About Budapest Bath Museum
The Budapest Bath Museum or Thermae Maiores in Budapest, Hungary, houses the ruins of a Roman baths complex within the military base that existed on this site from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD.
The base would have formed part of the Roman city of Aquincum, which served as the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia, reaching its peak around the 2nd century with as many as 40,000 inhabitants.
Budapest Bath Museum history
Originally settled by the Eravisci Celtic tribe, Aquincum later served as a Roman military camp (a castrum) within the border protection system called limes. The Romans established a base around 41-54 AD, with 500 cavalry and a legion of 6,000 men stationed there by 89 AD. The city grew around the Roman fortress, becoming the capital of the province Pannonia Inferior until the reforms of Diocletian, over 100 years later. Aquincum also became a colonia and headquarters for emperors travelling the frontier.
Within the military camp was a large complex of public baths, including some 50 rooms such as a gymnasium, sweat chamber, hot and cold water pools for the soldiers and their supporting community. An inscription found within the baths dates to the year 269, and refers to the Thermae Maiores meaning ‘Great Bath’. The baths were situated at the intersection of the fortress’ two main roads, their entrances stepping straight out onto the thoroughfares.
The ruins of these great baths were first uncovered in 1778, with one of the halls found during other excavations of Aquincum. The complex was further excavated in the 1980s to be preserved for display as part of the Roman Baths Museum in the Óbuda district of Budapest. The baths originally would have been around 15,000 square metres large, supplied with underfloor heating and plenty of soldiers eager to exercise and bathe.
Budapest Bath Museum today
Today, this archeological gem can be found just beyond the shore of the Danube, nestled within a concrete tangle of overpasses between massive Soviet-built housing blocks. Visitors will find information boards describing the history of the baths and their plan, and you can spend up to 2 hours wandering around the complex free of charge.
Approaching the baths, you can see the remains of Roman columns within the grassy slope leading into the nearby train station. Head down through the underground passage, lined with Roman stelae and busts, to travel back in time. You’ll reach a raised boardwalk from which you can access the bath complex.
Getting to Budapest Bath Museum
If using public transport – by far the easiest way to get around the city – from central Pest, take the Soviet-era Metro Line 3 to Tram 1. Flórián tér is a stop on the Tram 1 line. From Flórián tér, Aquincum Archaeological park is about 1 km north and the Aquincum Military Amphitheater is about 1 km to the south.