The natural thermal water springs in Bulgaria are some of the most sterling and unique resources of the country and welcome the prosperity of tourism; they are the “golden key“ to boosting the development of the hospitality industry that will keep tourism flourishing. Over 800 hydro mineral springs clustered in over 240 water formations, rich in hot and cold mineral water with temperature varying in a wide range from 37° C up to 101° C, gush forth and spout out of the bowels of the Earth from a depth of over 2000 meters.
In the uniqueness, variety and abundance of hydrothermal, bioclimatic, mud treatment, sea cure, and other health resources, Bulgaria ranks among the first in Europe. Specialists are unanimous that all kinds of known mineral waters around the world find their counterpart in our country. Deposits of high quality peat and healing mud have been found at many places in the country.
The mineral water with the highest temperature measured on the Balkan Peninsula springs out as a geyser in the area of Sapareva Banya. The Mihalkovo natural soda-water is the third most famous of its kind in the world. The healing spring waters with curative effect in the spa resort of Merichleri, similar in quality to the mineral water springs in the resort areas of Karlovi Vari and Vichy, were awarded a gold medal at the International exhibition which took place in London in 1907. The up-to date mud center in the sea town of Pomorie is the largest on the Balkan Peninsula and is an incredible contribution to the development of domestic balneology (hot spring spas and therapy).
Bulgaria’s health spas and hot mineral springs have been noted for their restorative and recreative effects since the ancient Thracian, Greek and Roman times. Ancient civilizations settled in these mineral spring areas a long time ago. When establishing their dwellings on the Balkan Peninsula in the 5th century BC, the Thracians, preferred to settle in these wholesome and favorable unique lands with natural spring waters, following the old traditions andmaking a cult of the natural sparkling curative thermal waters. There are extremely good bio-climatic resources which, combinedith the existing ancient traditions in thermal water use, provide a base of balneology development in the country of Bulgaria.
In Thracian times, flourishing settlements sprang up around the hot mineral springs. Later, under the influence of the Greek mythology, nymphaeums were built where the Thracians practiced religious and health rituals ending by tossing coins in the mineral water areas “for health”. The cultural and economic boom of these dwellings actually started after the Romans conquered the Thracians in the year 46. In addition to conducting religious rituals, for the next five-six centuries the nymphaeums welcomed other activities such as hospitalisation.
The “Asclepions“ - baths with additional functions and curative health centres for hospitalisation of the sick, were built and the largest of their kind was established in the ancient Ulpia Pautalia (present Kyustendil) spreading over a territory of 3600 sq.m and ranking second among the Asclepions in ancient Hellenic Epidavar. Today enormous wealth of natural factors, combined with the country’s modern hotels and spa facilities, provide excellent possibilities for the year-round effective treatment of the most widespread diseases of our times and truly make Bulgaria a country of health.
Evidences that the mineral springs and Roman baths were used in the time of the first and second Bulgarian Kingdom have been found during excavations near the villages of Merichleri, the baths in Stara Zagora area, the village of Varshets, the baths of Sapareva Banya and Haskovo baths.