Margaret Island the Spa Island

Due to its charming beauty, Margaret Island had from the very start been a favourite residence of royals. Its landscaping was initiated in 1790 by the Palatine of Hungary, Archduke Alexander Leopold of Austria and after his death the works were continued by his hugely popular younger brother, Archduke Joseph of Austria, Palatine of Hungary. 

Palatine Joseph had done a lot for the economic and cultural development of the country, between 1796 till his death in 1847, and he paid special attention to the development of Margaret Island. He set up a holiday house on the island for his first wife, the Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia.

It was revealed only later, that the island is a perfect location for spas. Palatine Joseph’s son, the Archduke Charles Louis of Austria recognized the special location of Margaret Island and actively supported the development of the Island which – thanks to this support – resulted in the initiation of the first artesian well-boring in 1866 by the mining engineer Vilmos Zsigmondy – well-known as an outstanding researcher of Hungarian artesian waters and medical springs. Not much later, in May of 1867, he met with a great success: medical water of 43 °C gushed forth from 1,200 meters below surface. The grandiose plan to develop the Island into a complete spa was born based on this discovery, and the plan was realized by the Hungarian master of neo-Renaissance architecture, Miklós Ybl in 1868.

The elegant Grand Hotel, the Small Hotel, the Grand restaurant as well as the related outbuildings and some villas were built by 1873. That was the time when the waterfall was developed by using rocks. At that time Margaret Island actually consisted of three separate islands (The Painter Island, the Bath Island and the Rabbits’ Islands) and the island we know today came into being with the unification of these three islands to allow it to become a spa island famous all over Europe.

The development of the Island has been continuous since then and what makes it especially compelling is that there are no buildings on the island except for a few serving public and recreation purposes. Margaret Island has remained the huge park of the capital with a fascinating atmosphere which is made even more special by sacral mementos from the Middle age, by alleys and by smaller lakes. Further places of interest include musical fountains, the Palatinus Beach and the Alfréd Hajós National Sports Swimming Stadium.