Northeast of Gjirokastër is the Ottoman Kadiut Bridge and the Banjat e Benjës hot springs (sometimes referred to as Benja or Benje), which have become one of the most photogenic places in southern Albania. They are located near the village of Permet , where the Vjosa River crosses. Permet is the main town of the Hotova Spruce National Park (Bredhi i Hotovës-Dangëlli)
Ottoman bridge in Banjat e Benjës
Small waterfalls cascade and the river forms a winding meandering riverbed down the valley. It’s a great place to camp at the campsite, if you don’t mind spending the night breathing air saturated with the stench of sulphur. There is a lovely view of the Ottoman bridge and hot springs from a cave in the mountainside. Upstream you can walk over the rocks to enter the Langarica canyon.
Ottoman bridge Kadiut
The turquoise waters of the Langarica River flowing under the bridge. Built in the Middle Ages, it has been used for centuries to cross the river since the days when the Ottoman Empire controlled Albania. The name Kadiut means Judge’s Bridge (Ura e Katiut). The name comes from a legend that a judge (katiut in Turkish) was thrown from the top of the bridge. Remains of Neolithic settlements have been found in the karst caves near the bridge, dating to between 7000-3000 BC
Ottoman bridge at Kadiut
Banjat e Benjës Baths
The sulphurous waters of the river, warm even in winter, have properties for rheumatism, skin, gastric and kidney diseases. But it’s not just the mud baths that attract visitors to the hot springs, as the terraces built to contain the waters have become a natural spa for relaxation.
Hot springs of the Bënja pools
Near the bridge, you’ll find the Banjat e Benjës thermal baths, which originate from geothermal waters that bubble up from underground at around 30 degrees. The heated water flows downstream and terraces with stone walls were created to create artificial pools.
Winter, when the temperature in Përmet falls below 0 degrees Celsius, is the best time to immerse yourself in the warm waters of the hot springs. In summer, the river has less flow, but the people but the difference in water in the pools compared to the river, allows for a “small” spa circuit in the open air.
Enjoy this beautiful spot in the south of Albania with a bath in the thermal baths and a mud mask.
How to get to the Kadiut Bridge and hot springs of Banjat e Benjës
From the village of Permet it is almost 14 km to the Banja (or llixha as they are called in Albanian) hot springs, just twenty minutes by car, and three hours if you choose to walk.
Upon arrival, a small token fee is charged for access to the hot springs and for parking the car.
Either from Gjirokastër or Sarande, there are excursions to visit the hot springs and the Ottoman bridge.