ITB Berlin-min

European Spa Culture will have a great presence at ITB Berlin

EHTTA will be attending the world’s largest tourism fair with seven of its members and with the Great Spa Towns of Europe as a special partner.

The world’s largest tourism trade fair, ITB Berlin, is taking place in Germany’s capital from March 5 to 7, 2024. At ITB Berlin over 5.500 exhibitors from 165 countries will be present, welcoming travel trade visitors over the three days of the event, and also online.

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) will be present in the Medical & Health Pavilion, located in hall 3.1 as one of the major partners in this part of ITB Berlin. Several member towns and regions from the Association have taken the opportunity to be present in person with EHTTA, and to engage in meetings and presentations.

For EHTTA President Riccardo Mortandello this international travel fair is the first major event for him in his new role at the head of the Association. He describes its importance for European Historic Thermal Towns:

“EHTTA plays a fundamental role in promoting the cultural and environmental excellence of our destinations. Our towns have always been places of culture and creativity, great architecture and impressive heritage, while at the same time being health destinations, bringing together tourism, sport, health and well-being. The challenge is to also present all this from a new and alternative perspective, especially for younger generations, linking it to cultural tourism.”

With the slogan “Immerse yourself in the spa culture of Europe” the stand will attract visitors with its eye-catching pictures and a range of activities including the creation of and atmosphere of true wellbeing.

“Our positive experience last year as a major partner in the Medical & Health Segment of ITB Berlin encouraged us to develop the visibility of European spa towns even further for 2024. Thanks to seven engaged and enthusiastic members and the Great Spa Towns of Europe as co-exhibitors we are able to present our thermal destinations and the European Spa Culture in an even bigger way this year,” says Executive Director Simone Zagrodnik.

“Not only do we have a bigger and even more impressive stand, we have many activities which will certainly add to the attractiveness and appeal of our stand. It’s going to be a very exciting fair for us this year!”

Montegrotto Terme’s “Aquaemotion”, will demonstrate aqua fitness elements several times a day introducing visitors to their daily work as well as offering them the opportunity to test thermal mud treatments.

At a special water bar water will be available from two of the Catalan spa towns’ water brands: Font Vella and Catalan Vichy. These famous brands are joined by water from Budapest, organised by Budapest Spas.

An invitation to stop and rest in one of many deck chairs is offered at the “Spa Cinema”, where visitors can relax and enjoy videos from a great variety of thermal destinations all over Europe. The Spa Cinema is supported by the Austrian spa town of Baden bei Wien.

The Medical & Health Pavilion offers a wide range of presentations and panel discussions, where EHTTA and its partners will be present several times:

On Wednesday, 6th March it is about sustainability in spa towns:

First Budapest Spas will take the floor, speaking about heritage and responsibility, followed by the panel asking
“Is Sustainable Tourism the best kept secret of European Spa Towns?”. The Great Spa Towns of Europe will introduce the topic with a keynote presentation from Secretary General, Chiara Ronchini, followed by a conversation among FITReisen and thermal destinations Baden bei Wien, Catalonia Thermal Towns and Slovenian Spas.

On Thursday, 7th the focus is on health tourism, sport and fitness and for this session, the European Historic Thermal Towns Association together with FITReisen has invited experts to speak about the tight connection between those elements. Montegrotto Terme, Hungary Tourism Association and HTI Partner from Croatia are all involved in the panel discussion, which promises to be very informative!

A presentation about the work and the benefits of thermal water by Aquaemotion from Montegrotto Terme will follow. The afternoon will be wrapped-up with the “FITReisen Health & Talk”, inviting experts to speak about the trends and needs of customers.

EHTTA President Riccardo Mortandello

New President for the European Historic Thermal Towns Association

At its General Assembly, held in Budapest last week, members of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) elected Riccardo Mortandello, Mayor of Montegrotto Terme in Italy to be their new President, the fourth person to hold this office since the foundation of EHTTA almost exactly 14 years ago.

Mr Mortandello has been the Mayor of Montegrotto Terme, in the Province of Padua, since 2016. He is also the Vice President of ANCOT (Associazione Nazionale Comuni Termali), the Italian Association of Thermal Towns. He is a communications and marketing expert, and is the founder of the tourist destination
“Termae Colli Euganei” which has been developed successfully to promote both Montegrotto Terme and Abano Terme and the region, which is not far from Venice.

