Whether you have just heard of the least known capital in Europe or perhaps got intrigued why everyone is in awe of Banja Luka, or you already plan to discover the most adventurous place in Bosnia & Herzegovina with its emerald Vrbas River, you are on the right page to find out another milestone – the origin of its cute name. There are a couple of versions, but according to the most probable one, the name itself reveals another treasure of this city. Established on the terrain rich with thermal springs, Banja Luka has been ever since renowned for its spa resorts. Thus, when there, don’t forget to explore the offers of this Spa Harbour (Banja=Spa, Luka=Harbour).
Gorgeous sulphurous springs have been first discovered and used by the Romans, who certainly knew well how to enjoy the natural beauties of this city. Since then, for centuries locals but also tourists appreciate the healing properties of balneotherapy. Besides therapeutical use, the abundance and eco-friendliness of these natural springs are primordial nowadays when the quest for alternative energy sources is getting a momentum.
In the old part of Banja Luka and in the proximity of the city, there are three zones with lavish thermo-mineral sources.
Srpske Toplice (previously called Gornji Šeher) is the oldest neighbourhood of this type in Bosnia & Herzegovina. According to some resources, Banja Luka (meaning “Spa Harbour”), got its name thanks to numerous thermal springs in this region. Located in the suburbs of the city, it has been developed by the Ottomans in 1580, but its thermal sources have been known since the Romans. In total, there are eight springs of thermal water in this area, with an average temperature of 32°C. There is also a swimming pool situated under the hill Banj Brdo. The whole area is a sort of natural reserve and protected as a botanical garden since it is a habitat of the maidenhair fern, a plant that survived the Ice Age and extremely rare in Europe.
If you are in the region of Banja Luka for a week, it is worthwhile spending a day at Slatina Spa, another famous spa resort, only 13 km on the northeast. This is a small unpolluted and calm town, where a complete “recharging of batteries” is guaranteed. Rich with thermal and mineral sources, whose average temperature reaches 42°C, this spa complex offers pools and thermal baths, but also fishing and hunting as some of the activities for those who wish. Another particularity is a mineral water ready for drinking.
The third spa resort is situated in the town of Laktaši, less than 20 km from Banja Luka. This is one of the oldest spas in the country, as it dates back to the Roman times as well. Even Austro-Hungarians enjoyed the healing properties of Laktaši Spa, calling it “the holy water” (Hailigewaser). This resort is particularly suitable and renowned for preparing the athletes for challenging competitions.
Apart from local inhabitants, thermal pools & baths, as well as hot water springs in Banja Luka, have been for centuries healing many visitors with different kinds of diseases. Also, possessing sources of mineral water for drinking is one more rarity nowadays when we live in the highly polluted world. So, when in Spa Harbour, why not trying to enjoy and relax as Romans did?
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