Sofia is probably one of the few capitals in the world that came into being because of a mineral water spring. The hot water that still gushes out of the taps behind the Banya Bashi Mosque in central Sofia is what attracted first the Thracians, then the Romans, and then everyone else. And probably this is what led Emperor Constantine the Great, at the beginning of the 4th Century, to consider making the city then called Serdica the new capital of the Roman Empire. Constantine went for Constantinople in the end, but the Sofia springs remained. They are a part of Bulgaria's enormous wealth of mineral waters. Many of Bulgaria's spas were known back in the ancient world. At present, the country has over 225 spa springs, which make it one of Europe's top spa destinations.
While Bulgaria's spa tourism has somewhat lagged behind the development of the Black Sea Coast and the mountain resorts, the country does have 58 spa destinations and ranks second in Europe after Iceland, according to the number of hot mineral springs. Bulgarian mineral water is medium to highly mineralised and is used for the treatment of urological, gastrointestinal, endocrine and metabolic diseases, as well as benefitting those in need of a total de-tox.
In the past few years a multitude of spa centres have sprung up, which act as luxurious hideaways where guests are pampered in all possible ways. The spa treatments are complemented by relaxation procedures from all over the world – from Ayurvedic to Thai to Shiatsu massage to mud baths and yoga. All this pleasure is enhanced by the healthy local and fusion cuisine and the great variety of Bulgarian wines offered in the hotels.
Situated in the Troyan region of the Stara Planina, Spa Hotel Fairy is a rare delight. There you can enjoy a steam bath at about 45 degrees Celsius with 100 percent humidity, a treatment which makes the skin smooth and tender, soothes the lungs and cleans the toxins from your body. The sauna treatment has an amazing effect, the heat being alternated with several sessions of icerubbing, which produces an improvement in blood circulation and a stronger immune system.
You don't even need to leave Sofia if you crave the spa experience. Just visit Kontur Wellness Club. Gentle Thai music soothes you as skilled hands massage you and the fragrance of specially blended oils, herbs and spices fills the air. If you want something different try the massage with seashells from the Philippines or an anti-cellulite treatment with coffee or cinnamon. Don't miss the Hamam ritual – it cleanses the body of toxins and is a great way to prepare your skin before the summer holidays.
Ever wondered what the secret of Indonesian beauty is? Find yourself in the spa centre of Emerald Beach Resort & Spa. Part of the worldfamous Indonesian Royal Chain Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, the centre is the only of its kind in Bulgaria. Here qualified Indonesian therapists spoil you with therapies and procedures used by the Royal Family for centuries. Spread on over 1500 sq.m, the centre offers a room for two and a room with gems, a Saray bath and an aroma therapy room, a sauna and a tropical shower, a frigidarium or an ice room, a solarium and a Kneipp warmed bench. The warmed pool is open all-year round. What else? A Jacuzzi, thoroughly equipped fitness centre, hair-styling parlour, a resting room and a spa boutique.