In his first speech to EHTTA Members, the Association’s new President played tribute to past Presidents of the Association, Christian Corne, Giuseppe Bellandi and Manuel Baltar, and to the Vice Presidents of the Association as well as the Executive Director, Simone Zagrodnik. He pledged his support to members and to the Association, before continuing:

“As we know, the thermal sector is various and complex, and the challenge to aspire to, therefore, lies precisely in networking, that is, in the creation of a spa network of contacts with common objectives on a professional, cultural and tourist level. Collaboration between all members of the network is therefore fundamental, offering support to those who need it and sharing knowledge and experiences; develop a structured governance system that allows the involvement of European institutions, individual member states, regional, provincial and local bodies, trade associations and consortia with territorial interest.”

Mr Mortandello believes that:

“EHTTA can play a fundamental role in promoting the cultural and environmental excellence of our territories. Our towns have always been places of culture and creativity, great architecture and impressive heritage, while at the same time being health destinations, bringing together tourism, sport, health and well-being. The challenge is to propose all this also from a new and alternative perspective, especially for the young generations, linking it to cultural tourism.”

After calling EHTTA Members to support lobbying at the European level in support of the thermal sector, he

“I am convinced that together we will be able to achieve great results, because our thermal realities have always been an added value to our territories, which must be preserved and which we should be proud of!”

The EHTTA Executive Council also elected its fifth Vice President, Isidre Pineda, Mayor of the Catalonian town of Caldes de Montbui. He completes the group of Vice Presidents, which consists of Eric Brut from Route des Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central, Markos Danas from the Hellenic Association of Municipalities with Thermal Springs, Isabelle Grégoire from Spa and Victor Leal from Sao Pedro do Sul.

At the General Assembly in Budapest, Viterbo in Italy was accepted as a new member, bringing the total number of members to 51 in 20 countries by January 2024.

The next General Assembly of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association will be held in the Imereti Region in Georgia from 22-24 April 2024.

Opening_Group Picture Authorities

EHTTA and UNWTO present a successful “Thermal Congress” in Nancy (France)

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) held its second International Congress on Thermal Tourism in Nancy (France) last week. With the participation of UNWTO and hosted by the Métropole Grand Nancy and Fédération Thermale et Climatique Française, “The Thermal Congress” was a great success, attracting more than 400 delegates from more than 20 countries around the world to meet, network and discuss different aspects of thermal tourism in Europe and the world.

The International Thermal Congress was arranged to coincide with the French “Meetings of Spa Therapy and Wellness”, which included one day of meetings of French institutions and associations from the Thermalism sector.

Ion Vilcu, Director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Department, congratulated the organizers of the Thermal Congress and the hosts for their commitment and partnership with UNWTO. He underlined EHTTA’s valuable membership, “which has had an essential contribution on placing the issue of Thermal Tourism in a priority position on the UNWTO agenda. This Congress underscores the importance of our collective mission to unlock the potential of thermal resources for the well-being of residents and visitors alike, while advancing in the evolution of thermal destinations towards sustainability.”

In his welcome speech, EHTTA Vice President Eric Brut reminded thermal destinations and spa towns all over the world to be proud of their special characteristics and said: “We need to let each spa define its own path, write its own story, with the profile of each spa ranging from the most medical to the most developed tourist destination thanks to its sports, wellness, cultural, heritage, gastronomic, outdoor and events activities.” He also stressed the need for attracting new customers (for example younger and more family-oriented clients) by making the destinations and towns more attractive.

The Thermal Congress 2023 was a one-day event, with an extensive and varied programme featuring five panels.
A total of 23 high-level speakers from seven countries with Japan and the USA among them, discussed cross-border cooperation, the potential of a European thermal observatory, thermal tourism around the globe, the assets of natural mineral water and the challenges related to energy management and sustainability strategies.

Representatives from other important European associations such as the Great Spa Towns of Europe and the European Spas Association contributed to the topics discussed. Moderator Julie Merckling ensured that the delegates heard an interesting debate, and kept the discussions on track.

