If you travel with any frequency, either in the United States or abroad, occasionally you run across a swimming pool or public bath that is awe-inspiring in beauty… and cost. Obviously, the majority of us can’t afford to install pools that would cost millions of dollars, but it is possible to draw inspiration from these great works of art. You can’t have the entire Garden of Eden in your backyard, but you can have a piece of it.

Over the next few weeks, this blog will occasionally be taking a look at some Premier-class pools around the world that we believe truly epitomize the beauty of swimming pools, and that capture not just the function of a pool, but the immeasurable value of its form.

Swimming pools and spas, when designed, installed and maintained well, can be genuine works of art. But there are very few in the world that are as beautiful as the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest, Hungary.

Premier-Class Pools

Photo credit: WikiUser Aida (Creative Commons)

Premier-Class Pools: Budapest’s Széchenyi Medicinal Bath is literally breath-taking.

The Széchenyi Bath encompasses 15 indoor baths and 3 massive outdoor pools. Opened in 1913, the complex covers 67,000 square feet, and is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. One of our employees was fortunate enough to visit the bath in 2010, and was absolutely staggered by what he saw.

It isn’t the size that makes it so memorable, but the sights. The baths and the buildings that encompass them are Neo-Baroque and Renaissance-styled, with walkways around the pools studded with classical-style sculptures and metalwork. As you recline back in one of the many hot baths, you gaze up at vaulted ceilings covered with murals and domes decorated with mosaics emphasizing water-related mythological and historical motifs, including gods, goddesses, mermaids, and the development of agriculture and irrigation.

The baths are fed by a natural spring that runs more than 4,000 feet deep and measures about 170 degrees. The spring supplies the baths with 1.5 million gallons of water per day.

The bath complex manages to be both imposing and intimate—the outdoor pools seem as if they belong in the courtyard of a palace, while many of the indoor baths make you feel as if you’ve found a secret, long-lost oasis. You could easily spend an entire day at the complex, and it would be worth your while to do so. Don’t miss it if you have the opportunity to visit.