Advanced search

Balneology

Basic facts

History

Thracian and Roman period

  • In Roman times (I-VII century) balneological resorts were mostly used for improving  physical power of Roman legions
  • Bulgaria was virtually strewn with baths and balneotherapy sanatoria: Augusta /today Hisar/, Pautalia/Kyustendil/ Thermopolis/ Bourgas Mineral Baths/ Germanea /Sapareva Banya/, Tanzos/ Sliven Baths/ Serdica/ Sofia
  • Bulgaria's capital city Sofia was founded and developed thanks to its mineral springs. It is because of them that Emperor Constantine the Great said:"Serdica is my Rome!”
  • It was this far in the past that mineral waters were classified for the first time

The Gothic chronicler Jordanes (VI century) described Thermopolis (today's Bourgas Mineral Baths):

"F iery heat erupted from the spring the first and the best among numerous other springs all over the world for treating patients."

 

Spas were built by the emperors Trajan, Septimius Severus, Maximilian, and Justinian.

 

The largest Roman bath on the Balkan Peninsular was the Roman bath in Varna, built at the end of the 2nd century.

 

Thermopolis (Bourgas Mineral Baths) was a large spa centre visited by numerous Roman and Byzantine emperors, Bulgarian kings, and sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

 

The healing properties of mineral water near Bourgas were described by the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi in the 17th century. He claimed that in all his travels around the world he had never seen water more healing!

  • Hissar (also known in the past as Augusta, Diocletianopolis,Seuthopolis, Aleksiopolis, Toplitsa) - is a town with a rich millennia-long history, back from the times when the Thracians used its mineral water for medical purposes

Emperor Diocletian was the first to introduce bath entrance fees in the world. the 11-metre fortification walls and the internal architecture of the town are among the best preserved Roman forts in Europe.

Evidence of the healing properties of Hissar mineral water is the local Museum of Kidney Concrements - a collection of about 10 000 stones excreted during and after medical treatment in Hissar.

 

Middle Ages and Modern Times

  • In the 9th century Kliment Ohridski established the Ohrid School and the first hospital at the Kliment Monastery in Ohrid
  • It is believed that St. Ivan Rilski was helping patients there and wrote the book entitled "Lekarstvenik" (Medicine Book) one of the earliest pieces of evidence of medical activity in Bulgaria
  • Mineral water was mainly used for hygiene purposes - Turkish baths were built most often on the ruins of their Roman predecessors
  • 1885 During the Ottoman domination, the first Bulgarian Catalogue of Mineral Water was published
  • In the early twentieth century, modern and attractive balneotherapy sanatoria were built near the locations of ancient Roman baths

 

The first chemical analysis of mineral water in Bulgaria was carried out in 1882 using water from five mineral springs in Hissar, and to this end the Government of Eastern Rumelia issued "Regulations on the Exploitation of the Hissar Baths." - This was the beginning of balneotherapy in Bulgaria!

  • In 1950, a number of national resorts were established; they specialized in different groups of diseases
  • 1959 Two types of health establishments were established: balneotherapy hospitals and balneotherapy sanatoria
  • By the end of the 20th century, the large number of resorts in Bulgaria were structured into: sanatoria, resort clinics, boarding houses, holiday homes, balneotherapy hospitals, and mud therapy hospitals

Bulgaria appears on the European SPA map

There are numerous hotels, sanatoria, clinics, but also the opportunity to purchase holiday homes, hotels (real estate at good prices in mountainous regions and the Black Sea coast).

Modern SPA hotels and spa centres offer all year round spa and wellness packages and medical programmes. Almost all are 4 or 5 star establishments and have swimming pools, saunas, solariums, fitness centres, gyms, beauty salon, etc. and a team of well trained professionals.

 

Facts about the mineral water in Bulgaria

The most significant effects of mineral water treatment in Bulgaria are:

  • Lowering blood pressure and improving heart functions
  • Regeneration and strengthening of the immune and cardiovascular systems
  • Improved metabolism
  • Elimination of functional disorders
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Some mineral waters enhance the body's resistance to radiation effects
  • Beneficial effects for bronchitis, joint, kidney, skin, gynaecological diseases and others
  • Health-enhancing underwater massages and underwater gymnastics

Thalassotherapy methods offered in Bulgaria are based on the healing power of seawater, sea minerals and algae.

 

Most types of mineral water are suitable for bottling, everyday use, and balneoprevention at home.

 

Mineral water can be used as a source for geothermal heating and cooling in different seasons.

 

Ancient Roman baths on our territory were heated with mineral water.

 

Characteristics of the mineral water

Bulgaria has about 600 operating deposits of mineral water and 1 600 springs, but only 30% of them are being used:

  • Temperature (10°C - 103°C) with proven medicinal properties
  • 0.5 - 63 l/sec - capacity of the mineral springs
  • The total capacity is about 270 million litres per 24 hours
  • 400-1 500 m depth of the mineral springs
  • 55% of the total flow is low alkaline water (pH 7.2 -8.2)
  • There are about 65 balneological resorts
  • Each resort has thermal springs with curative effects on various body organs and systems
  • Mineral waters are fit for human consumption
  • Most resorts are located in mountainous regions of Bulgaria and provide fresh air and perfect conditions for recovery
Flow

Source: Bulgarian balneology and spa association

  • The flow of mineral springs varies from several litres to several thousand litres per minute
  • 80% of all springs in the country are warm or hot, scattered throughout the country
  • Sapareva Banya features the only active geyser on the Balkan Peninsula; its water is the hottest in Europe - 103° C

Bulgaria ranks second in Europe after Iceland and is well ahead of countries with proven tradition in balneology in terms of existing, developed and registered (certified) mineral water resources

Czech Republic Hungary Bulgaria
Number of mineral springs 463 450 600
Average temperature of mineral water 70°C 65-70°C 70-75°C
Warmest spring geyser 73°C 96°C 103°C

 

According to Prof. Kostadin Shterev, Ph.D. in Geological Science, who is the author of the hydrogeothermal overview of Bulgaria in the European Commission's publication "Atlas of Geothermal Resources in Europe":

  • In Bulgaria there are huge reserves of underground mineral springs
  • It is argued that if the total flow of all of them were to be summed up, it would exceed the amount of all bottled mineral water in the world
  • The total usable annual volume of mineral water reserves is over 100 million cubic meters, but only 6% of these deposits have been well studied

“Mineral and thermal water are an unlimited and impressive wealth of Bulgarian nature. Their abundance and diversity ranks Bulgaria among the top countries from the hydro-thermal regions of the Balkans, Europe, and the Mediterranean”.

 

Dr. Iva Markovska - Manager of Medical Spa Centre in Bulgaria