Following the success of the Thermal Congress, both EHTTA and UNWTO are aiming to hold the next Thermal Congress in two years’ time, in 2025.


EHTTA announces programme for the next European Thermal Heritage Day in Mondariz-Balneario (11-13 October)

Reflecting on the origin and evolution of historic thermal towns

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA), will host the next European Thermal Heritage Day with the support of the Mondariz Balneario Municipality, the Rural Development Group Condado Paradanta, and the Balneario de Mondariz and Aguas de Mondariz. This annual event will take place from
11th – 15th October in Mondariz-Balneario (Galicia, Spain). A varied programme of conferences, visits and parallel activities to reflect on therapeutic landscape in thermal towns, coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Public Utility of mineral waters of Mondariz.

EHTTA’s 6th European Thermal Heritage Day will begin on 11 October, with an opening ceremony which will include important local representatives from the Municipality and the organising committee.

During the panel, as part of a hybrid event, experts from Europe and America will analyse the origin, structuring elements in urban development and future perspectives of four contrasting thermal towns: Mondariz-Balneario (Spain), Caldas da Rainha (Portugal), Spa (Belgium) and Saratoga Springs (USA).

Presentations will be given by the following experts, followed by a Q&A session.

  • Mario Crecente (EHTTA Scientific Committee President),
  • Jorge Mangorrinha (PhD, Centro de Estudos Globais da Universidade Aberta),
  • Anne Pirard (Spa local site manager for WHS Great Spa Towns of Europe)
  • Samantha Bosshart (Executive Director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation).

Finally Álvaro Bonet will speak live from Madrid to present the figure and works of Antonio Palacios,one of the most important architects in Spain during the first half of the 20th century. He was responsible for some of the most representative buildings in the capital, and played a key role in the design of Mondariz-Balneario.

Following the presentations on the first day, as part of a wider programme of visits and events, there will be a guided tour to the therapeutic landscape of Mondariz, visiting its fountains, buildings, gardens and parks and learning more about the myths and legends in the company of a local tour guide.
Full details of the whole programme including the exploration of the Therapeutic Landscape can be found in the Notes to Editors below.


– ENDS –

For further information please contact:

Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director:

Historic Thermal Towns on social media | HistoricThermalTowns | HistoricThermalTowns
HistoricThermalTowns | @HistoricThermalTowns
@ThermalTowns | European-Historic-Thermal-Towns-Association

#HistoricThermalTowns #thermaltravels #europeanthermalheritageday #thermalheritage

Notes for Editors:

1. EHTTA is a membership organisation representing 50 members in 18 European countries and has two
international partners.
2. EHTTA was certified as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe in 2010 and is one of 48 Cultural Routes of
the Council of Europe which provide a wealth of leisure and educational activities for all citizens across
Europe and beyond and are key resources for responsible tourism and sustainable development. The
certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” is a guarantee of excellence.
3. EHTTA was founded in 2009 with six Founding Members: Acqui Terme (Italy), Bath (UK), Ourense (Spain),
Salsomaggiore Terme (Italy), Spa (Belgium) and Vichy (France).
4. Since 2019 the association has been an Affiliate Member of UNWTO. In September 2022, EHTTA signed the
Glasgow Declaration on Climate Change in Tourism.
5. EHTTA’s European Thermal Heritage Day has been recognized as an example of Best Practice by the
European Institute of Cultural Routes (2018)

Additional Information on the Conference Programme (Oct 12–15)

October 12th

A complete programme of activities, visits and workshops will allow participants to discover the natural and
cultural values of Mondariz Balneario:

  • Morning walk along the river to the Troncoso fountain, to discover its history and learn about its
  • On the way back to the hotel, a local guide will present all the secrets of the town’s villas and
  • Afternoon: archaeological visit to Castro de Troña as well as to other nearby points of interest.
  • The day ends in the spa gardens, with a botanical workshop and a theatrical visit based on the life
    in the spa at the beginning of the 20th century.

