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 of cold springs with alleged healing properties, Spa has been frequented as a watering-place since the 14th century. It is the town of Spa which has become eponymous with any place having a natural water source that is believed to possess special health-giving properties, known as a spa. The Spa town grew at that time, in the oldest iron and steel centre of Liège Province. The ban Spa was created around 1335 and included two urban concentrations, vilhe of Creppe and vilhe Spas, 2 kilometres away. Prior to the exploitation of mineral water, the steel industry developed communication lines, which made it possible to develop the spa town.
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.