The Thermal Baths of Methana Springs

Methana, Greece | C.1917

Photo Credit: Vehicle Adventure Network

Dipping your toes into this bright blue pool, you’d be surprised that its warm temperatures are not man-made (and neither are the bubbles). Located across the Saronic Gulf from Athens, the water and landscape on this peninsula are shaped by immense volcanic activity. Powered by sulphorous thermal springs, centuries of bathers have enjoyed the heated waters of Methana–without ever touching a faucet. 

While there is evidence that humans have inhabited this area since the Neolitihic period, we know the thermal springs of Methana have been used for rest and relaxation since the 3rd Century BC. In his Descriptions of Greece, considered by scholars to be the “world’s first travel guide,” Greek writer Pausnias mentions the use of the hot springs by locals due to their healing powers–at that time considered to be the work of the Olympian gods. 

Quietly used for millennia, the springs became a particularly popular attraction away from the hustle of Athens at the turn of the 20th Century. As spas, wellness, and mineral waters became of general interest to the public, a large bathhouse was constructed right outside the town of Methana in 1917. Designed in the Neoclassical style by Ernst Ziller, the bathhouse reached the peak of its popularity between the 1950s and 1960s, welcoming tens of thousands of visitors unperturbed by the sulphurous smells in the name of wellbeing. 

The baths and their turn of the century buildings have unfortunately been closed since 2017, though that hasn’t stopped the pools from staying hot.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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