Albania’s thermal baths have been enjoyed since Roman times. In the 20th century, some of them were developed into spas – they are known generically by the Albanian word Llixhat (the indefi nite form is Llixhe). The first to have its waters scientifically tested was Park Nosi, in Llixhat e Elbasanit. The water here was first analysed in 1924, and the spa was built in 1932 by a businessman from Elbasani, Grigor Nosi (a brother of the politician Lef Nosi). Detailed research into the chemical components of the water was conducted by a Czech scientist between 1932 and 1936; the main elements are sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium. The spa treats a range of ailments, including rheumatism, circulatory problems and skin complaints such as eczema. The water is said also to aid fertility. The springs at Park Nosi rise from 13,000m below the surface and emerge at 56°C; the current administrator remembers, as a child, his grandfather Grigor Nosi boiling an egg for him in the thermal water. Nowadays, many other spa hotels have been built at Llixhat e Elbasanit, although some of them pump their water from underground, rather than allowing it to emerge naturally, as is supposed to be better for the conservation of its medicinal properties.
The current administrator remembers, as a child, his grandfather Grigor Nosi boiling an egg for him in the thermal water.
Another spa hotel, built during the communist period, is near Peshkopia. The water here emerges at between 35° and 43°C; its principal minerals are potassium and sulphur. People come to this spa from Macedonia and Kosova, as well as from other parts of Albania; the waters are said to be of great benefit in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.
The prices for treatment at these spas are astonishingly low by northern European standards. A two-week course of treatment at the municipally run hotel at Peshkopia, with full board, costs about €200. At Park Nosi, a single bath, with the obligatory medical examination, costs 100 lek (less than €1) and a session of mud therapy is 1,000 lek.
Spas can also be found near Fushë-Kruja and Leskoviku, and there are free thermal baths, open to the elements, in various places around the Albanian mountains. One of these is at Bënja, near Përmeti, and is a large pool fed by several thermal springs. Finally, there are numerous drinking water springs, which are also said to have beneficial medical effects; these are often known as Uji i Ftohtë, the Albanian for ‘cold water’.