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Healing Hot Mineral Baths of Lesvos

The hot springs of Lesvos have been well known since antiquity. They are located in areas that allow one to enjoy the peaceful surroundings, amazing scenery and the relaxing and soothing experience of a therapuetic mineral bath. They also offer changing and shower facilities and some have restaurants and cafes, massage and other therapies.

Pigi Thermi by Tzeli HatzidimitriouI am not really a therapeutic miracle waters type of person. At least I did not think of myself as one until one summer when I threw my back out of whack the second day after I arrived in Lesvos. I was climbing into my little rental car and felt a painful twinge like a charge of electricity. I knew at that moment if I did not get back to the house and into a bed I would have to be carried there in about 20 minutes when every muscle would tighten up in response to whatever act of treason my spine was committing. I spent the next two days in pain. It would take me five minutes to get fully to my feet and another twenty before I was walking fully upright instead of bent over like an old woman dressed in black. On the third day I took my wife's advice and slowly got dressed and made my way down to the car and somehow or another managed to squeeze myself in behind the wheel. I drove to the hot springs at Eftalou.

Hot springs in Gera, Lesvos, GreeceAfter unfolding myself out of the car I walked down the beach to the stone building that housed the baths but alas, it was closed. Even the ancient building next door which still houses the original baths had an iron padlocked gate. But having been here many times before I knew exactly what to do. I walked around the old stone building to the beach where I could see from the steam rising where the hot spring water was coming through the walls and into the sea. By taking stones and piling them in a semi-circle around me and digging away at the gravel and sand, I could contain this hot water in my very own healing spring. Within twenty minutes of laying in this mixture of fresh and sea water my back was fine. I was able to take a ten minute relaxing swim at the beautiful beach there, before continuing my treatment. I was cured. I did not have a problem with my back for the entire summer and usually when I have thrown out my back it can take a week to ten days before I am anywhere near normal.

Unfortunately a winter storm dumped about 50 tons of boulders on this spot so you can't really do this anymore. But if you are in pain you can still do what everyone else does: pay the fee and take your bath. And you can still make a little pool outside the hot springs of Gera.

Healing Springs of Lesvos: Polychnitou

Hot springs of Lesvos, Polychnitou Polichnitos has the hottest natural springs in all of Europe. The baths are 60 meters above the sea close to the banks of the Almyropotamos river. There are five mineral springs but only three are used, two by the municipality and one is privately owned. In the winter time you can see the springs from a distance because of the hot vapor rising from it. These springs are recommended for the cure of chronic rheumatism, arthritis, scropules, skin diseases, sciatica of the hip joint, myalgic pain, illnesses of the womb, lymphatisms and gynecological diseases in general. The entire area is alive with steaming streams of fantastic colors, boiling ponds and the stone ruins of old bath houses. The main bath house has two pools and the temperature is kept quite comfortable. The two pools are designated male and female but because we came as a family and there was nobody else there we were allowed to use one and bathe together. What could be finer then spend the morning in the baths and then have a nice seafood lunch at one of the inexpensive restaurants along the waterfront in Skala Polychnitos or Vatera? The baths also offer massage therapy, a cafe full of local natural foods and drinks. The baths are open all day until 8pm. If you only have time to visit one of the baths then this is the one to go to. The Hotel Aphrodite Beach is several kilometers away but you can easily get there by taxi.

For more pictures and info click here

Nearby are the hot springs of Lisvori with therapeutic mineral bath installations on the banks of a torrent of water that flows into the bay of Kalloni. These healing waters are recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, gynecological and dermatological ailments. Rumour has it that these are closed now.

Healing Springs of Lesvos: Eftalou

Eftalou Hot SpringsAt Molyvos are the Eftalou springs with their newly renovated bath house with individual private tubs or communal bathing. Recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, neuralgia, skin diseases, kidney and gall gravel and gynecological complaints these are probably the most popular baths on the island due to their proximity to Molyvos. You can swim in the sea or sit along the shore where the hot mineral water seeps through the rocks and mixes with the sea water in warm currents. Because of the beach and surroundings this is my favorite of the spas, or it was until the storm came that dumped about a thousand tons of boulders on the exact spot where we used to dig in the sand and gravel to make a little pool of hot water. I still am not convinced this was not a man-made event. It is a short walk to the excellent Eftalou restaurant too. There is a paved path to the bath house and the beach below it. The new baths are tubs with faucets that you can control the temperature. The old bath house which is sometimes locked is an ancient tub that looks like a small swimming pool and is so hot that if you can keep your little toe in the water for more than thirty seconds that is pretty good. Old baths are open from 6am to 8am and 6pm to 10pm. New baths from 9am till 6pm. There is an outdoor shower nearby too. If you continue walking around the bend there is another long beach called Golden Beach which has a taverna and if you walk far enough you can swim naked. There are a number of hotels in Eftalou right by the baths including the Hotel Molyvos II and the Hotel Bella Vista. The Sunrise Resort Hotel is about a twenty minute walk to the baths and to Molyvos. And of course there are many hotels in Molyvos which has bus service to the baths.

Healing Springs of Lesvos: Thermi on Yera

Hot Springs of YeraThe baths at Thermi on the beautiful Gulf of Yera date back to the beginning of the last century. It is believed to be on the site of the ancient temple to Hera. Renovations have respected the original architecture of the baths. Beside the hot baths there is a cafe restaurant overlooking the bay and a beach suitable for swimming and a lovely jaccuzzi. Recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, bronchitis, kidney and gall gravel, prevention of heart attacks, sugar diabetes, neurasthenia, illnesses of the womb, sciatica of the hip joint, intestinal diseases, bronchial diseases, gynecological complaints and more. The Separate baths for men and women are the largest on the island. Some people claim these are the best baths on the island but of the ones I have used I prefer Polychnitou.

