ETHD 2023 & Mondariz-Balneario 150th anniversary

The European Thermal Heritage Day 2023 completes a series of three expert forums focusing on the theme “Therapeutic Landscapes” of thermal towns and specific historic developments regarding urban architecture and parks and gardens, for example. As such they served as example for the development of a spa town like Saratoga Springs in New York, USA, which has been and will again be presented on the occasion of the event.

This year, the Declaration of Public Utility of mineral waters of Mondariz turns 150 years and the municipality takes this anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate the thermal heritage of the town and region during three days from 11th to 13th October 2023 with an extended programme for experts and the public.

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. This led to the establishment of the bottling plant and the construction of the Gran Hotel for example. All the services that were generated thanks to this thermal development resulted in a significant urban and administrative transformation of the aspirations of the local community. Mondariz Balneario replaced in a short period of time its rural past with the works of some of the best architects of the period. As a result, health, leisure and meeting places were created to receive the visits of major personalities in the fields of Arts, Sciences and Politics.

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.

The Therapeutic (Spa) Landscape

Each spa town relies on its natural setting and the surrounding landscape which has been used and managed as a part of the ‘spa offer’ or attractiveness of the place since the 16th century, in other words the ‘therapeutic’ or spa landscape which is unique to spa towns. This has led to a specific historic urban landscape of transition which moves from the formal gardens in the centre of the spa town, formed around the principal public buildings to the wider ‘English’ style parkland of trees, shrubs and lawns, to the meadows and walks beyond leading into the hills and ‘wild’ landscape setting of the spa town.

The ‘natural’ landscape surrounding the spa towns is often less “natural” than it might appear, as it is a deliberately managed and planted forest to create the concept of ‘wilderness’ with prospects, viewpoints and ‘hidden surprises’ and features. This landscape was purposefully developed with health in mind, the development of which became a collaboration between the spa town authorities, private landowners, and the doctors practising in the town who prescribed walking and riding as part of the ‘cure’.


The European Thermal Heritage Day is an annual event 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 practice by the European Institute of Cultural Routes, and won an award in 2019 for the concept.

EHTTA believes that thermal heritage represents a very particular European phenomenon, which includes natural, cultural, and intangible resources. The concept of thermal heritage is used to promote health and wellbeing, to create original tourism destinations, and to protect magnificent cultural landscapes. European Thermal Heritage Day highlights the importance of thermal heritage as a centuries-old Europe-wide tradition, and to gain recognition and awareness of issues that affect the future of this valuable heritage.

In a series of three events, the European Thermal Heritage Day is looking at the development of the “Therapeutic (Spa) Landscape” in the years 2021-2023. After “Thermal Urbanism” in 2021 hosted by Wiesbaden (Germany), the subject in 2022 was “Parks and Gardens” with impressive support from Lądek-Zdrój in Poland.

For this year 2023 the EHTTA member town Mondariz-Balneario has been chosen to be the host of the event. This small thermal town in Galicia in Spain celebrates its 150th anniversary.


4th November at 10.00 CET (ONLINE)

Click here to join the event: Link to ZOOM

Moderated by Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director


EHTTA President Manuel Baltar

Welcome by the host
Roman Kaczmarzyk, Mayor of Lądek-Zdrój





EHTTA Update

Simone Zagrodnik, EHTTA Executive Director 

The Parks and Gardens in Lądek-Zdrój

Grzegorz Szczygiel


Thermal Parks and Gardens in European historic thermal towns
Mario Crecente, President of EHTTA Scientific Committee


Revival of the thermal heart of Vichy: Restoration of the Parc des Sources and renovation of its surroundings – Dominique Scherer, Director of Green Spaces for the City of Vichy and project manager of the Parc des Sources restoration project / Anke Matthys, Vichy local coordinator of the Great Spa Towns of Europe


Bath and North East Somerset Council: Sydney Pleasure Gardens restoration project – Keith Rowe, Parks & Greenspaces Team Manager.


 “Spacious parks and magnificent gardens on every side” – Walter S. McClellan’s 1930s journey to European Spas and his observations on the spa park.
Dr. Oliver Sukrow, TU Wien / ICOMOS Austria


Q & A – Discussion


In 2020, European Thermal Heritage Day was hosted by Baden-Baden in Germany, and examined the subject of Thermal Architecture in all its forms.

The thermal architecture of our spa towns includes magnificent bathing temples and imposing pump rooms or trinkhalle, as well as residential villas and buildings designed for leisure and entertainment, such as casinos, assembly rooms, theatres, concert halls and art galleries, all set around formal parks and gardens and within a wider “therapeutic landscape”.

As one of the “Great Spas of Europe”, where the urban form of thermal towns has been studied in great depth, and with some magnificent examples of thermal architecture for delegates to visit, Baden-Baden was the perfect virtual location for the 2020 European Thermal Heritage Day.

The whole event can be seen here. The 2020 programme and speakers, can be found here.


In 2019 in Spa, in Belgium, the focus was on the word “Spa” as a ‘concept that needs to be redefined’ – Spa gave it’s name to the world, but now finds that the word has been devalued by numerous “spas” that have nothing to do with the use of healing mineral waters – waters which are at the centre of EHTTA’s towns.

Find out more about the day from the speakers and audience here


In 2018, the first European Thermal Heritage Day was held on the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Hotel Gellert in Budapest, and was a study of “Thermal Tourism and Spa Heritage in Europe”.

EHTTA was delighted to welcome the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport to this inaugural event, Mr Tibor Navracsics, who is pictured here, third from the right, with (L-R) Mario Crecente, Vice President of the EHTTA Scientific Committee, László Szőke, CEO of Budapest Spas, Gábor Bagdy, First Vice Mayor of Budapest, Manuel Baltar and Bernard Kajdan, Vice Presidents of EHTTA, and Paul Simons President of EHTTA’s Scientific Committee. (Positions and titles as in 2018)