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LAKE BALATON

03/02/2012

HUNGARY |

Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Europe outside Scandinavia, has a long history as a pleasure ground for Hungarians and other nationalities.

The lake is shallow, averaging only 2 metres in depth, and its water warms quickly, particularly along the southern shore, where sandy beaches attract families with young children.

A popular holiday destination for Hungarians during the communist period, and a place where east and west Germans could meet, freedom of travel has only increased its popularity and the lake now attracts a large number of foreign tourists.

Balatonboglar, re-enacting a crossing made by Baron Miklos Wesselenyi in the nineteenth century. In 2001 over 9,000 people made the 5.2km swim with one couple marrying en route.

The water of the lake is alkaline, fed primarily by the Zala River.

At 77km long the lake is 100km south of Budapest.

Offering a reliable source of water, fish, reed for thatching and ice in winter, Balaton is believed to have been settled since the iron age.

The area is still rich with local tradition in the form of music, folk dancing and architecture.

Contemporary influences are increasingly in evidence. Siofuk is a brash resort dedicated to clubbing, drinking and sunbathing.

A volcanic area, there are many mineral water springs around the lake.

At Heviz, on the west of the lake, curative hot springs and radioactive mud are used to treat rheumatism.

Balatonfred  is celebrated for mineral water drinking cures.

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Source: Mike Goldwater

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NGARY

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