The bath of the nymphs …
To the west of the prefecture of Ilia, 27 km from its capital, Pyrgos, lies the area known as Kaiafas, comprising a vast beach on the side of the Ionian sea, a coastal pine forest and the homonymous lake, which is the centre of health tourism in the area.
The healing properties of the Kaiafa lake waters have been known since antiquity; according to the ancient Greeks, they owed their properties to the nymphs who inhabited the forests surrounding the area. For that reason they honoured them with great piety, erecting splendid temples and sanctuaries in their name.
Those visiting Kaiafas today do so not only for the water therapy, but also to admire the unique natural landscape and to do activities such as sea sports, which are offered in the area. The beautiful, serene nature also sets the scene for total relaxation, away from the city’s rapid pace.
Kaiafas, with its lake and the unique natural landscape that surrounds it, is located on the border with the Municipality of Zacharo and comprises the huge, sandy coast traversing the entire coastal line of the bay of Kyparissia, the impressive pine forest of Strofilia, the plain of Xirochori-Zacharo and the mountain range of the mythical mountain Lapithas, on the western foot of which lies the spring of the Anigrides nymphs and on its eastern foot the spring of Geranios.
The warm, healing waters of the lake are considered suitable for skin conditions, rheumatism, various conditions of the liver and asthma, and have many times been exalted by those who tried water therapy as a solution to one of the aforementioned problems. The belief in their healing properties is an ancient one; according to Pausanias, the cave that lies to the area’s west, called “the cave of the Anigrides nymphs”, was inhabited by the nymphs Kalliafeia, Pigaia and Iasis. From the first one derives the name of the area today, Kaiafas, while the names of the other two testify to the existence of healing waters (pigi = spring, iasis = cure). According to myth, Dardanos, the ancestor of the Trojans, was born in the Anigrides cave. It is also said that in this spring the Centaur Nessos washed his wounds; he had been hit by the poisonous arrows of Hercules, which explains the waters’ foul smell.
This hydrotherapy centre is responsible for attracting many tourists in the area, of all ages and from all over the world. The healing waters are rich in hydrogen sulphide and their temperature remains stable at 20-30 °C between May and October, which is the most suitable period for water therapy.