Yessentuki (Russian: Ессентуки́) is a city in Stavropol Krai, Russia, located at the base of the Caucasus Mountains. The city serves as a railway station in the Mineralnye Vody—Kislovodsk branch, and is located 43 kilometers (27 mi) southwest of Mineralnye Vody and 17 kilometers (11 mi) west of Pyatigorsk. It is considered the cultural capital of Russia’s Greek population and even today towards ten percent of its population is of Greek descent. Population: 100,996 (2010 Census); 81,758 (2002 Census); 85,082 (1989 Census).
In 1798, the Russian military and border redoubt of Yessentuksky was laid on the right bank of the Bolshoy Yessentuchok River, near its confluence with the Podkumok River. After the construction of the Kislovodsk fortress in 1803, the redoubt was abolished, and only the Cossack post was kept on its site. The mineral waters of Yessentuki were first probed in 1810 by the Moscow doctor Fyodor Gaaz. Gaaz found two small wells with salty water (the present Gaazo-Ponomaryovsky spring) in the valley of the stream of Kislusha, about 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) northeast of the Yessentuksky post. A detailed study of Bugunta mineral waters (the original name of the waters, after the Bugunta River flowing nearby) was made in 1823 by the Russian doctor and pharmacologist A. P. Nelyubin, who found twenty more mineral springs on the slopes of the mountain he referred to as Shchelochnaya (Nelyubin’s numbering of the Yessentuki mineral waters is still maintained). In 1825, General Yermolov founded the stanitsa of Yessentukskaya on the Bugunta River 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) northeast of the former Yessentuksky post; its inhabitants were engaged in trade, trucking, and serving arriving patients. In 1839, water from springs ##23-26 was led to the common pool, where the first two baths of the wooden bathhouse were built at the expense of the Cossack Regiment Management.
Since 1840, springs ##4 and 17 have come into use and become especially popular. Yessentuki was recognized as one of the best health resorts for treatment of the digestive organs. In 1846, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, the namestnik (vicegerent) of Caucasus, ordered to extend the territory of the stanitsa of Yessentukskaya to the northeast to approach the springs. Since then, Buguntinskiye mineral waters were referred to as Yessentukskiye. In 1847, some grounds closely adjacent to the springs were transferred to the newly established state Management of Waters in Pyatigorsk. In the late 1840s, bottling of Yessentuki waters and their dispatch to other cities of the country began. By the early 1870s, regular sale of the water was carried out in most of the large Russian cities. Construction of the Rostov-on-Don–Mineralnye Vody railway in 1875 and the Mineralnye Vody–Kislovodsk highway (via Pyatigorsk and Yessentuki) contributed to increase in the number of guests coming to Yessentuki for treatment. In 1883, the resort was visited by about 5,000 people; in 1900, by more than 13,000; in 1913, by 38,000. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, medical establishments, hotels, and summer residences were intensively built. In 1902, a seventy-bed sanatorium for the poor, the first one within the Caucasian Mineral Water system, was opened; in a year, the first departmental twenty-bed sanatorium for postal workers was built. In 1905, drilling of holes resulted in discovery of new springs (main spout of spring #17, new discharges of the water similar to the one of spring #4).
In 1917, the resort area was separated from the stanitsa of Yessentukskaya and was granted town status. During the Russian Civil War, resort facilities of Yessentuki fell into decay. Restoration work began only in 1920. In 1922, the clinical branch of Pyatigorsk Balneal Institute (the present Pyatigorsk Research Institute of Balneology and Physiotherapy) was opened. In 1925, the health resort operated six sanatoria and treated the total of about 13,000 patients. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the health resort was heavily damaged by Nazi occupation from August 10, 1942 to January 11, 1943 and was restored at the end of the 1940s.
In 1991, Yessentuki provided rest and treatment for more than 217,000 patients. In 1991, the health resort operated twenty-five sanatoria, including ten belonging to the trade unions; the number of beds totaled over 10,000. It also provided outpatient treatment and board and treatment authorization. Service of guests involved such facilities as a resort polyclinic with aerosun rooms and climatic pavilions; a therapeutic mud bath; three bathhouses: Nizhniye (lower) baths (50 baths), Verkhniye (upper) baths (90 baths), and a new bathhouse (110 baths); 4 drinking galleries and well-rooms of springs ##4 and 17; an inhalatorium shared by all the resorts; a department of mechanotherapy, applying special techniques of therapeutic physical training.