The Great Spas of Europe are heading for the World Heritage List

04. June 2021   Zpět

The 44th session of the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee, which will take place in Fuzhou (China) from 16 to 31 July 2021, will decide, on the inscription of The Great Spas of Europe - that includes Františkovy Lázně, Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

An important step towards successful inscription can be seen in a document which was released on the 4th of June by ICOMOS, the Advisory body of the World Heritage Committee, in which ICOMOS recommends that The Great Spas of Europe be inscribed on the World Heritage List. ICOMOS has confirmed that The Great Spas of Europe bear an exceptional testimony to the European spa phenomenon, which gained its highest expression from around 1700 to the 1930s.

 “We are extremely pleased by this positive recommendation which clearly shows the potential of the Great Spas of Europe to become World Heritage,” Jan Kuchař, Mayor of Františkovy Lázně. 

This ambitious nomination highlighting the importance and the outstanding universal values of spa culture and architecture as a specific European phenomenon was jointly prepared by seven participating State Parties – Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Czech Republic – coordinator and guarantor of the entire nomination. It consists of an outstanding group of eleven component spa towns and cities comprising: Baden bei Wien (Austria), Spa (Belgium), Františkovy Lázně, Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně (Czech Republic), Vichy (France), Bad Ems, Bad Kissingen, Baden-Baden (Germany), Montecatini Terme (Italy), and City of Bath (UK).

Their mutual cooperation has been the basis for the preparation and elaboration of a nomination project since 2012, involving many international experts and partners at all levels.

The ICOMOS recommendation is an important basis for the World Heritage Committee's decision on inscription – we can therefore expect that in the second half of July the inscription might be officially confirmed and The Great Spas of Europe will become part of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.

For more information on the nomination file, please visit


Great Spas of Europe Secretariat:

Kontakt:                Paul Simons, Secretary General


                             Phone:  +44 7785 506 338




Notes to Editors :

1.      The Great Spas of Europe is a ‘Transnational Serial’ nomination, where 11 famous historic thermal spa towns and cities in seven countries are hoping to be inscribed on the World Heritage List at the forthcoming (44th) World Heritage Committee meeting in China between 24th and 28th July 2021.  The Great Spas, in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom represent a unique cultural phenomenon 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 Europe.

2.      What’s it all about? 

Inscription on the World Heritage List is the highest international recognition for global cultural and natural heritage sites. It is managed by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) on behalf of the United Nations from its headquarters in Paris.


3.      What’s a “serial transnational nomination”? 

The eleven spa towns in this nomination form a series which have been carefully selected from the many hundreds of thermal spa towns  across Europe. Collectively they best illustrate the many attributes of a Great Spa town and are found across seven different countries therefore the nomination is ‘transnational’ by nature. UNESCO welcome such examples of cross-border cooperation.   


4.      How can 11 towns in 7 countries really be ONE World Heritage Site? 

Each World Heritage Site meets one or more of UNESCO’s stated criteria. To prove this each property has to produce a statement of Outstanding Universal Value in which it argues and justifies how it meets the criteria. The Great Spas embody the most internationally famous spa towns of the 18th and 19th centuries which transformed the health and leisure business and created Europe’s first tourist resorts. No one spa town can illustrate all the attributes of a Great Spa by itself, but together all of them meet all the criteria, and therefore a serial approach represents the most appropriate methodology.


5.    What happens next?

Between the 24th and 28th July 2021 the Extended 44th World Heritage Committee will take place online when the nomination of the Great Spas of Europe will be considered. The recommendation to go before the WHC will be released at the beginning of June 2021. At that point the GSE will receive its first indication as to the nature of the recommendation before the Committee.  


6.      What makes these towns so special?

There remain over 400 working spa towns across Europe and those selected are the crème de la crème of Europe’s best. The eleven Great Spas architectural ensembles, parks, gardens and landscapes maintained to the highest standards.  They also maintain a wide range of outstanding cultural activities, welcome an international clientele and provide a continuing living tradition of leisure, health and well-being.


7.      Why are you going for World Heritage status?

World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. It represents the highest global designation for heritage and these sites, of which there are currently 1,121 globally (as at WHC 43 2019), require the highest standards of conservation and protection for the generations to come.     


8.      What will it mean in practice to be a “Great Spa of Europe”? ie what is the added benefit of being in this club?

To be a partner in a new and unique European project with such a strong brand will bring benefit to destination management and promotion. Cooperation through the Great Spas Management Board will develop a new identity that will support cultural programmes, exchange, youth projects, conservation, regeneration, investment and education in each spa town. The collective impact of this will be far greater than any one spa town could achieve on its own behalf.  Being a “Great Spa of Europe” also brings responsibilities in terms of protecting the spa town heritage and setting, keeping it safe for future generations.


9.      What difference does it make to my town/region/country?

Wider media exposure will result in a destination becoming better known. Greater investment in the Great Spas will lead to job creation and a diversity of opportunity. Sustainable tourism strategies will lead to long-term benefits and investment in the local economy. This will have a knock-on effect in education, enhanced environmental protection, improvements in the quality of life and a rise in property values. These benefits should be retained locally as far as it is possible.  Smaller spa towns throughout Europe should also benefit from increased interest of the European spa town phenomenon, and the benefits of this nomination could be felt in other communities outside the bid.


10.   Will WHS status protect the cities?

World Heritage status is only granted to those places that guarantee to protect and preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of the place – so protection is an integral part of the process. This is provided through the Property Management Plan that is reviewed and submitted to UNESCO every six years. It is based on regular monitoring and the preparation of State of Conservation reporting. World Heritage Sites require an enhanced level of management compared to other heritage designated sites.   


11.   How can our readers/listeners/viewers/followers visit and what will they find there?

All Great Spas are easily accessible and offer a wide range of quality accommodation. Cultural activities and heritage attractions compliment the health and leisure treatments traditionally associated with spa towns. Local gastronomy and wine present a distinctive feature of each spa along with more contemporary well-being programmes. Rural pursuits, walking and cycling in the surrounding pristine therapeutic landscapes awaits all visitors.