chapter 4

 

CHAPTER FOUR

HYGIENE AND HEALTH

Immediately after settling in „Batalova Vodenitsa“, the residents of the neighborhood were facing serious domestic problems. As I have already mentioned, the houses were small and inconspicuous. They were a denial of any hygiene at all. The inhabitants were living in the worst-looking misery, of which wass very difficult to go out. Not all streets had a water supply network. In most cases the fountains were in the yards, and for boilers and hot water no one had heard. In the hot summer days, the bravest and impatient men and children used the still-clean waters of the „Vladaya“ River for bathing. But the problem of maintaining elemental hygiene was constantly at the forefront. It affected the health of local people and was constantly worrying about them. Different types of illness accompanied their everyday life.
The personal hygiene of the neighbours required, above all, regular bathing. After the First World War only the Sofia Mineral Bath was working in the capital. It was opened on 13 May 1913 and was one of the most modern in Europe. The building was built in the so-called national-romantic style and is among the most beautiful and representative in Sofia. The facades have a rich majolica decoration of friezes with plant, geometric and zoomorphic motifs in the modern Secession style. The bathroom is on two floors and the total area is 5000 sq.m. For convenience, it is divided into 2 wards – female and male. Served by a dedicated medical staff and numerous support staff. Separate rooms for hydrotherapy (water treatment), electrotherapy (electrical treatment) and calotherapy (treatment with Italian mud „Morbit“). The water in the bathroom is naturally mineral. The flow rate is 110 liters per second or 396 000 liters per hour. There are two swimming pools, which are 18 meters long and 7 meters wide. In one part the depth is 2 meters, in the other – 1,2 meters. The temperature of the water in them is 23-26 degrees, and in the small warm pools 37 and 46 degrees respectively. The latter were used to treat rheumatism. Employees strictly followed in the pools not to enter sick from contagious skin diseases. Bathroom usage rates were relatively low. Here are some of them. Warm Baths: 1st class – 1 lev, 2nd class – 80 stotinki. Bathrooms: 1st class – 1,6 leva, 2nd class – 1,3 leva, 3rd class – 1 leva. Swimming pools: Class I – 50 stotinki, 2nd class – 40 stotinki, students and minors – 20 stotinki. This made the Sofia Mineral Bath available to all sections of the population. It ran from 5am to 3pm. Around 800 to 1,000 people arrive daily from all corners of the capital. Due to the lack of transport, the inhabitants of Batalova Vodenitsa were on foot and usually used the bathroom services once a week. There is no statistical data and can not be estimated what their number is. But they were not much, as the great distance they had to travel had a deterrent effect. Most of the residents in the neighborhood remained faithful to their primary domesticity and continued to satisfy their hygiene needs at home. The Central Mineral Bath had been in operation for more than seven decades, and several generations of Sofia and guests from the province had passed through it. It was closed in 1986. Today in the building there is the modern exposition of the Regional History Museum – Sofia, which opened in September 2015.
Morbidity among the inhabitants was not small. The most common diseases were scarlet fever, diphtheria, pneumonia, malaria, smallpox, various types of epidemics, tuberculosis and other diseases. Some of them disappeared after World War II, but there was an increase in diabetes, cardiovascular and kidney disease, neuropathy and other illnesses. And the cardinal question arose immediately where to treat the sick. During the first three decades after the emergence of the neighborhood there was no polyclinic. For this reason, the neighbours were forced to seek medical assistance in one of the capital’s hospitals. At the end of the 1920’s, they had a total of 20, of which 4 were state-owned, 1 municipal and 15 private. The „Red Cross“ Hospital was the closest to „Batalova Vodenitsa“ and the people living in the neighborhood were using to its services.