The therapeutic properties of some mineral springs were known since the ancient times. It is said that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used bathing with mineral water to heal some kinds of pain and diseases. Experts consider that the first mineral water baths date back to 2,000 B.C.
Indeed, many remains of such ancient baths have been found all over Greece and Asia Minor. Most medical centers had springs facilitating the hydrotherapy techniques, which achieved a great development in those times. People used to take their baths in special tubs with water. At the end of the 5th century BC, complex specific bathing facilities started to be built. They were independent, well distributed in the city, and offered cold or warm water and steam baths. Baths became complex rituals, accompanying exercises and massage both in ancient Greece and Rome.
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In the 9th century A.D., there was a recovery of classical culture. So, the use of thermal waters and baths in general became popular as one of the hygienic measures. As most European cities were quite crowded, there was a cholera outbreak in the eighteenth century, which highlighted the need to build private and public baths as a measure of hygiene.
In our days, Hydrology, as a branch of Medical Therapeutics, has been nurtured by the improvements in science and relies on other disciplines, such as the Natural Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Pharmacy. Today, we know the chemical composition of water, its origins, its functions in the body and so on. However, despite the fact that the thermal cures have lost the mysticism of past times, the hydrothermal therapies do not occupy the high place they used to, which is due to the development of medicine as a whole, especially in the areas of surgery and in that of therapeutic drugs.
That may be the reason why, in Greece, these kinds of therapies needed to be combined with tourism and, in recent years, special forms of tourism have been developed, which provide tourists with an opportunity to enrich their activities with special hydrotherapy programs. Thus, Greece is already a destination not only for the classical type of holidays, but also because it caters the needs for therapeutic holidays.
Not to mention, there is a number of hot springs in Greece to attract a considerable number of visitors. Some of these centers are organized, or else the natural springs are open to all people for use. Most such hydrotherapy centers are owned by the National Tourism Organization and others are independent. These centers do not usually have lodging facilities, so tourists stay in hotels operating in the area around the establishment. Many places around the mainland Greece and the Greek islands have developed as destinations for therapeutic holidays and natural spa.
Below there is a list with the mineral natural springs of Greece.
Loutraki, close to Corinth, Peloponnese
Loutraki is the most famous centre for therapeutic holidays in Greece. It is widely known for the extraordinary quality of its waters, which are ideal for the fresh water therapy. It offers a Therapy Center of fresh water in an old building where there are mosaics of great artistic value. The water of Loutraki is said to heal uric disorders, kidney grit, gallstones, minor liver disorders and dyspepsia. www.loutrakispa.gr
Kaiafas, on the western coast of Peloponnese
At a relatively short distance from Pyrgos town, the hot springs of Kaiafas are known for their therapeutic qualities since the ancient times. According to the ancient Greeks, the centaur Nesos washed the wound caused by the arrow of the mythical hero Hercules in these hot springs. These springs have the following therapeutic indications: skin and arthritic ailments, gallstones, gastric and intestinal disorders.
Methana, on the eastern coast of Peloponnese
The springs of the area were already known in the 3rd century A.D. when, according to historians, there was a volcanic explosion. These waters are ideal to treat skin conditions, arthritic, gynecological diseases and disorders in the peripheral nerves.
Killini, on the western coast of Peloponnese
Due to the popularity of this location, it is preferable to combine therapeutic tourism with classical tourism. The therapeutic indications of Killini waters are disorders of the respiratory system, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, laryngitis and skin ailments
Edipsos, on the northen coast of Evia
The hot springs of Edipsos are known since the ancient times. In the archaeological collection of the city, the visitor has the opportunity to see important ancient baths remains dating from the Hellenistic and Roman period. A large modern complex of hydrotherapy, including steam baths and Jacuzzi, operates in Edipsos. It has an outdoor Olympic-sized pool which waters come both from the hot springs and from the sea, as well as two indoor pools of thermal water. The hydrotherapy center does not have a hotel. Hence, the visitor must book their rooms in a lodging option in the area. These waters are said to treat acute and chronic rheumatism, arthritis deformities, espondilartritis, neuritis, sciatica, lumbago and injuries caused by ankylosis, gynecological disorders (salpingitis, endometrial infections, ovaries disorders, leucorreas and even some forms of infertility).