October 13th

An introduction to some of the main attractions of the Condado-Paradanta destination, where Mondariz
Balneario is located:

  • Aguas de Mondariz bottling plant (with the director of the company)
  • Interpretation Centre of Wine and Lamprey, two of the main local gastronomic products.
  • Guided tour and cocktail at a local winery
  • Science Museum Wine, one of the largest spaces for disseminating viticulture and oenology in
  • Finally, a dramatized visit will recreate some of the most important historical events of Condada

October 14th and 15th :

The visit concludes with a complete relaxation programme at Balneario de Mondariz through the “Mondariz 150-year special programme” made up of private aquagym classes, thermal circuits and other complementary activities, such as the buggy circuit around the golf course and an initiation class in this discipline.

EHTTA celebrates Europe Day in Baden bei Wien

EHTTA General Assembly, Café of Europe and Europe Day all celebrated in Baden bei Wien!

Bathrobe Addicts in Baden bei Wien five people in Bathrobes in the centre of a street
A group of people in a conference hall all representing themrla towns in Europe

Bathrobe Addicts representatives from Vichy, Baden bei Wien, Ourense, Spa and La Route des Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central 

Members of the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns in Baden bei Wien for their General Assembly.

Download the full press release in English here

EHTTA General Assembly, Café of Europe and Europe Day all celebrated in Baden bei Wien!

The European Historic Thermal Towns spring General Assembly was held in Baden bei Wien from 9th to 11th May 2023, and 65 representatives from 15 countries participated in the full programme.

The General Assembly officially welcomed new member Baile Herculane from Romania and new Associate Members, the Catalan Thermal Towns Association and Métropole Grand Nancy. They each received the official membership plaque and the diploma of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.

EHTTA’s Café of Europe looked
at the topic “Music in Spa Towns” with an impressive opening for the audience with Johannes Leopold Mayer, author and music editor, accompanied by pieces from Mozart, Beethoven, who had both lived and worked in Baden bei Wien. After lectures about modern festivals in spa towns with examples from Spa (Belgium), Bad Kissingen (Germany) and Baden bei Wien (Austria) the audience was invited to the Beethoven house to learn and listen to the famous musician’s life and works.

The Bathrobe Addicts event made a big impression on the public of Baden bei Wien. Created in the Route des Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central, the concept (“Les Across du Peignoir” in the original French) has started to travel around Europe.  Member towns have picked up the idea,  and after Spa it was Ourense in Galicia last year and now Baden bei Wien which have committed themselves to this movement.
“We want to bring the attitude, this very special feeling of comfort and wellbeing back to our town” said tourism director Klaus Lorenz.

The next EHTTA General Assembly will be held in Budapest on 30th November – 1st December

Europe Day – Press Conference in Baden bei Wien

Another event to run alongside EHTTA’s General Assembly was a celebration of Europe Day (9th May).  Mayor of the host town, Baden bei Wien, Stefan Szirucsek held a press conference for local media together with two Vice Presidents of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association.  As Chairman of the Great Spa Towns of Europe World Heritage Site as well as a member of EHTTA, he welcomed all the delegates,vand said how pleased he was that EHTTA was holding its General Assembly in Baden bei Wien around Europe Day, putting the town at the centre of European Thermalism during these three days.

Mayor Stefan Szirucsek said:
“Thermal cities were and are places where people from all over the world meet. These cities played a leading role in the development of tourism in Europe, they stand for sustainable cultural development and they focus on the protection of the built-up and natural environment.”

Isabelle Grégoire, EHTTA Vice President, said:

“We are a proud network of thermal towns, regions and even villages, which represent a very special European phenomenon – that of thermalism and spa towns.  Baden bei Wien, like my own town of Spa in Belgium is an especially good example of this phenomenon – and it is one of the reasons that Baden bei Wien and Spa are among  the eleven towns that make up the Great Spa Towns of Europe World Heritage Site, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2021.  We are very happy to say that all eleven towns of the Great Spa Towns of Europe, are also part of EHTTA.”  

She continued, “On this very special day today, on EUROPE DAY, it is not only a great opportunity to take
part in this European reunion, it makes me – all of us – even more proud to be able to share it with the people in Baden, in Austria and all over Europe.”

During the press conference EHTTA Vice President Markos Danas shared more details about the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme with the media present, pointing out that there are 14 Cultural Routes crossing Austria, among them the very new Historic Cafés Route, the European Route of Jewish Heritage Route, the European Mozart Ways, Transromanica and the Via Habsburg, to name just a few. These examples show the opportunity the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns has to develop closer thematic partnerships in the future – in Austria and all other countries where
member towns and regions have “crossing routes”. 

