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       The Thermes
  The European route of thermal heritage  
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The ‘Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe’ recognized the route in May 2010

Several thermal towns now allow a discovery of their roots in European history, both old, and new, with a particular reference to memory, history and landscape. Many of these historical towns, characterized by the presence of the available natural and cultural resources, are partly rooted in the progress of science and positive climate and partly in the search for a return of the philosophical nature. In Europe, in most cases, these new entities have allowed the development of leaders, which are part of a civil action program of the construction of thermal complexes. These thermal entities have become urban expressions of the rise and decadence of the bourgeoisie, as well as the modern embrace - New art: le Jugendstil and le style Liberty.

The most famous sites were born during the 19th Century and new medical practices linked to the waters developed along with new architectural styles. At present thermalism is again on the move: to the traditional hydrotherapeutic treatments new “Wellness centres” are added. Thermalism is also recognized as a practice which boosts the return to a healthier way of life where knowledge and safeguard of architectural and natural heritage contribute to a better quality of life.

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Vichy, France.
Photo provided by the city of Acqui Terme

Tourism, culture, health and well-being.

Bath, United Kingdom
Photo provided by the city of Acqui Terme

This route has been turned particularly towards tourism with the idea of validating thermal urban European heritage: tourism, culture, health and well-being are the four fundamental concepts driven by this cultural route.

The European Thermal Route is supported by the European network the “European Historical Thermal Town Association” (EHTTA). It gathers eight countries: Belgium (Spa), Italy (Acqui Terme, Salsomaggiore Terme and Bagni di Lucca) Czech Republic (Karlovy Vary Region), France (Vichy), Portugal (Chaves), Romania (Techirghiol), Spain (Ourense) and United Kingdom (Bath).

The network is seeking at the promotion and safeguard of the thermal cultural heritage in its variety and at the development of a “spa culture” based both on traditional health treatments both on wellness. It also aims at finding a new strategy to increase cultural tourism in spa towns.

The recovery of a historical and cultural identity, as well as the validation of a thermal heritage represents the key in historical reading, starting in particular with the new generation of the local population to discover the culture of the baths. The European historical thermal town association (EHTTA) is in charge to the cultural route and is implicated in the realization of certain aims:

  • To show unique urban personalities of the towns by drawing on their common points: a thermal culture, which, in all its variety and local characteristic differences can truly be called European;
  • To encourage the integrated development in thermal towns and to preserve their cultural and architectural heritage, in return for experiences at a European level;
  • To promote the network, in close collaboration with the European institutions and with the support of European programs;
  • To encourage the research development, analysis, studies and statistics in the thermal sector, in particular history, artistic and cultural heritage;
  • To create a new development strategy for the thermal sector which will take into account the potential for culture and tourists, contributing to the economy of the culture and the aim to achieve the objective of the Lisbon strategy;

Mariànské Làzne, Czech Republic
Mariànské Làzne.
Photo provided by the city of Acqui Terme


Salsomaggiore, Italy
Photo provided by the city of Acqui Terme

Most of these linked towns have been implicated through the project ‘Thermae Europae’ initiated by the Karlovy Vary town in the frame of the culture program 2000, which finished in 2009. a network was then created, composed of the oldest thermal stations in Europe, including 11 countries and 15 towns. The project has identified new ways to manage tourists in a new cultural tourist approach and has defined a common move towards the restoration and preservation of the thermal architectural heritage.

While seeking to achieve its major objective, the Cultural Route network will pursues the following aims:

  • To encourage the integrated development of spa towns and safeguard their cultural and architectural heritage, by exchanging experiences and good practices at European level, promoting the European identity in its unity and its diversity.
  • The commissioning, at the level of the European Union, of legislations, policies, inventories specifically covering the protection of the architectural spa heritage, as well as awareness campaigns, through projects, talks, networks, on the possibilities offered by legislation, policies and existing resources at European, national and/or regional level, on the subject of the protection, safeguard, restoration and promotion of the architecture and artistic heritage of spa towns. As regards inventories, a European inventory, organized per country, should be created and made easily accessible online.
  • To build and promote a European Thermal Touristic product which could be commercialized at international level (American, Asiatic, Australian touristic market) thus implementing tourism and the economic development for European Thermal cities and regions.

Countries included: Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Germany, Bulgaria, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden, Romania.

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 Website of the EHTTA
 media library
 Inventaire du Patrimoine Thermal
 Thermal baths
 Villes d’Eaux du Massif Central
 Actes colloque Patrimoine Thermal
 original Spa Waters of Belgium
 Spa surroundings Coeur Forêt forest
 Thermae Europae
 Thermae Europae Safeguarding
 Le patrimoine de Spa


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