Roman Thermal - village of Bansko

The Romans through their building activities have left visible traces on the territory of Municipality of Strumica. One of the most representative evidence is the late Roman thermo-mineral spa (Balneum) built in the III and IV century A.D. It is located 12 kilometers east of Strumica, at the foot of the Belasica mountain. The spa was discovered in 1978 during excavation work for the foundation of the Czar Samuil Hotel. The bath used the water with healing properties from the spring Parilo, located about fifty meters south-west of the object, with a capacity of 42 liters per second and temperature of 72°C, noticed by the Romans long time ago, and a great benefit used even in the later periods. Eleven rooms with a total area of 623 m2 and different functions have so far been discovered in the bath. They were built of bricks combined with stone and mortar where premier and harmonic polychromy is achieved. Heating inside was designed and constructed with a special system in which hot water was used to heat the floors and walls. The thermae is designed like most Roman buildings and was in the spirit of the health needs of the Roman culture. The roman bath had also a dressing room (apodyterium) for the clothes, and an area called “dipterium” where the sick were massaged with oil. The room “tepidarium” was located between the hot bath (caldarium) and cold bath (frigidarium). Walls are preserved from a height of 2 meters to up to 6.70 meters. The best preserved rooms are the ones that were used as sauna and the cold water pool called frigidarium. The main place was occupied by the baths and tub pool with depth of 1.5 m, and the pool itself had stairs. The sunlight that came through the windows made the interior private and urban and the pink oil and the ambergris of the steam gave it enchantment.

Apart from the therapeutic treatments, the thermae was also a place for the young athletes and the idle people. The current archaeological explorations witness that the spa existed even earlier for which witness the newly discovered old buildings. Built for the people from the ancient period the baths were the center of the social life. Kindergartens, gymnasiums, libraries were built around them, and there were temples dedicated to the gods which healed people’s health. The archaeologists from Strumica on this site continuously discover new findings such as the marble statue of the god Mercury, who is believed to have healing powers. The rest of the statue, which is missing the head and the shins, is half a meter high and its original height was approximately 1, 20 meters. Apart from the marble statue, another interesting discovery is the three bases of sculptures and ceramics, as well as an object in the near proximity of this thermal complex from the late roman period, which is one of the rarest preserved monuments of this type in Europe, and on whose restoration and conservation was worked more than two decades. Although it is early for conclusion, it is thought that the newly discovered building is a type of service object of the thermae or a completely new thermae.

The thermal springs remained an attraction for the people from this area until the late medieval times for which the toponym “Turkish bath” is a witness. The second known toponym is “fair” which suggests that around these springs the Christian believers not only prayed but also had fun and traded. With small technical interventions, this Roman thermae can be fully reconstructed, and regain the same function that it had more than one and a half millennium ago.