A (Not So) Bottomless Lake

Lake Feneketlen (Bottomless) has always been a Budapest mystery to me. Obviously it cannot, should not, must not be bottomless- though here we touch upon another thing I can’t do, which is swim properly, so in all honestly anything above 1.5 metres qualifies as bottomless to me, for if I cannot safely probe the ground with my feet while the entirety of my head is above water, that ground does not exist.

I then rationalized that it is perhaps just ridiculously deep for a city lake, but it isn’t that deep either, reaching a maximum of 4 to 5 metres, depending on the water’s overall level. Therefore I gave up on finding logic behind the name, and looked into the history of the lake. Its inception dates back to 1877, when the workers of a brick factory located in the area of what is now Kosztolányi Dezső tér started expanding a clay basin and then suddenly found water. It is unclear whether they were actually looking for it, or just happened to find it and since their hole was filled with water found it fortuitous and gave their blessing to the new state of things.

Update! Arduous googling pays off, and I am now in possession of the exciting snippet of information according to which the event was indeed an accident, and the brick workers hastened to rather haphazard escapes when it came to pass. Second update! Some people claim all of that to be an urban legend, and give the much more prosaic explanation of the clay basin slowly filling up with water after the brick factory discontinued its activity.

Whatever the case, the lake is still in place some 140 years later and although there were some concerns over its decreasing size during the protracted and painful construction works of metro line 4, we found it in rather good shape, harbouring schools of fish, several tortoises, many ducks and even a bird I fancifully hoped to be a cormorant. Other sights of interest include the Cistercian church overlooking the lake from a dignified distance, scores of silly statues including a confused bear and a playground.

A recent addition to the ecosystem has been a running track measuring 530 metres, which leads me to the conclusion that 53 is the sacred number of Budapest running, as the length of a full circle on Margit Island measures 5300 metres.  Adjacent to the track there is a rather well equipped open air gym of sorts, thus ensuring that parents can also successfully break a limb during that careless weekend outing to the park.

For those who feel that pushing your body to its limits is the worst idea in the history of humanity, the left-hand side of the lake offers the pleasant alternative of Hemingway restaurant. As I was wondering whether to get an amaro or a beer (both is your answer), I also realized that all that is suddenly irrelevant, because Sir Patrick Stewart, as in Captain Jean Luc Picard and Professor X rolled into one giant ball of amazing, has visited the place, lending it a small whiff of his aura of amazingness, thus making it much more amazing than you and I will ever be. And on this final well researched fact I should also end, not before suggesting that you visit the Bottomless Lake in the near future, just in case a bit of the amazingness rubs off.

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