The city of Ourense has some fountains from which water springs up at temperatures above 60º. We bathe in them because they have curative properties and they leave us to taste. Here we tell you why the water comes out hot and how to get to them.
The hot springs of Ourense
In Ourense and its surroundings we have enjoyed for thousands of years hot water springs and pools, called burgas, with beneficial properties for health.
To such an extent is their relevance in the region that the burgas of Ourense capital are considered the reason for the origin of the city. An example of this is the archaeological remains that surround them. The Romans built some thermal baths and dedicated aras thanking for the recovery of health.
But why does the water spring up hot from the interior of the earth?
There is an oral tradition in the city about an underground volcano that heats the water and that at any moment will erupt and devastate the city. Although the idea is appealing, it is not the truth. Yet the real reason is still fascinating.
The heating is due to geothermal energy, a process by which water from rain, snow, hail, etc. filters through fractures in the earth’s crust over thousands of years, heating up as it goes down.
The water is heated approximately one degree every thirty meters, to reach, for example, one hundred and fifty degrees at four thousand five hundred meters deep.
There comes a time when the boiling water and steam cannot continue to descend due to the impermeable properties of the rock and begin to rise outward along faults different from those used to descend, and when they reach the surface they create springs and pools of hot water.
Above we mentioned that the waters of the Burgas of Ourense cure diseases. This is because they have mineral-medicinal properties, which means that the chemical and physical composition of the water cures some diseases.
Not all the client waters that come from springs are mineral-medicinal, only those that have been endorsed by the state and declared of Public Utility.
These properties are achieved by the water because during its descent and ascent from the depths of the Earth it acquires the properties of the minerals it passes over.
In this way, no two waters are the same, neither because of their temperature nor because of their mineral-medicinal properties, since they reach different depths and pass through different rocks and minerals.
That is why we must look for the one that best suits our ailments.
In general, the burgas of Ourense and surrounding waters are indicated for the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and dermatological conditions.
The thermal baths in Ourense
The pools and hot water springs in Galicia are called burga/burgas. So it is not a proper name, it is a common name that in our case designates a specific area of the city.
Its origin is not very clear but most probably it comes from the Latin burca which means «sink».
Burgas of Ourense
In the city of Ourense there were three burgas. The one of Up that sprouts of a source of the century XVII, the burga of Down that flows of a monumental source of the century XIX and finally the burga of In the middle, that the city council has reconverted in a thermal pool for the enjoyment of the citizens and visitors.
In Ourense, in addition, several houses of baths were created (now disappeared) in the surroundings of the Burgas and also there were serious projects of creation of spas that were never carried out.
But the inhabitants of Ourense, not only used the hot water to cure diseases, but they also used it for everyday uses; cooking, washing dishes and clothes, and also for their businesses; as tanners or bakers who needed hot water for their work.
The thermal baths of the river
Along the Miño River there are other burgas that have been exploited for a long time. They are those of A Chavasqueira, O Tinteiro, Muíño da Veiga and Canedo-Outariz.
Muíño da Veiga and Canedo-Outariz are the furthest away from the city and the ones with the least memory.
O Tinteiro is a fountain that traditionally was used to collect water to take home and to cure your conditions by washing with it.
A Chavasqueira is the closest to the city and is also known as the Pozas do Bispo, since Cardinal Quevedo, being the Bishop of Ourense, ordered the conditioning of the area in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, relating it to the spa of Santiago das Caldas, now disappeared.
Cardinal Quevedo ordered to enable the area for the most comfortable water intake because the traditional way of doing it was to approach where the spring or pool was and with nearby stones to dam the water to achieve an amount that allowed a bath.
Therefore, returning to the 21st century, when the town council decided to rehabilitate all the burgas along the river, the pools that were created were made with stones from the area, recreating the traditional way of taking water.
How to get to all the hot springs from Grelo Hostel
As Burgas in Ourense center:
Rúa das Burgas, nº 16
These are very close to the Grelo Hostel, just under ten minutes walk. A short and nice walk through the historical centre. Ask us and we will give you the most suitable indications to your needs and time availability.
Pozas da Chavasqueira:
They are located on the banks of the Miño very close to the Old Bridge, they are free and from the Grelo Hostel you can go on foot in a walk of about 25 minutes through the old town. You can also go with the Thermal Baths Train that leaves from the Plaza Mayor, 8 minutes from the Grelo Hostel, or take the urban bus line number 26, one of its stops is 4 minutes from the Grelo Hostel.
Termas da Chavasqueira:
Due to the serious fire that occurred on 24 April 2019, these facilities remain closed and out of service.
They are located on the banks of the Miño river, very close to the Old Bridge, in fact in the same location as the Pools, the difference is that they are paid and besides enjoying the waters they also have other services, such as massages, sauna…
Obviously, the same as the previous ones from the Grelo Hostel you can go on foot in a walk of about 25 minutes through the old town. You can also go with the Thermal Baths Train that leaves from the Plaza Mayor, 8 minutes from the Grelo Hostel, or take the urban bus line number 26, one of its stops is 4 minutes from the Grelo Hostel.
It is located on the banks of the Miño, it is free and the best way to get there is to take the Train of the Thermal Baths that leaves from the Plaza Mayor 8 minutes from the Grelo Hostel and get off at the Pozas de la Chavasqueira and from there follow the walk downstream and in 15 minutes you arrive at O Tinteiro.
Muíño da Veiga
It is located on the banks of the Miño, it is free and the best way to get there is to take the Thermal Baths Train that leaves from the Plaza Mayor, 8 minutes from the Grelo Hostel, and get off at its own stop.
Pozas of Canedo-Outariz
It is located on the banks of the Miño, three kilometres from the city. It is free and the best way to get there is to take the Thermal Baths Train that leaves from the Plaza Mayor, 8 minutes from the Grelo Hostel, and get off at its own stop, which is the end of the line.
Another way to get there is to take the number 5 urban bus line, whose closest stop to the Grelo Hostel is in the Parque de San Lázaro, about 12 minutes walk from the Grelo Hostel. You can also get there by private car by taking the OU-402 road on the left bank of the river.
These two motorized options leave us in the parking lot, you cross the footbridge and you are already in these free pools, from the footbridge you have to go upstream for the walk and in five minutes you arrive at Termas de Outariz.