Turkey is not only the country with 1001 thermal resources, it is also known as the first place to have thermal springs in world history - the Hierapolis, which is close to the worldly famous natural wonder Pamukkale, has been the place where the Roman Empire’s family members and other well-known wealthy people in history had come to in search of health.
It is no wonder that there is a clear intuition and understanding of Wellness and Thermal cures in this country because it started in ancient times, and has been brought to its highest levels throughout thousands of years in Turkey. Whether it is the Hellenes or the Romans, which, according to the Romans beliefs a healthy mind can only be in a healthy body or the highly civilised Byzantines that continued this tradition in Anatolia. Or let it be the Turks with Islamic beliefs and cleansing the body while praying everyday to God. All of them searched and developed ways in the Anatolia to keep the body and soul clean and healthy. In fact, they turned it into a form of art.
You can almost consider Wellness as an Anatolian invention. During the Hellene and Roman ages, people were oiled and bathed with tools used in those days, by their slaves at public baths. Then the hot bath culture came, firstly by the Seljuk’s but more intensively, later on by the Ottomans where they moved it into the palace and where this luxury developed further.
In the meantime, hand massages were invented and developed during the same time period in East Asia. But in Anatolia lighting effects, herbal essences and music was used for a more complete treatment, to revive and relax the brain and body. This relaxation and restoration was an example for many folk songs and poems. This treatment was not only for elite groups. The number of historical baths present in Turkey’s cities, indicate that in the Ottoman medieval ages these baths were open to the public.
The purification with hot water was so natural, relaxing and curing that it became common to go to the bath, generally on Fridays, at least once a week. Yet, people in Europe were only bathing their whole bodies once a year in those times.
Thus, it is no wonder that when the word Wellness became popular almost 10 years ago that Turkey was the first to grasp the importance of it and immediately respond to it. The first Wellness and Hot Springs Association was formed when Vural Öger was president and when I was secretary general. It is also a member of the European Hot Springs Union and the association is now known as Türkspa where Prof. Zeki Karagülle is one of the directors.
Of course, in the last couple of years Turkish hoteliers and others in Turkish tourism business responded as a priority. They invested into the right channel, with the Euro and its increasing value along with the growing Wellness sector, seizing the opportunities that hot springs and health tourism brought. Thus, Turkey can be proud to possess some of the world’s best Wellness Hotels.
- Hüseyin Baraner
Managing Director | TRAVEL NETWORK