Ikaria’s peculiar geological and tectonic structure has endowed it with geothermal springs. The natural heat from the Earth's interior gives the island a priceless treasure: hot springs to heal or ease many ailments. That has made Ikaria a major therapeutic and thermalistic tourist destination in recent years. It attracts many people from Greece and elsewhere in Europe to its famous hot springs for healing and rejuvenation vacations.
Currently the only utilization of Ikaria’s geothermal potential is curative. The thermometallic springs gush from the sea to the surface through fault structures, folds and veins. The temperatures range from 31°C to 58°C, the radiation in various values is due mainly to radon, depending on the route the hot water has taken. Known and used since antiquity, Ikaria’s hot springs are ranked with the most radioactive in the world and are classified as superheated.
Ikaria has many thermal springs, located mainly on the southeast and northeast coasts. They are located as follows:
- Agios Kyrikos: Springs Mustafa - Litza (Asclepius), Lower Loumakia and Kleftolimano.
- Therma: Cave, spring Pamfyli, Kratsa, Apollon, Artemis, Patero, Apollo Hotel, Chalasmenwn Thermwn.
- Lefkada - Xylosyrti: Springs Chlio-Thermo, Thermo and ‘Athanato nero’(=Immortal Water).
- Springs of Agia Kyriaki - Armyridas.
It is worth mentioning that the output of Ikaria’s radioactive springs is greater than those in other countries, ranging between 786-1,000m3/h, compared to 20-150 m3/h elsewhere.
The radioactivity of the springs ranges from 19.2 units Mache (spring of Lefkada) to 1,204.3 points Mache (spring Apollo). Based on the level of radioactivity divided into:
- Weakly radioactive as the springs of the Spilaio and Therma in Lefkada.
- Moderately radioactive as the springs Chlio-Thermo, Agia Kyriaki and Pamfyli.
- Strongly radioactive as the springs Mustafa, Kratsa, Apollo, Artemis.
|SPRING||TEMPERATURE (oC)||RADIATION (Mache)|
(source: Municipality of Ikaria, 2006)
Ikaria’s hot springs have been known for their healing properties since ancient times. People came from all over Greece and Asia Minor seeking to improve their health in the organised facilities in the ancient spa town of Therma (about 300 metres east of the current village), where you can still find ruins of the ancient acropolis and spa facilities.
The history of the spas is inextricably linked with the history of the area. Their construction began during the Byzantine Empire for the royal family. During the Ottoman Empire local elders used the spas. After the independence of Ikaria in 1912 the essential design of the island’s thermal wealth began.
From the 20s until now many hotels have been built near the springs to accommodate many visitors from all over Greece and other European countries, rushing to use Ikaria’s famous hot springs. The prosperity of the island stopped during the Second World War, yet many of the exiles dealt thoroughly with the study of the springs and contributed to the development of the island.
In recent years utilization of the springs has blossomed with the renovation of the "Spilaio" and "Apollon" public spas and the modernization of the private spa "Kratsa", the only ones now working. Therma is now considered an important spa town and great touristic resort for all ages.
Healing properties of thermal springs
From ancient to modern times there have been many studies on the beneficial effects of Ikaria’s thermal springs on human health.
In particular, their waters are considered suitable for treatment of the following conditions:
- subacute and chronic rheumatism including various forms of arthritis
- gynecological diseases
- disorders of the endocrine glands
- some circulatory abnormalities
- respiratory diseases
- skin ailments
- rheumatic diseases
- neuralgia - neuritis
- respiratory disease
- low back pain - sciatica
- kidney diseases
- bladder diseases - indigestion
- impotence infertility
- traumatic postoperative disease
- fatigue - anxiety
- relaxation - rejuvenation - euphoria and others.
The physical and chemical properties of the water that make it beneficial to the human body are the heat, the radon content (not in radium salts), the rich content of solid constituents in solution and the considerable content of rare constituents, such as radium, sulfur, sodium chloride etc.
Specifically ‘Immortal Water’ ('Athanato Nero') is a hot spring close to the village Xylosyrtis, from which gushes cool water. Studies have found elements in this water that make it suitable for treating diseases such as gallstones and kidney ailments. For this reason the locals have named it Immortal Water.