The European historical thermal towns

Friday, 12 October 2018

Do you know the European historical thermal towns’ tour? It’s one of the cultural tours promoted by the Council of Europe, a program launched on 1987 to encourage the cultural diversity and richness of the European Countries, through a travel in time and space. Until 2018, European year of cultural heritage, there are 33 European certified cultural tours. These tours cross one or more Countries or regions, and are organized on the basis of historical, artistic or social themes.

The European historical thermal towns are collected in an association called European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA), established in Bruxelles, Belgium, on 10th December 2009: it’s a European network of towns with their own thermal spring water, whose properties are recognized at international level, and an architectural heritage that reflects history, traditions and the environment of its territory. The Council of Europe approved the European historical thermal towns’ tour on 7th May 2010.

One of the European historical thermal towns is Spa, a municipality in Wallonia, Belgium, in the Liège province. It seems that the origin of the namesake term that specifies not only the wellness centers, but also the thermal springs, is due to the Belgian town. The word spa, often written in capital letters (SPA), doesn’t stand, actually, for Sanitas Per Acquas or for Salus Per Aquam (wealth through water), as someone claims somewhere, but derives from the name of the Belgian municipality. The toponym Spa, in turn, derives from the contraction of the term espa, which means fountain in Wallonian.

Please pay attention to not confuse the spas without spring water with the mineral spring establishments themselves. These last ones should be indicated with the expression thermal/mineral springs establishments, used by the Global Wellness Institute among the others.




More than 40 destinations are collected in the European tour of the historical thermal towns. Apart from the already mentioned Spa, we point out:

  • Acqui Terme (Italy)
  • Chianciano Terme (Italy)
  • Montecatini Terme (Italy)
  • Montegrotto Terme (Italy)
  • Salsomaggiore Terme (Italy)
  • Bad Homburg vor der Höhe (Germany)
  • Baden-Baden (Germany)
  • Wiesbaden (Germany)
  • Bagnoles de l’Orne (France)
  • Châtel – Guyon (France)
  • Enghien-les-Bains (France)
  • La Bourboule (France)
  • Le Mont Dore (France)
  • Luchon (France)
  • Royat (France)
  • Chamalières (France)
  • Vichy (France)
  • Bath (United Kingdom; on the cover, the Roman baths of Bath © Visit Bath)
  • Caldas da Rainha (Portugal)
  • São Pedro do Sul (Portugal)
  • Bursa (Turkey)
  • Pamukkale (Turkey)
  • Budapest (Hungary)
  • Mondariz (Spain)
  • Ourense (Spain)
  • La Coruña (Spain)
  • Pontevedra (Spain)
  • Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic)
  • Mariánské Lázně (Czech Republic)
  • Františkovy Lázně (Czech Republic)
  • Jáchymov (Czech Republic)
  • Lázně Kynžvart (Czech Republic)
  • Daruvar (Croatia)
  • Galaalti (Azerbaijan)
  • Tskaltubo (Georgia)
  • Sairme (Georgia)
  • Loutráki (Greece)
  • Krinídhes (Greece)
  • Kavala (Greece)

Before saying goodbye, we want to suggest you some useful sources to learn more about thermal tourism and the most known wellness tourism:

  • the new Global Wellness Economy Monitor developed by the Global Wellness Institute, in particular the chapters dedicated to the wellness tourism, to the spa market and to the mineral spring establishments one
  • the International Spa Association website (ISPA)
  • the European Spas Association website (ESPA)
  • a graduation dissertation named “The thermal tourism between health and wellness. The evolution of an ancient custom and the case of Bath” (Giulia Forace, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Enjoy your work with 6tour!

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