Lake Velence, the lake of sunshine

After the gastro-tour at Balaton, we are wandering towards another frequented summer destination. Lake Velence became a popular touristic centre primarily because of its nearness and its slowly-deepening sandy beaches. The lake was not always this gentle and peaceful, at the beginning of the 20th century its surface was hardly visible due to the thick reed. The area was threatened by becoming a moorland, and by floods and drying as well. Fortunately, none of these dangers menace today, all you have to do is enjoy the lukewarm water and the fine sand under your soles.

Origin of the name Velence

Probably many people wondered where the name Velence came from. It has not been cleared completely, but the most likely version is that it got its name after the ancient fishing tool that indicated winds and its folkish name was ‘velence’ (anemoscope).
Strandfürdő, Agárd - képeslap, 1959 - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThe fact is that the name Velencepuszta appeared at a property listing as early as 1702, then the lake was called Lake Velence after the name of the settlement. Before that, it had been simply mentioned as ‘marsh’, just like most fishponds. The area was inhabited even in the Stone Age, and later Romans and peoples of the Migration Period also got about there. Its territory was more than twice as big as it is today, and its water-level was 3-4 metres higher than it is now.

Highs and lows

Strandfürdő, Agárd - képeslap, 1962 - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDNot having a natural water channel, it flooded in rainy years so the farmers on the southern coast demanded its drainage more and more furiously. This is the reason why they say that the lake has been planned to be drained since Queen Maria Theresa. Although a lot of plans were prepared, none of them were realised finally, fortunately. On the other hand, the drying of the lake is a returning topic in every 100 years – at the beginning of the 1990s last time. Water-level fell under the limit value several times due to droughty periods, but it is not surprising as Lake Velence – unlike Lake Balaton – depends considerably on the amount of rainfall.

Holiday resort on the reed plot

Strandszálló - képeslap, Agárd, 1930-as évek - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDDespite the disordered state of the lake, it was an attractive destination. The first milestone on the way towards becoming a holiday location was the construction of the Southern Railway in 1861. The railway favoured especially Gárdony among the surrounding settlements so much that it became a popular holiday village by the 1930s. The development started also in Agárd – the twin town of Gárdony – with the allotment of the Nádasdy property by selling the parcelled holiday sites. There was a holiday resort for the ministry of finance and also for the bookbinder workers. The first hotel ‘Strandszálló’ (Hotel Lido) was built in Agárd, too. During the 1970s, developments continued: Park Lido and the free beach were built, Napsugár (Sunbeam) Lido was modernised and the Touring-Hotel was finished.
During the same period, the regulation of the lake started: a reservoir at Császár-víz and a sluice-gate at Dinnyés were constructed. The Bay of Velence was dredged out and flanked with a stone wall put in concrete, and the shore was backfilled. Releasing the burdens of Lake Balaton was a conscious policy resulting that Lake Velence developed into an important holiday place, whose renaissance still prevails.

Translated by Zita Aknai


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