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TIRANA, January 22
Albania is home to therapeutic landscapes where thermal baths and hot springs, known as llixha, meet with nature, history, and architecture. The country is relatively rich with low up to the middle enthalpy, with waters coming out as natural springs and wells. There are 12 natural springs and ten wells.
Thermal tourism is part of medical and wellness in the T&T industry and in many countries, it’s a major source of income. Compared to other sectors of the tourism industry, seasonal variations from summer to winter have no impact on thermal and hydrothermal therapy. Therefore, it has the potential to maintain tourist traffic all year round.
Rich in minerals and healing properties, the thermal baths of Albania in nowadays Elbasan, or Benja were mentioned since the Roman period. Thermal baths and springs in Albania can be found in different parts of the country. Some are well known among Albanians and international visitors, others are completely unknown.
There is a route of European thermal heritage that takes visitors to numerous destinations across different countries, but when one searches for Albania, there are no results. Hence, IIA made this guide to the thermal baths and hot springs in Albania for those looking for relaxing and refreshing treatments for the body and mind.
Zheji 1 and 2
Elbasan thermal baths
Peshkopia thermal Baths
Benja thermal springs, Lengarica, Permet
Holta torrent in Gramsh
Postenan steam spring in Leskovik
Kapaj in Mallakstra
Treblova in Vlora
Shallow geothermal wells
Geothermal Areas in Albania
Albania has three main geothermal areas, Kruja, Ardenica, and Peshkopia. The three areas comprise different features, yet each of them is a result of regional tectonic and seismic activity.
Kruja Geothermal Area
Kruja geothermal area includes an area from Rodoni Cape in the Adriatic coast, to Ishmi structure (Bilaj thermal baths in Fushe Kruja), Kozani 8 well in Elbasan, the thermal baths of Elbasan, Holta in Gramsh, Benja in Permet, the steam springs in Postenan/Leskovik, and Vronomero on Sarandaporo River close to Albania – Greece border. Thermal springs in this area include also Uji Bardhe in Mamuarras, the Borizane well, and Shupali.
Kozani 8 is considered the most important geothermal well. Like Ishmi well, it was found by accident in 1990 during a drill for oil and gas.
The well is located 35 km away from Tirana and eight km away from Elbasan at the beautiful valley of Kusha River in Shijon Village. The water has the same qualities as the water from the other thermal springs of Elbasan. It has the potential for investments both in ecotourism and geothermal power generation.
Bilaj Thermal Baths or Ishmi1/b borehole
While almost all thermal baths in Albania occur naturally, the thermal baths of Bilaj are man-made. In 1965, Albanian and Russian engineers hit on hot brine while drilling for oil in Bilaj village, Fushe-Kruja area. The baths are located seven km from Vora – Fushe Kruja national road. The thermal water comes from the hot-springs deposits of Ishem River valley at the depth of 2,200 – 2,205 meters. The sulfurous waters contain concertation of iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and other minerals that do medicinal magic for skin, rheumatic, and nervous system disorders. The water temperature is as high as 55 degrees Celsius.
The balnear center of Bilaj, spa, and hotel) was privatized and reconstructed in 1996. The season starts from March 1st to November 31st and a 15-day stay costs around Lek 25,000. Most patients are treated for rheumatic disorders, spondyloarthropathy, knee osteoarthritis or gonarthrosis, sciatica, respiratory issues (nose, throat, and ears), urogenital system problems, skin problems (eczema, psoriasis, and juvenile acne), digestive system issues, infertility, trauma and fractures, peripheral nervous system.
Besides thermal baths, patients can take mud treatments, but only under the supervision of the doctor. Visitors are welcomed for daily treatments of the 15-day stay.
Bilaj has great potential for ecotourism due to its proximity to the capital and Tirana International Airport.
Elbasani Thermal Baths (Llixhat Elbasan)
The famous thermal springs of Elbasan and Hidrajt are located on the Valley of Tregan River, close to Shirjan Village. The thermal springs span over a 500 meters long belt from Shirjan to Hidrajt village. The springs were used since the Roman era due to their proximity to Via Egnatia. The healing and soothing properties of the water, make the thermal baths appeal both to people looking for therapy or simply relaxation.
The hot springs of Elbasan along with Gjinari highlands, Belshi lakes, and Ohrid Lake, enrich the ecotourism offer of central-eastern Albania. The springs are divided into seven groups based on their location. Nosi and spring number 6 also known as the Horse Spring are the largest springs in the area. The thermal springs of Elbasan have constant flow and temperature, 56 degrees Celsius, for long periods, over 50 years. pH=6.7-8
Hidrajt springs are located 1.5 km south-east of Elbasan thermal baths, on the slopes of Banja mountain. The water temperature varies from 46 to58 degrees Celsius.
Galigati-2 and Holta Torrent Springs
Galigati-2 well is located 18 km southeast of Elbasan.
Meanwhile, the thermal springs on Holta Torrent, Grmashi area, are seven km (air) away from Galigati. The water temperature is 24 °C. They are found mostly on the right bank of the torrent near the entrance of Holta Canyon and along the riverbed. They can be easily located due to the white color they give to the river water.
