Sulphur baths

The legend says that თბილისი was founded exactly at its current location because of hot springs that existed in different places throughout the city. The water coming from these springs contains sulphur and iron and is therefore a bit smelly, but it is also said to be healthy. I cannot prove that, but at least it is relaxing to hang out in hot water. 😉 The hot springs of თბილისი are typically between 24 and 45 degrees Celsius warm and today you’ll find the spas using them only in one place: the spa quarter underneath the Nariqala fortress next to the old city center.

In former days these spas were used to relax and to do business. Writers and poets from the East as well as from the West have witnessed and documented the Georgian spa culture. Public shared spas are nowadays rare – typically you would book a private room for two to eight persons. Within these rooms you’ll find a place to undress and sit down, a shower, a pool of hot water, places for massages and sometimes in bigger rooms also a pool with cold water and a sauna.

The spas are named after their owners and typically in Persian style with cupolas as a roof. The spa rooms are most often underground because some meters below todays street level the water pressure of the springs is more constant. After having a shower you enjoy sitting in the hot water that really challenges your body. Afterwards cooling down is a good option – and then starting over again. In most spas a traditional massage is available that has to be ordered upfront and directly paid to the masseur.

Private rooms in spas are paid per room and hour; they are typically reserved upfront (personally, via phone or Internet). If you just walk in without a reservation you need to be really lucky or pay for a larger room than you need. I tried Gulos thermal spa in the spa quarter which is really good – less decorated than other places, but a niceplace to relax. When you’re done, don’t miss out the short walk through the Leghvtakhevi gorge close to it.

Gulos thermal spa
თბილისი / Tbilisi

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