The Great Spa Towns of Europe are a UNESCO World Heritage Site

24. July 2021   Zpět

Today, at its 44th session, in Fuzhou, (China), the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee decided to inscribe the Great Spa Towns of Europe on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The nomination was prepared jointly by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Czech Republic which managed and coordinated the entire project. This new transnational serial World Heritage Site is composed of the most significant spas in Europe: Baden bei Wien in Austria, Spa in Belgium, Vichy in France, Baden-Baden, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen in Germany, Montecatini Terme in Italy, Bath in the UK, and Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně in the Czech Republic.

The Great Spa Towns of Europe, which were founded around natural mineral springs, together provide an exceptional testimony to the phenomenon of European balneology which reached its heyday between the 18th century and the early decades of the 20th century. A characteristic feature of this phenomenon is the combination of indoor and outdoor spa and therapeutic facilities with a wide range of leisure activities, reflected in a specific form of spa towns and their associated architecture. Ensembles of spa buildings including bathhouses, pump rooms, drinking halls and colonnades are complemented by assembly rooms, casinos, theatres and other cultural facilities, all integrated into a carefully maintained therapeutic landscape with mineral springs, parks, gardens, promenades and sports grounds. The surrounding landscape is used for physical activities as part of medical therapy, relaxation and entertainment. The spa towns were the only places in Europe that culturally rivalled major metropolises and became a source of intellectual, artistic, social and political inspiration, thus contributing to the democratization of European society.

The inscription on the World Heritage List will bring to the Great Spa Towns of Europe not only confirmation of their exceptional values, but also better protection and enhanced cooperation in the fields of heritage conservation, balneology/health, tourism and promotion. This responsibility is a major commitment of the participating States Parties and municipal authorities, all of which recognise the importance of sustainable protection and presentation of this World Heritage Site and its preservation for future generations.

Lubomír Zaorálek, the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic said “The Great Spa Towns of Europe project is an excellent example of international cooperation between ministries and institutions, experts and representatives of municipalities in seven European countries. I greatly appreciate the support of the Mayors of the towns involved who have tirelessly supported this project and provided financial resources over the extensive period of its demanding preparation. At the same time, I am proud that the Czech Republic was chosen as the coordinator of the entire project and, as a leader of the European countries involved,  brought it to a successful inscription”.