Holta Canyon gained attention during recent years and numerous visitors explore it every year. The canyon spans through Tervolli Mountain and some peaks, Kukuli, Kabashi, and Kaloti reach up to 1,000 meters. The area has a huge potential for ecotourism as well as travel and healing tourism. Fortunately, a project for the construction of a small HPP at the entrance of the canyon was annulled.
Shupali Spring in Tirana
This spring is located on the left bank of a waterway known as the Lime Torrent (Perroi i Gelqeres), west of Perkolaj village, Shupal area. The water temperature at the spring is 29,5 Celcius.
Mamurras thermal springs
Two thermal springs are found on the northeast of Mamurras on the bed of Zheji torrent. The water temperature is 21-22 degrees Celcius.
Katiu Bridge Thermal Springs, Lengerica, Benja, Permet
There is one place in Albania where tourists can enjoy a relaxing dip no matter what the season is. Located 120 away from the Ionian coast and Saranda, swimming in the natural thermal springs of Benja in southeastern Albania, feels better during the cold months of the year. Benja’s thermal springs are no longer an overlooked landmark. They grabbed the attention of Albanians and international visitors that travel to the south and during the summer season, the place feels a bit overcrowded.
These springs are located in the southern part of the Kruja Geothermal Area. There are eight springs in Benja, four on the right bank of the river and the other four on the left bank of Lengarica River with water temperatures from 23 to 30 degrees Celsius. The springs on the right have a lower water temperature from 23 to 26 degrees, while the springs on the right have a temp of 30 degrees Celcius
The springs are found at the river level, below the river level and 1 to 2.5 meters above.
Springs on the right bank of the river
Spring no. 1 is located 25-30 meters from Katiu Bridge and 20 meters from the river bed. Water temperature 26 degrees.
Spring no.2 is located eight meters above the bridge and below the river level. The blue color of the water makes it easy to locate it.
Spring no.3 is located 25 meters above the bridge and 15 meters from the river. The spring is below the river level and the water temp is 26 degrees.
Spring no.4 is located 150-200 meters above the bridge right where the canyon is 20 meters wide. The spring is above the river level and the water temp is 23 degrees.
Springs on the left bank of the river
Spring no.5 is located 300-400 meters from the bridge, upper side, right before the start of the canyon. The water temp is 30 degrees.
Spring no.6 is located at the foot of the bridge, 4 meters from the river bed and the water temp is 30 degrees Celsius.
Spring no.7 is seven meters away from the bridge, close to the river and the water temp is 30 degrees
Spring no.8 is the largest spring and is located 20-25 meters from the bridge. The water temp is 30 degrees.
The springs have healing properties for skin, digestive, and rheumatic problems.
Besides the natural beauty of the Benja area and Lengerica canyons, the springs are known for their healing properties. Given the increased number of visitors. Road infrastructure has been improved and a parking lot was built for cars and camping vehicles, while the parking rates are too low. The daily rate for a small vehicle is up to Lek 200. The incomes are used for maintenance work.
Permet town was proclaimed a protected area and the proximity to Benja makes it a year-round destination. As the locals say, with the exception of the sea, Permet has everything.
Postenani Steam Spring in Leskovik
The best description of this steam spring was made by Edith Durham in her book ‘The Burden of the Balkans’ published in 1905, about her visit to Postenan village. This is what she says:
“Halfway up the cliff, not far from the village, is-a a hot sulfur spring, reached by a narrow path hacked in the rock-face, all wet and slippery, with a sheer precipice below, the last pieces very bad, but they drag invalids up it. Two cranky huts are stuck like swallows’ nests on the ledge. The water bubbles and rumbles loudly within, and hot steam spouts forth. This is highly esteemed as a rheumatism cure. There is no doctor within miles, and the people prayed me to bring some water to England and have it analyzed to see if it would serve as a cure for other things; but, unluckily, though, after untold escapes, I conveyed a glass bottleful in my saddle-bags all the way to London safely, the analysis failed, and the poor people will be disappointed.”
Sarandaporo Springs in Vronomero, Leskovik
The thermal springs on the northern side of Sarandaporo are located on the Vronomero Gorge, on the Albania-Greece border, ten km south of Leskovik. The spring temp is 27.6 degrees and the water is potable.
Peshkopia Geothermal Area
The geothermal area of Peshkopia, northeastern Albania, is part of the Korabi hydrogeological area. Two groups of thermal springs are located two km away from the city of Peshkopia, at Banja Torrent.
The first group of springs is known as the balnear complex of Peshkopia. The thermal baths consist of two springs with water temp respectively 43.5 and 35 degrees.
The other group of springs is located 600 meters away. The water at those springs is colder compared to the first group. It varies from 29.2 to 35.5 degrees.
Peshkopia thermal baths are visited by people with respiratory issues, diabetes, rheumatism, and skin and fertility issues.
Ardenica Geothermal Area
Known for its monastery, a borehole in Ardenica was considered to have curative and healing effects on various health problems. Ardenica area consists of several boreholes and the thermal springs of Kapaj in Mallakastra.
There are nine thermal springs located 1.5 km west of Kapaj village. The water temp is low compared to the other thermal springs. It varies from 16.9 to 17.9 degrees.
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