sedulity. The theatre was opened and the country’s most famous actors of the period played there. The Kisfaludy Theatre was found tight and warm besides the great interest, thus under the leadership of Count Manó Zichy, they decided to build a summer theatre. They began building today’s theatre in 1861, and dramatic performances started in the following year. However, as the auditorium was opened, the audience got showers in rainy weather. To avoid that, they launched a new fundraising led by Baron Miklós Bánffy, and as a result, the theatre received a new roof. The Kisfaludy Theatre was pulled down and today’s decorative medicinal saloon was constructed behind it.” – Nyírvidék, 1925
What roused even the king’s interest
Who would not jerk their heads up, for something that roused even the king’s interest?
“In 1852, the king saw Balatonfüred as well; in memory of this, the main spring was named Franz Joseph Well. The king returned to Balatonfüred in 1857. Lake Balaton was drained in 1865 in order to eradicate the reeds of Somogy. The water withdrew and the lower esplanade of Balatonfüred was formed then. The still existing large swimming pool was built in the following year. Mór Jókai’s summer house of Balatonfüred was built in 1870. (…) The Stephanie Yacht Club was established, operating lively activities, and the most illustrious families of the country participated in water sports.” – Nyírvidék, 1925
Translated by Zita Aknai