Visitors to Greek Thermal and Seaside Spas (Mid-19th Century-Early 20th Century)

Melina Kostidi

Abstract


Thermal tourism is considered the first form of tourism in the 19th-century Greek state. At that time, patients decided to travel to Greek thermal baths to seek therapy and pain relief.  The first thermal spas in Greece can be considered ‘latecomers,’ because they began to develop after their counterparts in other areas of Europe, and they had few and limited facilities. However, in themid-19th century, the urban space of Greek thermal spas and seaside resorts began to transform architecturally due to measures taken according to state policy and the increasing number of visitors. In this paper, I will attempt to study the architectural transformation of Greek spas and the profile of visitors and patients in the two phases of their development. My research is based on 19th-century primary sources (laws and doctrines, patient registries, medical reports, advertisements, postcards, novels andmemoirs). Iwill assert that in the first stage of their development (1833–1890) Greek resorts had minimal accommodation and leisure facilities. Their clientele consisted of patients and travellers from nearby locations who encountered the lack of proper medical care and accommodation establishments. In their next phase (1890–1930), the urban space of Greek spas was transformed to cater to the needs of a different clientele. Visitors to Greek spas were patients and holidaymakers who usually travelled with other family members. The square and the promenade of thermal spas and seaside resorts became centres of urban sociability. They stayed at luxury hotels, and they enjoyed the sociability of modern facilities (restaurants, theatres, and casinos).


Keywords: spas, seaside resorts, leisure, tourism, Greece


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References


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