– ENDS –


European Route of Historic Thermal Towns/European Historic Thermal Towns Association

Simone Zagrodnik, Executive Director


EHTTA and the Great Spa Towns of Europe at ITB

EHTTA and Great Spa Towns of Europe exhibit at ITB together!

Download the full press release in English here

The European Route of Historic Thermal Towns and the Great Spa Towns of Europe are attending ITB Berlin (the world’s biggest travel and trade fair) together this week.  For both organisations it’s an important milestone for many reasons, and another great example of working together, after several significant joint projects in the last 18 months, including attending ITB online together in 2021 and 2022, where both organisations have developed a strong partnership with the ITB Berlin Organisers and the “Medical and Health Pavilion” partners.

Delegates can attend ITB Berlin in person for the first time in three years, and this is an exciting joint venture for both Associations, as well as their co-exhibitors, Baden bei Wien (Austria), Caldes de Montbui (Spain), Pozar Thermal Baths (Greece), and the Province of Ourense (Spain).  The stand is in the Medical & Health Pavilion in Hall 26c, alongside many big names in the world of spa town travel and accommodation.

Simone Zagrodnik, the Executive Director of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA), which is responsible for running the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns, a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, said, “All members of the Great Spa Towns of Europe are also members of EHTTA, and this kind of promotional activity is perfect for us all.  We are very excited to have a stand together where we will invite ITB delegates to “Immerse yourself in the Spa Culture of Europe”.  All our spa towns, whether in the 18 countries of EHTTA or the 7 of the Great Spa Towns of Europe are perfect destinations, combining wellness and health, culture and heritage with a centuries-old tradition of welcome.  We also have an entertaining and fun space promoting “Les Acros du Peignoir”, or #Bathrobe Addicts, a movement that originated in the Route des Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central, and is migrating through Europe – first to Spa in Belgium, and then to Ourense in Spain, and next to Baden bei Wien in Austria.  Look out for the bathrobes – a symbol of relaxation and healthy lifestyles the world over!”.

Health and wellbeing are more important than ever before and are proving to be significant themes in tourism right now, and so more visibility in this area was seen to be important.  For this reason both the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns and the Great Spa Towns of Europe will be present as partners at the Media Lunch on Tuesday as well as at the Medical night on Wednesday evening in downtown Berlin. They and their co-exhibitors are also making several presentations and attending panels throughout the three days of ITB, giving delegates a flavour of the breadth of the wellness, cultural heritage and tourism offer available in these remarkable towns (see below in notes to editors for more details). 

Chiara Ronchini, the new Secretary General of the Great Spa Towns of Europe said, “the Great Spa Towns of Europe were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2021, partly because they tell the story of all spa towns in Europe.  These towns developed around curative mineral and thermal springs and developed a whole way of life based around health, wellbeing, heritage and culture, as well as a very particular urban landscape.  While the “Great Spa Towns of Europe” are the outstanding examples of this phenomenon, the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns represents the wider movement with towns stretching from the Ukraine to Portugal.  We are proud to represent members of a UNESCO World Heritage Site AND a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe side by side – something we believe is totally unique.  ITB Berlin is also a great chance to continue a very special partnership that has already seen us working together with the European Travel Commission on our “Thermal Travels” campaign, with UNWTO for the Thermal Congress and on other press and tourism initiatives over the past few years.  We are looking forward to being together on the stand in person for the first time since our inscription, and to being present with our Chair Mr Stefan Szirucsek, the Mayor of one of our co-exhibitor and sponsor towns, Baden bei Wien.”

Simone Zagrodnik added “As partners at ITB, the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns and the Great Spa Towns of Europe are presenting joint branding, from the stand design to contact cards to a brand-new joint Tourism Packages brochure, which will be presented at ITB for the first time, to inspire tour operators and travel writers to consider our spa towns as the perfect destinations for post-pandemic travel.  As an Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, and having recently presented a major international conference on “Thermal Tourism” with the UNWTO, we also welcome the opportunity to connect health and sports tourism, and to show that our destinations, which in some cases have been connected to certain sports since they were invented, and which treat world-class athletes in their thermal spas and clinics have the perfect infrastructure for high-end sports tourism.”

