The Baños de Vilo were restored by the Periana town hall
The hidden, free to access natural spa in Malaga province fed by warm sulphurous water gushing from the ground
Rural retreats

The hidden, free to access natural spa in Malaga province fed by warm sulphurous water gushing from the ground

In its heyday, the Baños de Vilo once had five healing pools but today only one remains

Javier Almellones


Tuesday, 27 February 2024, 19:35


A small spa pool fed by warm, healing, sulphurous waters can be found just a stone's throw from the town of Periana in Malaga province's Axarquía area.

The source for the Baños de Vilo, is supplied from a nearby spring like many other natural spas that can be found in the Andalucía region. It is believed by many that the mineral content of the water can help treat some skin conditions, while another curious feature of the spa is that the water temperature remains at a steady 21C, regardless of the time of the year.

Even now a small stream of water continues to flow from the spring, which does not seem to run dry despite the persistent drought plaguing Malaga province.

The site is free to access and relatively easy to find, although given how small the space is, it quickly fills up with people. The spa pool is just one metre deep and two metres wide. The stone construction around the pool is striking and even provides a certain degree of privacy. There is also a small bridge that facilitates access on foot and crosses the small Zapata stream, a tributary of the Guaro river.

There are those visitors who, even in the middle of winter, venture out for a light dip. Of course, the water, which flows in at a constant 21C, can cool down quickly at low temperatures. Spring time may be a more suitable season to take advantage of these beneficial waters.


It is not known for certain since when it has been used as a spa. There are texts that allude to a possible use in Roman times. However, for now, there is no archaeological or documentary evidence to confirm this. What has been confirmed is that what can be used and enjoyed today is the result of a refurbishment carried out in the 1990s, when Periana town hall took ownership of the space, which had previously been abandoned for almost a century.

It was used relatively frequently in the second half of the 18th century. In 1828, a set of six rooms was opened next to the Baños de Vilo baths for those who wished to spend the night after a long journey to the site. In its golden age, it even had a specialised doctor, Mateo Juan de Gámez, who issued the relevant prescriptions for treatments. There is even mention of some illustrious names who decided to take advantage of the beneficial waters of Baños de Vilo, such as General Ramón María Narváez, known for being one of the most influential politicians during the reign of Isabel II.

After several disputes and problems over the ownership of the site, which came to belong to the municipality of Vélez-Málaga, in 1907 the spa was almost flattened by a strong storm. It swept away the work carried out by the previous owner of the spa, Emilio de San Martín.

The Baños de Vilo once had up to five pools with a capacity of up to 30 people. Today only one remains, which barely holds four or five people. In spite of being far away from that splendour, the site is in a very good condition. It is well known to frequent visitors and even to those who stay in the rural apartments next to the spa, which were opened in 2013.

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