The “Ellopia” of Ionians in “Herodotus Histories “, the “Aidepsos” mentioned in Aristotle’s “Meteorology” , the Aedepso in “Natural History” of Pliny, the Edipsos in “Geography” of Strabo, “Of Euboea‘s Edipsos thou warm ” of Plutarch, the Leipsos of folk tradition and the Lipso of Alexander Moraitidis, are nothing but a long history references to the same city, to the bathin resort of Edipsos (Loutropolis of Edipsos). It remains unknown when and by whom it was built, however, it is certain that the thermal water was known before the 4th century, since according to the descriptions of Strabo, it was named “Hercules Thermal“. According to mythology, the goddess Athena asked Hephaestus to provide thermal water to region, so then she could give it to Hercules.
Hydrotherapy was introduced by Hippocrates as a healing method of many diseases, in the mid-5th century. This innovation has been very successful and Asclepieia were converted to regular sanatoriums where Balneotherapy was exercised with system and method, and was almost established as a basic need for healthy or unhealthy people. During the Roman domination’s era, it reaches the climax of its glory. Plutarch in his book “Life of Sulla” mentioned both, the natural beauty and rich flora and fauna of Edipsos area, as well as the famous banquets, which almost always accompany the spa. There, along with the serving of exceptional quality and wide variety of dishes, bathers had the opportunity to also enjoy the spiritual food offered by overnight conversations.
However, it took no longer than a short amount of time, when the role of hydrotherapy was misrepresented , moreover, as it happens in most aspects of the Roman’s way of life.The premises of the baths turn into orgies and debauchery areas, leading the prevalence of Christianity in a fierce persecution against all bathhouses. Thus, the spas like Edipsos were considered cursed and were deserted for a long period of time. With the passage of time and mitigating the fervid passions, the Christianity itself recognizes the value of hydrotherapy. Many monasteries were founded near spas and the idea, that water washes away the sins, prevails. The Middle Ages and the Ottoman era do not give us any evidence of their development or decline, while historical references start from 1835, the year that the liberation from the Turks took place.
At the end of the 19th century the independent Greek state begins its reconstruction process and the Baths of Edipsos certainly follow the same pattern. The street plan of the new city was confided to Bavarian scientists and was an initiative of Queen Olga, according to the modern standards and the first Greek urbanization sample, which was the neighboring spa town of Oreoi, undertook by her predecessor, Queen Amalia. Queen Olga, wife of King George I., had a soft spot for the city, where she founded her homonymous orphanage of that time, indeed, she was hosted in 1907 for some time at the hotel “THERMAE SYLLA”. The touristic reconstruction essentially begins in 1896 when the big landowner Errikos Tompazis builds the first modern hotel complex, the THERMAE SYLLA.
With the beginning of the 20th century hotels started being built one after another “HERAKLEION“, “STADION“, “AI PIGAI“, “AIGLI”, “AURA” “AKTI” and “ISTIAIA” are some of them. Simultaneously, private spas are created to meet the needs of bathers as well as luxury restaurants and taverns, clubs with live music and famous orchestral bands. The spa town of that time is the most important domestic and international tourism center. Famous shipowners, industrialists, politicians, artists and intellectuals, spend moments of rest and relaxation and the spa is known beyond the borders of Greece. Its reputation is characteristic during the Belle Epoque. Eleftherios Venizelos, Kostis Palamas and the great Marika Kotopouli were some of the eminent guests.
Since 1912, the seat of the Municipality is transferred to the Baths and with the contribution of refugees from Asia Minor, who arrived after 1922, new impetus is given to the development of the city, to fisheries, agriculture and trade. During the period of German occupation, cosmopolitan baths were fortunate . The occupation army used the hotel complexes for reception and accommodation for injured soldiers, thus avoiding the spa’s destruction.
After the war was over, they are quickly becoming once again the attraction for thousands of visitors. This time they arrive from the prosperous Egypt, Cyprus, Europe and America, people of politics, art and wealth, like Churchill, Onassis, Maria Callas, Greta Garbo, Omar Sharif, and Kostas Varnalis, spent pleasant hours, enjoying the accommodation and entertainment, while Menelaοs Lountemis, at his adolescent age, writes his book “Good Night Life” while working there as a waiter. Dimitris Psathas and Fokion Dimitriadis are having fun, teasing each other in the Aigli garden, some time later.
Before 1959, the access to the resort was quite difficult. Starting the journey from Athens, reaching Chalkida mainly by train, and thereafter by boat to the Baths. Due to lack of proper wharf, the ship anchored in the open sea and the passengers, with their baggage, arrived by small boats on the beach. Since the end of the 50’s, when the connection by ferry at Arkitsa location of Fthiotida prefecture was made, access became very easy. This enables thousands of visitors to come and enjoy the beautiful natural environment of a city with rich history and cosmopolitan past, but with a promising future as well.