Kalithea Springs Spa, Rhodes: Old and New

Rotunda Kalithea Springs, Rhodes

Rotunda at Kalithea Springs, Rhodes

The Kalithea Springs Spa, a beautiful spot on the lovely island of Rhodes is a a place that my husband tells me we visited when we stayed on the island 15 years ago (yikes, 15 years…) I don’t remember a thing about it, but apparently it was in an unloved state, though situated in a gorgeous spot not far from the elegant town of Faliraki (just kidding) about 9km outside Rhodes Town.

These days, it looks very different, and that’s because Kalithea town council decided to renovate.

Old photo of Kalithea Springs

The History of Kalithea Springs

The red waters of the health-giving springs had been famous for their curative properties since Ancient Greece and the springs were known to the locals as Tsillonero which apparently is translated as water loosening the bowels – now, I know that nero is water but if anyone can give me a better translation of the whole word, I’d love to hear it.

The waters were said to cure treatment of “… arthritis, skin conditions, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, diarrhoea and intestinal conditions” according to the official leaflet of the Terme Calitea.

The buildings that remain today were built by the Italians who occupied the island from 1912 till 1947. This Eastern-inspired hydrotherapy clinic, designed by Italian architect Pietro Lombardi, opened in 1929, was designed to attract  visitors from all around the world.

The low buildings surrounded a little natural bay on which a quay was built to moor small tourist vessels, a large rotunda with arches, columns and fountains, a domed structure with pool, facilities that housed laboratories and offices, 200 lavatories (or so I’ve read): necessary as part of the cure was to consume a large amount of water in the morning.

In its unrenovated state, the site featured in a number of films, including …

Escape to Athena with Elliott Gould, Kalithea

Escape to Athena with Elliott Gould, Kalithea

… Escape to Athena with Elliot Gould (above) and the Guns of Navarone.  Also, according to a photograph in the Rotunda exhibition …

Zorba the Greek, widow in the square

Zorba the Greek, widow in the square

… Zorba the Greek, particularly the harrowing scene from which the photograph above comes.  (I haven’t been able to find anything to verify that one – Zorba was mostly filmed on Crete).

Kalithea Springs these days

Pics 2012 645

The buildings have been lovingly restored and you can now visit – there’s an entrance fee of 3 euros, although the red springs themselves no longer function. Now you can learn to dive here, have a bite to eat or a a coffee in the cafe, sunbathe to your heart’s content or just view the gorgeous buildings like we did (it’s a great photographer’s spot: my own featured here don’t do it justice).

And definitely have a look at the excellent photographic exhibition of on how the buildings looked before renovation:

Rotunda before renovation, Kalithea Springs

And they feature some of its past visitors:

Family visiting Kalithea Springs

Visitor at Kalithea Springs a few years back, Rhodes

There’s still work to be done to the central domed building, but it does look as if the building’s been prepared so perhaps that’ll be happening sooner rather than later. In the meantime it shows what the site was like pre tidying-up. This one’s of the inside of the dome:

Inside the dome, Kalithea Springs

So if you’re in Rhodes next year, do have a look-in and have a ponder on the history of the place. It’s not all ancient history on the island, you know!

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