Kythnos, Cyclades Islands
The therapeutic facilities are placed on the ground floor of the old hotel in Loutra, to the north coast of Kythnos island. The stay is in the hotels near the centre. Therapeutic indications: chronic rheumatism, arthritis deformity, sciatica, muscle aches, espondilartritis, salpingitis and endometritis.
Thermopylae, in Fthiotida, Central Greece
The thermal springs of Thermopylae were already known in the ancient times and they are placed at 15 km south of Lamia, in the centre of Greece. A large flow of water is received and the rare phenomenon of a thermal waterfall is constituted. The therapeutic indications of this particular place are rheumatic conditions, arthritis, neurological and gynaecological disorders, diseases of the respiratory system, asthma, bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.
Kammena Vourla, in Fthiotida, Central Greece
Kamena Vourla town is located 178 km to the north of Athens and it is one of the most famous therapeutic entities in the Greek territory. Their main therapeutic indications are chronic rheumatism, arthritis deformity, espondilarthritis, neuritis, sciatica, and disorders of the endocrine glands.
Ypati, in Fthiotida, Central Greece
A tranquil spa in an environment with lots of vegetation 18 km west of Lamia, in direction to Karpenisi. Access is easy and roads are good. It is famous for healing the following therapeutic indications: syndromes and disorders of the blood vessels, hypertension, disorders of the coronary arteries, disorders in the veins of the lower extremities, phlebitis, heart disease, disorders of the heart valves, tachycardia, arrhythmias, skin conditions, eczema, atrophic dermatitis, disorders of the peripheral nerves and muscles, paralysis, muscular atrophy, various forms of arthritis.
Elefteres, near Kavala, to the northeastern of Greece
These thermal spas are located in a beautiful natural surrounding with a lot of green vegetation, 45 km to the west of Kavala. Therapeutic indications: acute and chronic rheumatism, arthritic conditions.
Platistomo, in Fthiotida, Central Greece
The waters of Platistomo are indicated for nutrition-related ailments, arthritis, uric-oxalic grit (non phosphate), obesity, diabetes, liver ailments, gallstones, cystitis, minor liver disorders, disorders of the urinary tract, chronic pielitis and cystitis, chronic disorders of the digestive system, bile and chronic colitis. Apart from balneotherapy, the centre also offers therapy for drinking fresh water systematically.
Lagadas, close to Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
The thermal spas of Lagadas are good for the following therapeutic indications: rheumatic conditions, arthritis and disorders in the peripheral nerves.
Smokovo, in Thessaly, Central Greece
Smokovo lies at an altitude of 450 meters and is situated on the slopes of Mountains Agrafa, in an environment with lots of vegetation. Therapeutic indications: arthritic and rheumatic disorders, chronic rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, muscle aches, ailments of the respiratory system.
Nigrita, close to Serres town, Macedonia
There is a hydrotherapy centre that treats many forms of arthritis, disorders of the urinary system, stomach and intestinal disorders.
Ikaria, Dodecanese Islands
The spring of Ikaria island is found in Agios Kyrikos village The place belongs to the Municipality of Agios Kyrikos and it offers spa for several health disorders.
Another less organized thermal spring is located in Santorini island. There are famous thermal baths in Santorini which are naturally heated by the active volcano. To reach the hot waters, visitors must go on a boat that stops at some meters from the hot area. Tourists must then swim till the area, where the temperature is higher than the rest of the sea. Apart from the healthy waters, the sea bottom mud is very rich in minerals, which are supposed to be good for the skin.