Lake Heviz
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Lake Heviz, Zala, Hungary

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The Red Indian water lilies stretch on thin stems to reach above the surface of 11-acre Lake Heviz. Introduced to Hungary in 1898, the fuchsia teacup-shaped flowers have become the symbol for the thermal lake - the largest of its kind in all of Europe. Today the purple-pink flowers mix with blue and white water lilies to dot the surface of the lake and delight swimmers and visitors seeking the curative powers of Heviz Lake.

Tucked away in western Hungary, Heviz Lake is a natural thermal lake, fed by hot and cold springs originating in an underwater spring cave. The spring water mixes and travels through a narrow passage and into the lake. The cave was explored in 1975, but in order to protect the valuable national resource, cave diving is only allowed with special permission. The springs replace the waters of Lake Heviz every three and a half days, preserving the lake's excellent water quality. The surface water temperature of Lake Heviz averages 91.4 degrees fahrenheit and never drops below 78.8 degrees fahrenheit. The 131 feet deep lake is also unique because unlike most thermal lakes, its bottom is peat.

Lake Heviz is part of a 150-acre nature conservation area including the spring cave and marshland. The marshland and trees that surround the lake form a microclimate that supports some plants and microorganisms that can only be found in Lake Heviz. Trails around the lake provide public access to explore the protected area. The Vilmos Schulhof Promenade meanders past beaches and displays of public art and leads to the lake's main entrance.

For a modest fee, the best way to explore Lake Heviz is from the water itself. The waters are believed by many to have curative powers, and people have been coming to them since Roman times to enjoy the benefits. The first floating wooden bath house was built at the outlet of the lake in 1795, and in 1868 a bathing resort was built on the west shore of the lake. Fire claimed part of the complex in the late 1980's, but the damaged parts were rebuilt and it looks almost the same as it did when it was first constructed. The distinctive architecture of the Heviz Spa and bath house makes it instantly recognizable. With its dark timbers, white walls, red roof and spires, it sprawls across the center of the lake. Visitors can enjoy massages and detox treatments or spend the day floating and swimming in the water of Heviz Lake.

The area around Heviz Lake has grown to serve the tourists that come to the lake, and there are holiday cottages and vacation rentals in the town of Heviz as well as hotels, restaurants, shops and galleries. The town of Heviz is two hours from Budapest, making Lake Heviz a great day trip or a fantastic stand-alone destination for anyone who wants or needs the restorative power of the lake. Sheltered by the tree-lined shore, floating with the water lilies in the lake's warm water, Lake Heviz is a world of its own.

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