Whether it’s Wembley Stadium, Madison Square Garden or even Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas – every sport has it’s very own iconic venues, where atmosphere, passion and history are oozing from every brick of the structures. If you had to name a site for the sport of Water polo, one pool definitely comes to our minds: The legendary Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium on Margaret Island in Budapest.
What is it though, that sets this pool apart from any other Water polo stadium in the world? While it might not have that one legendary game or oustanding goal that everybody remembers, it does have a unique presence to it thanks to the passion and the rich history the Hungarians people have in Water polo.
It all begins with the unique site Alfréd Hajós is located at. What feels like a hidden remote shrine upon arriving through the trees of Margaret Island turns out to be a collossal monument to Hungary’s most popular sport. The facility has four floors and eight pools, including training pools, a diving pool and competitive swimming pools both for short course and long course. It was planned by and since 1975 bears the name of Alfréd Hajós, a renowned Hungarian swimmer and architect.
The massive construction of brick and mortar remains almost untouched since the 30s and right away sets a nostalgic mood. Once inside, marble plates with names of Hungary’s olympians remind you of their successful past, demanding respect from every visitor, athleat or fan, while infusing every Hungarian player with confidence and pride.
The same epic sceneary follows you through the indoor pool all the way to the legendary outdoor pool, where almost 3000 fans have been pushing Water polo’s greatest stars like Kiss, Farago and Kasas to the heighest heights of their game. While it’s spacious enough to fit a huge crowd of fierce supporters, it still manages to convey the full impact from the pool to the stands, where it gets multiplied in return.
Alfréd Hajós National Sports Swimming Stadium hosted a number of significant international championships, like for example the European Water polo Championship in 2001 or the European Aquatic Championship in 2006 and in 2010. Part of the Pentathlon World Championship in 1954 and later in 1999 was held here, as well as the Water polo Champion’s League. It has also been hosting the traditional Summer International Water polo Tournament for several years now.
Despite the fact, that the Hungarians built a new aquatic mega complex, the “Duna Arena”, for the need of the FINA World Championships 2017, the decision was made to take the Water polo spectacel to its temple on Margaret Island. We can’t wait to see this legendary site get the Waterpolo World Championship it deserves. We are sure that, whoever manages to secure their place in the finals is guranteed to the Water polo experience of a lifetime.
What other Pools and sites pay great tribute to the beautiful sport of Waterpolo? Let us know in the comments and we might post an article about your country’s most famous and respected Water polo stadiums in the future.