Anyone researching the history of Balatonfüred will quickly face the obvious fact that the natural conditions of the village were primarily conducive to vine-growing. The bathing culture, so famous today, could only start later, after the railway network was connected.
In the reform era, it was a popular meeting place for progressive politicians and artists, but bathing in the lake was not fashionable for a long time. As usual, the settlement was enriched with many monuments and important buildings during this period. In 1825, the first Anna Ball was held in the Horváth House. The renowned spa doctor István Huray also had a holiday home here, and the Dőry Villa (now the Astoria Hotel), famous for its lively social life, is not to be left out of the list.
From villa to villa
The sour-water of the village, which is beneficial for various cardiovascular ailments, was first mentioned in 1717 in contemporary sources. The villas of those seeking cure also began to proliferate, only to be halted by the 1848 War of Independence. As private construction was not possible after the war, the building of holiday homes was also discontinued. A change only occurred after 1865, when Abbot Simon Zsigmond of Tihany and Archabbot Dr. Krizosztom Kruesz of Pannonhalma Archabbey applied to the king for permission to parcel out about 11 acres of land. Their request was granted, thus another 30 building plots could be offered for sale. Thus, Mrs. Lajos Szűcs (later Cséry Villa, and later Blaha Lujza's Villa), Lajos Dőry, Mór Jókai and Róza Laborfalvi were able to buy land and build villas. They were built exclusively for holiday purposes in the early period, and the change of function only took place decades later, until they became inhabited permanently.
Mór Jókai's first visit to Füred in 1857 had such an impact on him and his wife, Róza Laborfalvi, that they became regular guests of the village from that time onwards. 10 years later, they bought a plot of land on which the villa, now a memorial museum, stands. The villa, built in the early eclectic style, was not fully finished in the autumn of 1870, but the Jókai family took possession of it in the summer of that year, and from its terrace, they could admire the view of Lake Balaton and Tihany. Several of Jókai's novels are linked to Füred, such as The Man with the Golden Touch and Black Diamonds, but he also wrote several short stories, tales and articles on the spa for the newspapers of the capital. After the death of his wife, in early 1889, Jókai sold the villa to János Michelini, a grain merchant from Veszprém. In 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the author's death, the one and only Jókai Memorial Museum in the country was opened in the building. Since 1992, every May, on the anniversary of the writer's death, the series of events Jókai Days commemorate his life.
The former favourite nest of the “nation's nightingale” (Lujza Blaha) in Balatonfüred was originally built by Mór Jókai's aunt in 1861. Widow Mrs. Lajos Szűcs was the first in the family to buy a plot of land in the village, then called Savanyúvíz (sour-water), and had a beautiful holiday home built in classicist style. She was the one who accommodated the Jókai couple after the writer married Róza Laborfalvi, who was much older than he was, and was therefore disowned by his family. The cottage itself consisted of one building; the second wing was only added after the Second World War, when it became a holiday resort. It is undoubtedly one of the most famous buildings in Füred, built in the neoclassical style and dating back more than 140 years. The façade of the former villa, which now faces Blaha Lujza Street, has retained its original shape despite the extension. According to an inscription on the façade, it was the favourite nest of the "nation's nightingale" between 1893 and 1916. According to the list of the spa guests, contrary to the inscription, the artist was already staying in the neighbouring Huray Villa in 1916.
The towered Vaszary Villa can be seen from afar. Its denominator, Prince Primate Kolos Vaszary, came to Balatonfüred to recuperate, and later became a regular visitor to the town. In 1892, he had his towered summerhouse built, which can be visited as a gallery nowadays. After his death, the building was sold up with all its contents, and by the 1920s, it had been converted into a military officers’ holiday resort. The west wing of the building was completed in 1927. It was used by the Soviet army from the 1950s until the change of regime.
The emblematic lakeside building of Füred, where almost everyone stops by, or at least visits once, is the Vitorlás (Sailing Boat) Restaurant. The Vitorlás was originally a shipyard, because in the 1870s the British Consul General Gossling wanted to bring a ship to Lake Balaton and at the same time invited the renowned English master shipbuilder Richard Young to Hungary. Young built a shipyard on the shore of the lake, the predecessor of the present Vitorlás Restaurant. The first wooden building was completed in 1880, and in the same year, Young's workshop built the first sailing boat, the SENTA. The lake was populated by the boats built here, Count Ferenc Nádasdy's Hableány (Mermaid), Antal Zichy's Lucifer. It was also the place where Count Tasziló Festetics ordered his little screw-steamship and where Géza Andrássy's Álmom (My Dream) was launched. Richard Young founded the Stefánia Yacht Club in 1884, but a year later he left Hungary and the club and the workshop were taken over by Mihály Esterházy. In 1887, the Clubhouse was built, which soon became a favourite meeting place for the aristocrats of the Monarchy and later the emblematic waterfront restaurant of the whole of Lake Balaton.
Walking along the corner of Jókai Street and Blaha Lujza Street, a round building with a dome-shaped, Ionic colonnade is the odd one out in our selection. The Round Church, designed by Antal Fruhman and built between 1841 and 1846, somewhat reminds us of the Roman Pantheon. The plot was bought from János Sipos Bertók and the foundation stone was laid on 21 September 1841. However, the money ran out during the work, so the Benedictine Abbey of Tihany, which had built it, borrowed money from Count Róbert Zichy in 1845 to continue the construction. Abbot Béla Bresztyenszky of Tihany Abbey performed the consecration on 21 June 1846. The church still blends perfectly in with the fabric of the town.
Translated by Zita Aknai