Wonderful waters (I)

In the North of Portugal, very close to the border with Spain, in the middle of a National Park, surrounded by mountain and forest… you can enjoy thermal baths! Welcome to the thermal baths of Termas do Gerês.

A bit of history: Archaeological remains tells us that the Romans already used the waters in Gerês for medicinal purposes. Until not so long ago Gerês was considered to be a bit of a wild region (it still is, in a way). This reputation however did not stop people from going there to use the waters for their health benefits.

It was in the 18th century that the first thermal infrastructures were built, consisting of little more than granite tanks in small stone shelters with a curtain serving as a door. The principle was simple: you got inside a tank and just stood there, immersed in the water. No Zen music at the time to help your relaxation, I’m afraid! The thermal baths gained more fame in the late 19th century, having been visited by the Portuguese royals of the time.

The whole area surrounding the thermal baths was of course modernised throughout the centuries and today there is a mix of renewed early 20th century buildings and 21st century infrastructures, with hotels, restaurants and all the modern facilities. But don’t let yourselves be mistaken: Gerês still is a pretty much wild area – so take your walking boots and skip the high heels.

Termas_do_gerês
Part of the 19th century structure built to support the thermal baths.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Today the mineral waters of Gerês are believed to help treat health problems dealing with liver, gall-bladder, obesity, hypertension, gout and diabetes. Now I’ll put on my scientist hat (do they have one?) to give you some science facts: The waters in Gerês have a highly alkaline pH of 9.1 but, although this is characteristic of sulphurous waters, this water does not contain sulphur in its most reduced state (sulphide) and cannot therefore be considered a sulphurous water = unique water. Ta-daaah!

The water’s natural temperature goes from 42ºC to 48ºC. Hot, hot, hot!

Thermal baths in Gerês are seasonal (May 1st to October 31st) but the spa is open all year round so you can enjoy some pampering in the dead of winter.

Stay tuned for the next posts which will include: pool, massage, sauna, Turkish bath, shiatsu and hot stone massage, among other things. 😉

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