Great Spa Towns of Europe

Spa and Hot Springs of Bath

The spa and hot springs of Bath are traditionally associated with the Romans. It is true that the Romans developed the baths and built a massive complex, with temples and administrative buildings, around them. However the site dates back to the Celtic period, and the baths have been in used almost continuously since the Romans left. The spa was revitalised in the 18th century and appears on the novels of Jane Austen. Tod ...
Founded: Celtic | Location: Bath, United Kingdom

Spa

Spa is a Belgian town located in Liège Province, and the town where the term spa originates. Spa is one of Belgium"s most popular tourist destinations, being renowned for its natural mineral springs and production of 'Spa' mineral water, which is exported worldwide. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spas of Europe'. As the site ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Spa, Belgium

Karlovy Vary Spa Town

Karlovy Vary lies on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá. It is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia, who founded the city. Karlovy Vary is the site of numerous hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River), and is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic. In 2021, the city became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Bad Kissingen Spa Town

Bad Kissingen is a German spa town in the Bavarian region. Situated to the south of the Rhön Mountains on the Franconian Saale river, it is one of the health resorts, which became famous as a 'Weltbad' in the 19th century. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spa Towns of Europe'. The town was first documented in the year 801 and was renowned above all for i ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Bad Kissingen, Germany

Vichy Spa Town

Vichy is a city in the Allier department of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in central France, in the historic province of Bourbonnais. It is a spa and resort town and in World War II was the seat of government of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. The term Vichyste indicated collaboration with the Vichy regime, often carrying a pejorative connotation. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World H ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Vichy, France

Baden Spa Town

Baden bei Wien is a spa town in Austria. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spas of Europe'. The celebrity of Baden dates back to the days of the Romans, some ruins are still visible. The nearby abbey of Heiligenkreuz's Romanesque church was constructed in the 11th century; it subsequently served as the burial place for members of the Babenberg family. The ...
Founded: Roman Age | Location: Baden, Austria

Baden-Baden Spa Town

Baden-Baden is a spa town in the state of Baden-Württemberg. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spa Towns of Europe'. The springs at Baden-Baden were known to the Romans as Aquae ('The Waters') and Aurelia Aquensis ('Aurelia-of-the-Waters'). The known ruins of the Roman bath were rediscovered just below the New Castle in 1 ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Baden-Baden, Germany

Montecatini Terme

Montecatini Terme is an Italian municipality in Tuscany. The town is located at the eastern end of Piana di Lucca and has a strong vocation for tourism, as well as industrial and commercial industries related to the spa, which in turn has increased the interest for hotel accommodation in the region. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spa Towns of Europe ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Montecatini Terme, Italy

Frantiskovy Lazne Spa Town

Františkovy Lázně is a spa town in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. Together with neighbouring Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně, it is part of the renowned West Bohemian Spa Triangle. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spa Towns of Europe'. The salutary effects of the surrounding springs were known from the late 14th century o ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Františkovy Lázně, Czech Republic

Mariánské Lázne Spa Town

Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad for German) is a spa town in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. The town, surrounded by green mountains, is a mosaic of parks and noble houses. Most of its buildings come from the town's Golden Era in the second half of the 19th century, when many celebrities and top European rulers came to enjoy the curative carbon dioxide springs. In 2021, the town became part of the transnati ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic

Bad Ems Spa Town

Bad Ems is a town in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Rhein-Lahn rural district and is well known as a spa on the river Lahn. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spas of Europe'. The town was first mentioned in official documents in 880 and received its town charter in 1324. The Counts of Nassau and Katzenelnbogen rebu ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bad Ems, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.