Small town of 13,500 inhabitants,
centre of the north-eastern region of Balaton, the first medical resort town of Hungary.
The town was built on the wide, shiny side of Balaton Riviera, protected by 300-metre high hills against cold winds. There are vineyards and fruit gardens on hills of southern slope. Balatonfüred is the centre of the historic wine region named after the town.
There had been six villages on the territory of the current city, some of them had been depopulated because of the Turkish times and then the destructions of Kuruts-Labanc wars. It is quite interesting and surprising that the fame of this mellow old resort is originally due not to Balaton but theaerated springs rushing up at the lake-shore. The water had been used for the purpose of drinking treatments, and as from the 1730s also for bathing (warmed up).
Water of the springs was first analyzed in 1772 (upon the order of Queen Maria Theresa); the first physician of the watering-place was appointed in 1786. Medical power of the water is applied for treating heart diseases in the Heart Hospital currently, too. Majority of the buildings was destroyed by a large fire in 1826 that is why the current image created by the historic monuments of Medicinal Square (Gyógy tér) was developed only in course of the 19th century. Goldenage of the spa was the reform period. At that time it was a patriotic gesture to visit Füred instead of various medicinal places abroad. Great people of the country visited Balatonfüred one after another, a theatre was also built here in 1831, and then in 1846 the first steamship of Balaton called "Kisfaludy" was set afloat here.
The Abbey of Tihany divided its domain around the bath into allotments, at that time the construction of villas which can be seen currently, too, commenced. The oldest and most significant historic monument of the city is the St. Mihály church registered in records already in 1211. It was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. Today only the ruins of the church restored in 1966 can be seen. Reformed church of neo-Classic style, consecrated in 1830, is built in the centre of the old city of Füred. It is especially valuable because the original furniture of the church remained completely. The well-house was erected above the Kossuth Lajos spring in the middle of Gyógy square in 1853. The oldest parts of the Sanatorium were built in 1748. Construction of the "Cure Saloon" (currently cultural hall) was completed in 1878. Memorial tablets of the Füred Pantheon are placed under its arcades as memories of the writers, artists and scientists who had a significant role in the life of the resort. The wonderful Tagore promenade lined with plane-trees was created in 1863, subsequent to the hand-over of Sió channel. The various masterpieces of the fine arts exhibited in the promenade make it a real park of sculptures. The Round Church of neo-Classic style, handed over in 1864, is one of the most characteristic buildings of Balatonfüred. In the neighbourhood of the Round Church, in the summer villa of Jókai Mór constructed in 1871 in eclectic style, the life of the great author in Füred is shown to the public in the form of an exhibition. Several programmes based on tradition are offered to the visitors of Balatonfüred.
Traditional programmes in Balatonfüred
These programmes include the outstanding Reception of the First Ship, which is a symbolic moment of the opening of the shipping season. Every spring (at the beginning of April) the first ship of the season leaves Siófok and it is received with a ceremony in the port of Balatonfüred.
Since 1935, except 3 years, the Sail-Setting Ceremony of Balatonfüred has been held every year in May, which has become the symbol of the opening of sailing season as well as that of the summer season in the past decade. The series of programmes include sports and cultural events. The first sailing competitions start at that time, along with the first performances of the Pier Stage and the first exhibitions.
The most outstanding event is the the Anna Ball, which has been held for 181 years in July every year, on the day closest to the name day of Anna. One of the oldest balls in Hungary, it is the pride of Balatonfüred as well as that of the whole country. The ball is unique not only due to its historical traditions. The main event of the ball is choosing the Queen of the Ball and her ladies in attendance, who are taken for a ride in a carriage around the town the next day, then a reception is given in honour of the ladies, and finally they are taken on a trip on the oldest and the most beatiful ship of Lake Balaton, the Nemere II, where they can admire the wonderful blue water of the lake.
Since 1994, at the beginning of August the Hungarian Marathon Club has been organizing the cross-bay swimming competition supported by Balatonfüred and Tihany. The event is held in memory of Miklós Wesselényi, who was the first to swim across the lake between Tihany and Balatonfüred, the distance of which is 3,6km.
The Balatonfüred-Csopak wine region is one of the 22 historical wine regions of Hungary, giving the valueable grapes and wines of Balaton-Highland. The Wine Weeks of Balatonfüred is a real celebration of viniculture. Wine-makers await visitors in their friendly stalls built in Tagore Promenade for two weeks from the middle of August. Every evening there are high-standard performances by national and international folk art groups on the Pier Stage, there is a colourful programme on 20 August with fireworks.
Preserving the traditions of vintage feasts, the Vintage Procession is held every September. At the event wine-makers, wine societies, folk dancers, carriages, light-horsemen walk along the streets accompanied by brass and reed bands from Vitorlás square to the Market Hall, where colourful folk programmes, a street ball and a fair await visitors.
In honour of the famous Italian poet, Salvatore Quasimodo the International Competition and Meeting of Poets bearing the name of the poet is held at the beginning of September. The poet visited Balatonfüred in 1961 to recover from his illness, like Rabindranath Tagore. He also planted a memorial tree and wrote a poem about Lake Balaton and his feelings related with Balatonfüred. The poets' competition is an important part of Hungarian as well as that of Italian culture. The competition has several hundred Hungarian and foreign participants every year, the best of whom are chosen by the 7-member jury. The award-giving gala at the beginning of September is accompanied by classical music concerts, performances by famous artists, and an exhibition of Italian artists can be seen in the Art East Gallery.
In the neighbourhood of the town nice trips can be taken to Koloska-valley, Koloska-spring, or the wonderful Lóczy-cave. From the cave it is worth walking up to the Jókai look-out tower, where you can enjoy the beautiful view.