Great Spa Towns of Europe
Eleven towns, seven countries, one remarkable site
The Great Spa Towns of Europe were inscribed on the World Heritage List as a “transnational serial” World Heritage Site by UNESCO at the Extended 44th World Heritage committee meeting in Fuzhou, China, on 24th July last year. The site is transnational because it spans 7 countries, and serial, because eleven incredible spa towns form this one amazing site.
The towns were inscribed because they tell the story of the European spa phenomenon – something that has been developing over centuries, and in some cases since Roman times. They all have examples of spa architecture which are buildings that house the mineral and thermal springs on which the towns were founded. In all of the Great Spa Towns you will find extensive parks and gardens and a superb “therapeutic spa landscape” where exercise along networks of specially built pathways was prescribed as part of the cure.
These were the places to see and be seen, and in the early days royalty and nobility patronised the Great Spa Towns of Europe, often investing in the spa infrastructure. They were places where great composers, authors and artists, and later scientists congregated and produced some of their most famous work. With the coming of the railways, they also became popular with the growing middle classes and developed hotels, meeting places and “diversions” where large numbers of people could be housed and entertained for the duration of their cure. Grand villas, religious buildings of all denominations and cultural facilities to rival any capital city are also a feature of all of the Towns.
The ‘Great Spa Towns’, in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom represent a unique cultural achievement which reached its height in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a particular urban type and form which deserves global recognition as a phenomenon which helped to shape the Europe we know today.
The Great Spa Towns of Europe are all part of the EHTTA network, and together we are working to promote these incredible places as historic, cultural, health and wellness destinations.
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