Spa holidays are extremely popular nowadays, but the Spanish ¨Spas¨ already date back in time for more than 2000 years! The healing properties of thermal water are known for centuries and have since been used to treat medical problems. In our part of the world there is a renewed interest for this form of wellness and it is certainly no longer seen as for elderly only! Spain has a wealth of thermal springs and their corresponding authentic beautiful spas that are called ¨Balnearios¨.
The history of water, which was used for therapeutic purposes, dates back to the days of the cavemen. Injured or sick animals that drank from wells with warm water, healed and became stronger. This was the beginning of the development of a therapeutic technique which nowadays is still applied.
The first medicinal applications of water were made in the Greek period. In this era the first ¨health resorts¨ opened their doors. They were then used as pilgrimage for patients who were treated by priests who applied different types of hydrotherapy techniques. Faith was the source of healing!
Hippocrates was the first who did not relate healing with faith. He considered illness as an imbalance in the body. This balance could be restored with the help of water, healthy life, light, food, massage and mental peace. Hippocrates considered hydrotherapy as a therapeutic method, where thermal water and seawater are used to heal skin diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory problems, pain, etc.
The first ¨Balnearios¨ (from the Latin balnearĭus) originated in Spain in Roman times. This period was characterized by the development of public baths, with extraordinary architectural structures, in most large cities,. Like the Roman Empire, the spa culture has spread across Europe and reached Galicia, where the Romans discovered a paradise of thermal springs.
Also from the south of Spain public baths were emerging. Hydrotherapy was a prestigious affair for the Islam. Mohammed attached great importance to hygiene and body care through the use of water. With the rise of the Arab culture in the south of Spain many Arab baths emerged in this period.
During the centuries that followed hydrotherapy increased in popularity and throughout Spain many Balnearios emerged. Spain is a country, which is extremely rich in thermal springs.
The country has about 2,000 registered thermal springs, all in a beautiful natural setting. Mineral resources are located in places where there is an abundance of natural mineral springs from deep underground springs. Mineral springs where the water with a temperature of at least 5 ° C higher than the ground rises from underground, are called thermal springs. This thermal water is known for its healing powers. Particularly in the provinces of Galicia and Catalonia can be found many thermal springs and the associated Balnearios.
The period of great splendor of the Balnearios began in the late 1800s. Hydrotherapy and Balnearios received a prestigious status. At the beginning of the 20th century, the European royalty and the ruling elite often chose for the “Spanish waters” to include a resort in Mondariz (Galicia), one of the legendary Spanish spas with the same status as Evian and Baden Baden. The architecture of many Balnearios from this period is characterized by elegance and glamour and they are mostly built in the then popular Art Nouveau style.
In the years since 1990, many of the Balnearios have undergone renovation. The installations have been modernized and many of the elegant fin-de-sècle gems are now equipped with state-of-the-art technology and offer the latest in spa treatments and wellness programs in addition to their healing mineral-rich baths.
Hydrotherapy and thermal spas are back in fashion! The lifestyle of people in the 21st century is stressful, they have a huge workload, and the pace of modern life are making more and more people look for peace and return to nature. Natural cures win from the pharmaceutical industry and so we return to the old values of Hippocrates. This development contributes significantly to the increase of so-called medical tourism.
In almost every corner of Spain, some 120 Balnearios again obtained the title “sanctuary of the healing water”! Our favorites at a glance:
Catalonië · Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort – 19th century modernist gem surrounded by the beautiful villas of La Garriga. This is one of the largest Balneario Spa & Wellness Centre of Spain.
Soria – El Burgo de Osma Thermal Hotel – located in the University of Santa Catalina, which dates from the Renaissance, which has been transformed into a magical place with facilities of the highest quality.
Zaragoza · Termas Pallarés – legendary resort from 1863 where royalty, politicians, artists and writers came to and where you can see, feel and smell the fabulous memories of a vibrant past.