August 10, 2016

The Sad Fate Of Sliven's Mineral Springs

I'll try not to make this too long. I simply want to share the fate of a very valuable Bulgarian site and natural resource, a true gift from God and nature.

On the way from Sliven to the village of Zlati Voyvoda, where we were going to visit relatives, we decided to stop and check out the Sliven Mineral Springs - a bathing and healing mineral water spring complex that offers (or used to offer) various spa treatments, therapies and healing procedures. All of this was enabled by the unique properties of the naturally mineralized water, emerging from underground springs at a temperature of 48 degrees celsius. The water has a distinct taste due to the various minerals it contains and has been proven beneficial for a number of conditions, both external and internal, throughout the years. Indeed, I have heard it compared to the famous spas at Karlovy Vary many times.

Literally, right up until the time we actually entered the complex, I had no idea it was no longer open. This alone was a great surprise to me. Every time I had passed by the Sliven Mineral Springs complex (which is quite enormous, I believe close to 600 acres, and has its own entry and exit road signs, just like any inhabited area), I always thought that the baths were still functional. Still more shocking was the state of affairs that became apparent upon actually entering the grounds.

Doors are rusted or padlocked shut, and more or less everything in the complex is decayed and destroyed by either humans, the elements or both. It is an incredibly sad picture regardless, but even more so, considering how things used to be “back in the day”. We learned from a few people we met and talked to, that years ago (when Bulgaria was still under socialist rule) the Sliven Mineral Springs were an incredible place to be. The valuable healing waters were not the only attraction: vacation homes and complexes, football pitches, sanatoriums, athletic fields and halls and kids’ camps were all part of what was a large and busy wellness center that, among other things, had its dedicated bus line transporting people from the nearby city of Sliven. The grounds were beautiful and vibrantly green with gardens and the complex offered healing procedures and a variety of activities to all its visitors.

A man that we met while walking around, informed us that currently the center is the property of a well-off gypsy by the name of either Sali or Salim, who bought it a few years back, but after a while lost interest in taking care of it. I can’t confirm his statements, but if they are indeed true, it is appalling that such a valuable national (or it should be, anyway!) property and resource is made available for sale to private parties. Yes, I already know that "this is Bulgaria” and anything goes, but still, these matters have to be brought up and ultimately addressed.

It’s a pity that I don’t have any pictures from the heyday of the place. I would love to see the contrast between what once was and what currently is - it must be truly staggering. But enough for words - they can only say so much. Images always speak much better!


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