Thermal spas in Lesvos, greeceWe stopped here on the way back from the airport one day when it was about 95 degrees out and the last thing in the world I wanted was a hot bath. But Andrea wanted one and thought it would be good for me as well. The procedure is very simple. You pay the man in the booth, take your towel and go into the men's or the women's baths. You strip naked and go through a metal door where you will find a big marble swimming pool that looks thousands of years old. The water is comfortably warm and you could easily spend a day paddling around or lounging on the ledges that line the pool. Without coming right out and saying it and perhaps offending some people, my first reaction was that if these baths were co-ed it would be like paradise (if you could lock the door). I don't know what it is about swimming around naked in a giant bathtub but its a very neat feeling, for me anyway. I recommend a cold shower after you finish, especially if it is hot. I was assuming that if I had emmersed myself in hot water, that the air which was not as hot, would feel cooler. This was true for about 5 minutes and then I was desperate to throw myself in the cold sea. Anyway this is a great place to stop on the way to the ferry or airport for your last hot bath on Lesvos. Or the first. They are on the main road into town. Be sure to take note of the rag tree on the premises where people hang rags and pieces of clothing and make a prayer. The closest hotel is the Mytilana Village.

Healing Springs of Lesvos: Skala Thermi

Ancient mineral baths in Thermi, Lesvos by Tzeli HatzidimitriouAt Skala Thermi the historical baths have been in use since ancient times and was at one time the divine spring of the goddess Artemis. Recommended for rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, neuralgia, kidney and gall gravel, gynecological complaints, hypertension, circulatory problems, liver diseases, lymphatism, spleen enlargement, cirrhosis, paralysis, periostitis, rachitis and hardening of the arteries. The mineral waters are also inhaled for chronic bronchial catarrh, catarrh of the pharynx and the eustachian tubes. The Grande old Hotel Starlitza which was the center of the community and had beautiful gardens has been deserted for years but plans for its restoration are under way or at least the plans were announced in 2012. I don't think anything has been done since then and by the time they do, the beautiful old hotel will probably be a pile of rubble. Behind the relatively new bath house with its individual bathtubs, are the ancient baths now closed to the public but worth a visit if you can ignore the garbage and debris. The beach town of Skala Thermi itself has many large cafes near the waterfront as well as two excellent fish tavernas right at the fishing boat docks. Most people who come are here to see the Monastery of Agios Raphael and stop in for a bath since they are nearby. There are a few hotels and rooms you can book through Booking.com's Skala Thermi Page. It would be nice if the hotels in the area got together to clean the place up. It is a mess.

Karini

Karini, LesvosThough not a hot mineral spring, the cold water spring at Karini, near Agiassos should not be missed. It is a spring of cold clear water that comes from the ground into a stone pool and then into a stream which irrigates the entirevalley below. This is the water that used to flow through the Roman Aquaduct. There is a wonderful taverna and a cafeneon there and lots of shade including a giant hollowed out platanos tree where the artist Theophilos lived at one time. I f you take the old road from Mytilini to Agiassos you will see it on the right and you can pull in and park in the back. The new road bypasses it which can't be good for the businesses there but it really is one of the nicest stops on the island. There are a couple roadside stands where people sell all kinds of traditional products from the island.

If you are planning to visit Lesvos with a focus on spending time in the healing baths then I recommend staying in Vatera and using the Polychnitou baths and doing day trips to visit the others. Another option is to stay in Molyvos or Eftalou so you can use those baths regularly and visit the others on day trips. If you are coming to Lesvos particularly for the baths don't stay in Skala Eressos because it is far away from any of the hot springs if you don't plan to rent a car.

Sacred Water, The Mineral Springs of Lesvos

Sacred Water, the Spas of LesvosSacred Water of Lesvos Photographic album. Texts: G. Maniotis, G. Doukakis, Tzeli Hadjidimitriou. Hard cover, 144 pages. 1st edition 1996. Price 25 euro

A book with poetic images from the old “Baths” of Lesvos that hosted generations of the local community, the old Turkish hamam of the town of Mytilene before it’s renovation and Sarlitza, the old, glorious hotel of the beginning of last century before it got destroyed by time.

Light within old buildings slips in waves through small windows, and sprawls upon eroded walls, is born again by them, murking the eyes of uninvited guests. For years, light was the sole observer of all that went on behind fractured shutters. Guard and lover of the unique beauty, which dripped slowly, like the drops on greening walls. In these closed bath chambers breath merged with vapour. And thought would be lost, would spread, as the light did on perspiring bodies. Without knowing what awaited me, one morning, out of curiosity I asked to see the «baths». Many years have passed since that first time, when the wet scent of water enveloped me, together with the light that came in generously through small windows by the sea. I followed the ritual. Washed in the niche from which the water rushed, and sank into the green, warm, indistinct liquid, cupped in the stine basin. Words often times are insufficient in expressing sensations. Thereafter, I sought all hidden springs abundant on the island, and again and again I abandoned myself to that sensation of deliverance within their waters, under the slight light, which slipped through the apertures in the dome, or at times gushed in catalytically through the windows of the sea. Click Here for Ordering Information

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