– ENDS –


European Route of Historic Thermal Towns/European Historic Thermal Towns Association

Simone Zagrodnik, Executive Director


Great Spa Towns of Europe:

Chiara Ronchini, Secretary General





EHTTA/GSTE Programme at ITB

Tuesday 7th March

14.00     “Health Tourism – A true 365 product for Mediterranean Countries?”  Panel with Ivana Kolar (365 Turizam conference), Markos Danas (H.A.M.T.S. Greece) and Marta Luque (Caldes de Montbui).

Wednesday 8th March

10.00     “The Bathrobe Addicts” – Marion Vansingle, Route des Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central

12.30     “Promoting Thermal Towns as a Transnational European Product” – Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA

Thursday 9th March

11.30     “The world’s most complicated World Heritage Site? Communicating the Great Spa Towns of Europe” – Catherine Lloyd, Great Spa Towns of Europe

15.00     UNWTO Roundtable discussion: “Connecting Sports Tourism to Health”.  EHTTA will be represented by Simone Zagrodnik in ITB Convention Hall 3.1


European Thermal Heritage Day 2023 in Mondariz-Balneario

In its January meeting, the Executive Council of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association has decided to hold the next “European Thermal Heritage Day” in Mondariz-Balneario in Galicia, Spain. The annual event was established by EHTTA’s Scientific Committee in 2018 as a celebration of European thermal heritage and an opportunity to raise awareness of the subject that is at the heart of the Association and its objectives. It is regarded as an example of best practices among the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and won their Best Practices Award in 2019 for the concept.

“This year, 2023, the Declaration of Public Utility of mineral waters of Mondariz turns 150 years and we take this anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate the thermal heritage of the town and region,” explains Mario Crecente, President of the Scientific Committee of EHTTA, the reasons favouring Mondariz-Balneario as location, where the event will take place on Wednesday, 11th October 2023. 

“We are very much looking forward to hosting the European Thermal Heritage Day 2023,” says Mayor José Antonio Lorenzo Rodríguez of Mondariz-Balneario. “Besides the expert presentations and discussions we will give everyone the opportunity to visit the town and see the great thermal heritage. Being a member of EHTTA and with it a member of a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe brings this great opportunity to share our heritage and the beauty of this place.”

As President of EHTTA, the President of the neighbouring Province of Ourense, Manuel Baltar, welcomes the decision to have another important event held in Galicia this year. “It will foster the communication about the importance of thermal heritage and thermal tourism in this part of Europe, giving leading examples,” he comments. 

Background: History related to thermal waters

The historical origin of Mondariz Balneario is related to the value of its thermal waters. There is evidence of human occupation in the surroundings of Mondariz Balneario since prehistoric times. Archaeological remains from Iron-Age settlements and a wide collection of Roman amphora’s, coins, vessels and an old road in the vicinity of the spa have been discovered, proving the continuous settlement over thousands of years. The real boost to the Thermal Town of Mondariz Balneario was the rediscovery of the hot springs in 1862 and 1870. In 1880, Queen María Cristina gave to Mondariz the title “supplier of the Spanish Royal House” and with it the license to use the royal coat of arms. The success of this new-found impetus generated the construction of the “Gran Hotel”, designed by Jenaro de la Fuente and opened in 1898.

In the 1990s began a restoration phase of important buildings and sites, followed by the opening of the new spa hotel, the congress centre and the recovering of the Gran Hotel building. During the last three decades the process of recovery and repair of the thermal and cultural environment has brought back the splendour of old times, which the town has been famous for. 

More information about the European Thermal Heritage Day 2023 and the programme will be published in due time at


CLICK HERE to download the full press release


European heritage and financial experts visited endangered Neptune Baths building and met relevant stakeholders in Bucharest

In the framework of the implementation of the 7 Most Endangered Programme, run by Europa Nostra in partnership with the European Investment Bank Institute, a team of experts met representatives of relevant Romanian national institutions in Bucharest with the aim to offer expert assistance with the recovery of the endangered Neptune Baths building in the thermal town of Băile Herculane. The expert mission was led by Constantin Christofidis from the European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute and Mario Crecente, President of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) Scientific Committee, and took place from 31 January to 2 February 2023.

