Loutraki - Greece
Just 80 km from Athens, by the Corinth Canal is the seaside resort of Loutraki, once known as Thermae which is similar in both Ancient Greek and Latin, and refers to public bath houses. (Θερμαί, is the Greek word meaning hot springs), The waters have been known as the “water of life” since antiquity, and many consider Loutraki to be the birthplace of Greek thermalism and its most important therapeutic centre. Loutraki is derived from Loutro (Λουτρό in Greek), meaning bath, bath-house, spa or thermae. Spartan soldiers were said by the historian Xenophon to rest and rejuvenate in the curative waters here, while later, Roman and Byzantine military and politicians also took the waters.
In 1847 the first analysis of the mineral waters was undertaken by Professor Giovanni Battista Delvinioti, and soon after the beneficial effects of the waters were publicised in Italy, an influx of settlers paved the way for modern Loutraki. In 1855 the first wooden building housing 10 baths was built, at the same time as the first municipal operating company was established. A new bath complex was built in 1899, with 22 baths, (and demolished in 1967). In 1928 Loutraki was completely destroyed by earthquake and rebuilt. Today the Loutraki Thermal Spa combines the restored 1934 classical-inspired building and an extended luxurious modern spa complex. The magnesium-rich waters are still used in drinking therapies to reduce blood pressure, and assist kidney, bladder and bile functions and improve the skin. In the spa they assist with the reduction of cellulite, as well as promoting relaxation. These days, while tourism, bottled mineral water and confectionery are the main industries, Loutraki is also famous for its new casino which is one of the largest in Europe and a large modern conference centre.