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Mór Jókai visited Balatonfüred for the first time in 1857, at the age of 32. At first he stayed at Klotild-udvar, now part of the town’s cardiac rehabilitation centre, but over the years he grew to love the spa resort so much that ten years later he purchased his own property there. Jókai House, which was completed in 1870, was the renowned author’s summer residence for 20 years. Jókai wasn’t particularly fond of swimming, he usually stayed away from the water and spent much of his time by his desk. He wrote several Balaton themed pieces here, the most popular of them being The Man with the Golden Touch (Az arany ember) – he allegedly heard the story that was the basis of the novel on a Balaton cruise. Even though he sold the villa after his wife’s death, it has been converted to into a memorial museum to commemorate the literary icon.
The fate of Sándor Kisfaludy, the writer of the so-called Himfy songs, was sealed when he clapped eyes on the beautiful and smart Róza Szegedy at a harvest in Badacsony. The girl came from an affluent family, and her father endowed the young, newly married couple with a press house reminiscent of an elegant mansion. The estate ended up in the best hands, as Kisfaludy himself was said to be a skilled farm manager and viticulturist, and his wife’s vermouth became well known all over the country. During their 32 years of marriage, the Badacsony house was the centre of lively social gatherings – after the poet’s death in 1844 the house became somewhat of a pilgrimage site. Today the building operates as a museum called Szegedy Róza House.
Famous theatre star Lujza Blaha acquired this Balatonfüred villa in 1893 and stayed here every summer for the next 23 years. As a contemporary record reveals: “Mrs. Blaha is basically the last famous permanent guest of Balatonfüred. The old Hungarian lords of the surrounding region, who gave Füred life a patriarchal flavour, have disappeared, Jókai, one of the former main attractions of the summer season, is long gone too, and the figures of Hungarian aristocracy, who used to come regularly, are fewer and fewer as well.” The house was initially an important venue in local social circles, but as the actress grew older, the only company she kept was her sister and granddaughter. Today “the favourite cottage” of Hungary’s nightingale operates as a hotel.