The delegation included Laurent Levi-Strauss, Board member of Europa Nostra, who for personal emergencies had to cancel his trip to Romania at the very last moment but contributed online to the mission. In Romania, the delegation had the support of Oana Chirila, President of Locus Association, which nominated the Neptune Baths to the 7 Most Endangered programme 2022.

On 31 January, the expert team met with Oana Zaharia, General Manager of the National Institute of Heritage and her team; EIB Jaspers Programme managers at the European Investment Bank office in Bucharest; Csilla Hegedus, Secretary of State and representatives of the Romanian Ministry of Investments and European Projects.

On 1 February, the delegation visited the Neptune Baths to examine first-hand the state of the building and its surroundings and to evaluate the risks that affect it. On 2 February, the delegation had talks with Dan Buru, Cultural Inspector and other representatives of the Municipality of Băile Herculane, and Luminita Munteanu, Chief Architect, Caraş Severin County.

The need for urgent action to save it justifies the decision by Europa Nostra, with the support of EHTTA, to put this historic thermal site on the list of the 7 Most Endangered monuments and heritage sites in Europe for 2022. By saving the Neptune Baths, which form the central piece of the thermal urban ensemble of the historical town of Baile Herculane, this Romanian city will recuperate its past splendour and ensure its prosperous future through the use of its cultural heritage as a source of sustainable social and economic development.

The recent approval of Baile Herculane as EHTTA member, which will be confirmed at the next General Assembly of this European network in May 2023 in Baden bei Wien (Austria), will help to further enhance the importance of this site, among others through its participation in the European Cultural Route, and through EHTTA’s role as Affiliate Member of the UNWTO.

The delegation is preparing the mission report which will be submitted to the nominator and all relevant national, regional and local authorities in Romania.

CLICK HERE to download the full press release

Four pictures of EHTTA's new members

EHTTA welcomes new members and celebrates a new international partner

Download the full press release in English here

Good news from the European Historic Thermal Towns Association: the association, certified as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe has grown to 52 members in 20 countries! To be precise, it now has 50 members in 18 Council of Europe countries plus two International Partners from countries outside Europe.

During its Executive Council meeting last week, the applications of four thermal towns, regions and associations were accepted: the Romanian historic thermal town Baile Herculane extends the list of member towns and even adds the 18th country in Europe to the map.  The Catalan Thermal Towns Association and Métropole Grand Nancy have also been accepted as new members.

Baile Herculane is a significant historic thermal town and we very much appreciate the efforts they have made to join EHTTA, as they seek serious support for the rescue of their thermal heritage which is at risk.  The Neptune Baths in Baile Herculane was one of Europa Nostra’s seven most endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2022 and we are very glad to be able to further promote and help their project.” said Mario Crecente, EHTTA’s Scientific Committee President.

In May 2022 several members of the Catalan Thermal Towns Association impressed the audience of the “Café of Europe” in Caldes de Montbui with their thermal waters and cultural heritage.  EHTTA welcomed their application to join as an Associate Member, and to add some fascinating Catalan thermal towns to the Iberian section of our map. 

The city of Nancy in France looks back on a long tradition of spa culture in its thermal establishments and has lately made impressive investments to develop exciting modern thermal facilities. The inclusion of the Greater Region of Nancy as an EHTTA Associate Members follows the earlier decision to hold the next International Congress on Thermal Tourism there from 8th – 10th November 2023.  

The growing international reputation of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association has led to further extension overseas. As a new International Partner, the Saratoga Spa State Park in the State of New York joins as a significant example of a (European model) spa town in the USA. Already its “therapeutic spa landscape” has been the subject of case studies and presentations by EHTTA, and its Director, Alane Ball Chinian was recently appointed as EHTTA’s first “Ambassador of Thermal Tourism”.

According to EHTTA President Manuel Baltar from Ourense Province this new relationship is very important for the association’s goal to reach out to North America.

“As a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, we are not only keen to promote ourselves as tourist destinations, but have an important task of educating people in the broadest sense, about European culture and heritage. Our historic Thermal towns have a unique package for visitors, with their combination of wellness, health, history and culture, and from our recent campaigns we know that this package is attractive to European and American audiences.”

