Europe: The spa town of Spa was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is included among ten other European cities that make up the cultural network known as the “great spa towns of Europe.”
Even if you aren’t looking for a spa treatment, you won’t be disappointed if you visit one of these 11 spa towns, which have just been designated as part of Unesco’s rich universal heritage. These blue gold towns and their exquisite design are well worth the journey!
SPA TOWNS: A HERITAGE TO BE PRESERVED
Spa towns have that unique combination of romance and quaintness. And with good reason: whereas hydrotherapy was popular between the 18th century and the 1930s, it is now out of favour.
However, as a consequence, water towns have created activities other than balneotherapy. Parks, casinos, music venues, theatres, and hotels, to name a few. Spa resorts drew not just spa clients seeking relief from different diseases, but also high society and celebrities seeking to see and be seen. Today, Unesco acknowledges this cultural legacy by recognising eleven European towns that have made mineral spring exploitation a global heritage.
1. SPA IN BELGIUM
She is the one who gave this cultural phenomena its name: Spa is the spa town par excellence, having been the first to export its iron-rich waters since the 16th century, so helping to popularise spa treatments. Even today, you may visit the thermal baths of Spa, which are nestled in a lush green surroundings. There are other wonderful spring hikes in the area, such as those along the Fagnes.
2. BADEN BEI WIEN IN AUSTRIA
Baden, located only 25 kilometres south of Vienna, is famous for its sulphur springs, which have drawn luminaries like as Beethoven and Mozart. There’s also an Art Nouveau spa and other ancient spas, some of which have been turned into museums.
3. VICHY IN FRANCE
If it is referred to as the “Queen of Spa Towns,” it is most likely due to its elegant and bourgeois look. Vichy seduces with its outstanding historical legacy, with its numerous parks, spa area, and the richness of its English, baroque, colonial-inspired, and art nouveau architecture. It also contains two thermal baths dedicated to the treatment of rheumatology, digestive disorders, and metabolic illnesses.
4. BADEN-BADEN IN GERMANY
Baden-Baden, located on the outskirts of Baden-famed Württemberg’s Black Forest, is a city noted for its thermal springs, which drew many affluent and prominent individuals in the nineteenth century. There are still twelve spas in operation today. Friedrichsbad, a Roman-built spa with water that may reach temperatures of 68°, is one of the oldest.
5. BAD EMS
The little resort town of Bad Ems, situated in the Nassau Nature Park, is famed for its therapeutic thermal baths, which are supposed to alleviate respiratory, allergy, and cardiovascular problems in particular. The location, which is nestled in the centre of a charming valley, also provides excellent walks through forested hills and scenic mountains. The river sauna floats on the Lahn river, and one of Germany’s steepest funiculars links the city centre to the Bismarckhöhe spa region.
6. BAD KISSINGEN IN GERMANY
In this Bavarian spa town that has existed since the 16th century, you can find seven thermal springs as well as mud baths famous for their virtues. The daily provision of warm water in Europe’s greatest hall of missing stairs has a lengthy history. Empress Sissi was well aware of the therapeutic and calming properties of natural thermal springs. Today, the KissSalis hot baths and a Sauna Park may be found there.
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7. MONTECATINI TERME IN ITALY
Montecatini’s thermal baths are among the oldest in Europe. Furthermore, it seems that the term “spa” is derived from the Latin “salutem per aqua,” which means “health by water,” rather from the Belgian city. The village of Montecatini alone is worth the trip if it is also an excellent starting point for touring Tuscany. It has attracted numerous celebrities, including Audrey Hepburn and Truman Capote, due to its majestic architecture and dolce vita ambiance. Federico Fellini even filmed several film sequences with Marcello Mastroianno there. Today, you may visit Thermes Excelsior or Tettucio’s hot spas.
8. BATH IN THE UK
Bath is a lovely town situated 25 kilometres from Bristol and 180 kilometres from London. It is regarded as one of the most attractive towns in England, because to its fine Georgian-style mansions, and it has famously served as the scene for Jane Austen’s books. Bath has been a spa resort since the 18th century and today has Britain’s only natural hot springs.
9. KARLOVY VARY OR CARLSBAD IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Karlovy Vary is the most significant spa town in the Czech Republic. This lively city surrounded by hills is two hours by rail from Prague and is nearly fully pedestrianised. It includes a few hundred natural hot springs as well as exquisite art nouveau architecture. Depending on the period of usage, its thermal water is good for drinking remedies, spa treatments, detox, and weight reduction.
10. MARIENBAD IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
This charming Bohemian city contains a spa that was built in 1818 and is still in use today. It is 600 metres above sea level and takes use of the 40 mineral springs in the Slavkov forest that surrounds it. The city’s exquisite architecture and blooming grounds make it one of Europe’s most stunning garden towns.
11. FRANZENSBAD IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Franzensbad, albeit less well-known than its sister towns Marienbad and Carlsbad, with which it forms the spa triangle of Bohemia, is a lovely town full of charm. It has been spared the floods of visitors who prefer to visit other spa towns, preserving its originality and the traditional beauty of 19th century spa towns. It seems to be a movie set!