He continued. “With the addition of new members in Europe and even in the USA, we are able to develop our profile even further, and to give visibility to our historic thermal towns, whether they are large cities such as Nancy or small thermal villages such as the various Catalan towns in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  We are keen to advocate for towns such as Baile Herculane with important but abandoned heritage and to make connections with towns based on our European model, such as Saratoga Springs.  We are looking forward to another successful year in 2023, and the addition of these wonderfully varied members with their different stories and backgrounds is a great start to the year.”

– ENDS –

For further information please contact:
Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director:           

A pool with green water, steps and a domed roof at Nancy Thermal Centre

EHTTA announces 2023 Thermal Congress in Nancy, France

Download the full press release in English here

EHTTA announces next International Congress on Thermal Tourism

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association is delighted to announce its next important event, when the Association will be working with the UNWTO as part of its 2023 work package. The International Congress on Thermal Tourism will be held in the French town of Nancy, and will be linked to the annual ‘International days of Thermalism and Wellness’ taking place from 8th to 10th November 2023 at the same time.

The host city of Nancy is opening a new thermal complex in spring 2023, after a 100 million Euro programme of investment. The long-awaited “Nancy Thermal”, based on a 1910s complex in the heart of the Ducal city, also known for the Place Stanislas, a UNESO World Heritage Site, provides the organisers with a good reason to welcome international delegates to a thermal congress. The Nancy metropolitan area, located in the heart of the Grand Est Region, is the most European of France’s regions bordering 4 countries, and is a great choice for the next congress location. It is hoped that the Thermal Congress will become an annual event.

In September 2022 “The Thermal Congress”, as it became known, was hosted by the Province of Ourense (Galicia) attracting 277 delegates and speakers from 22 countries and catching the attention of a wide range of international media.
“For us it is very important to keep the positive spirit and continue the discussion started in Ourense this year.”, said Manuel Baltar, EHTTA President. “We have demonstrated that this is a subject that is becoming increasingly important to wellness and health tourists, and as a sector, we need to be ready to welcome them. Sharing best practice, discussing new trends, improving our offer is essential if our historic thermal towns are to compete with purpose-built destinations. We know that we have a very attractive and unique combination of wellness, heritage, landscape, gastronomy and architecture in our towns, but we cannot be complacent, so meeting together as a sector, more regularly is going to be very important as we move into and era of mindful post-pandemic, environmentally sustainable travel”.
The European Historic Thermal Towns Association is an Affiliate Member of UNWTO, and significantly is the only Cultural Route of the Council of Europe to be associated with UNWTO.
Jean-François Beraud, President of the Fédération Thermale et Climatique Française, which organised the French Days of Thermalism commented: “We are very pleased to be hosting the 2023 International Congress on Thermalism and Wellness in Nancy. The French thermalism sector meets regularly to discuss important issues, and we are glad to have the opportunity to share our experiences and knowledge with a wider audience outside France and of course to learn from others too. We are delighted to see the new complex in Nancy opening this year and hope to see a great audience there in November.”

Looking forward to the event is also Ion Vilcu, Director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Department:

“We are very happy to be supporting our Affiliate Member EHTTA to raise awareness about the many benefits of thermal tourism. Nancy is a great destination to keep building on the knowledge and experiences already discussed during the latest congress in Ourense. We look forward to meeting in Nancy and further explore how thermalism can be developed in other destinations.”

More details about the 2023 International Thermal Congress in Nancy (France) can soon be found here:

– ENDS –

#thermalcongress23 #thermaltourism #nancythermal #thermaltravels #historicthermaltowns

Download the full press release in English here.

For further information please contact:

Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director:           

Notes to Editors:

1.     EHTTA is a membership organisation representing nearly 50 members in 17

2.     EHTTA was certified as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe in 2010 and is one of 48 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe which provide a wealth of leisure and educational activities for all citizens across Europe and beyond and are key resources for responsible tourism and sustainable development. The certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” is a guarantee of excellence.  

3.      EHTTA was founded in 2009 with six Founding Members: Acqui Terme (Italy), Bath (UK), Ourense (Spain), Salsomaggiore Terme (Italy), Spa (Belgium) and Vichy (France).