Photo courtesy of Thermes de Spa.
Belgium is known for its charming towns and cities, and there are a few spa towns in the country that are popular for their wellness offerings and mineral-rich springs. One of the most well-known spa towns in Belgium is Spa itself, which is where the term “spa” originated. Here’s more information about Spa:
- Spa is located in the province of Liège in the Wallonia region of Belgium, approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) southeast of Liège city.
- Mineral Springs: The town of Spa is famous for its natural mineral springs, which have been renowned for their therapeutic properties since Roman times. These springs are rich in minerals and are believed to have health benefits.
- Wellness and Spa Facilities: Spa is a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and wellness. Visitors can enjoy a range of spa treatments, including baths, massages, saunas, and more, in various hotels and wellness centers.
- Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand: This is one of the most famous mineral springs in Spa. The building housing the spring is an impressive neoclassical structure, and visitors can taste the mineral water directly from the source.
- Thermes de Spa: The Thermes de Spa is a modern spa complex that offers a wide range of wellness and thermal treatments. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the benefits of the mineral-rich waters.
- Nature and Hiking: Besides the wellness aspect, Spa is located in a beautiful natural setting. Visitors can explore the nearby forests and countryside, making it an excellent destination for nature lovers and hikers.
- Casino de Spa: For those who enjoy a bit of entertainment, Spa is also home to the Casino de Spa, one of the oldest casinos in the world.
- Formula 1 Grand Prix: Spa is famous in the sports world for hosting the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which is a short distance from the town.
Overall, Spa is a charming Belgian town that offers a perfect combination of wellness, relaxation, natural beauty, and a touch of history. It’s an ideal destination for a rejuvenating getaway.
Photo courtesy of Thermes de Spa.
History of Spa
The history of Spa town dates back centuries and is closely linked to the discovery and popularity of its natural mineral springs. Here’s an overview of the historical significance of Spa:
- Ancient Origins: The healing properties of Spa’s mineral springs were known to the ancient Romans, who built baths and thermal facilities in the region. They believed in the therapeutic benefits of the mineral waters for various ailments and used them for relaxation and healing.
- Medieval Period: During the medieval period, Spa was a small village in the Ardennes region of Belgium. The local population and visitors continued to use the mineral springs for their health benefits.
- Renaissance and Enlightenment: In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spa’s reputation as a spa town began to grow further. The elite and nobility from neighboring regions, including France and the Netherlands, started visiting Spa to partake in the waters’ healing properties and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
- 18th Century Boom: Spa experienced a significant boom in the 18th century when it became a popular destination for European royalty and high society. King Louis XV of France and Emperor Joseph II of Austria were among the notable visitors. The town’s popularity as a spa destination reached its peak during this period.
- Tourism and Entertainment: As Spa gained popularity as a spa town, it also developed as a tourist destination. Hotels, entertainment venues, and cultural events were established to cater to the influx of visitors. The first casino in the world, the Casino de Spa, was built in 1763, adding to the town’s allure.
- Spa as a Health Resort: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Spa continued to attract visitors seeking wellness and relaxation. The town expanded its spa facilities and wellness centers to accommodate the growing demand.
- Decline and Revival: After World War I, Spa’s popularity as a spa town began to decline as other destinations gained prominence. However, in recent decades, there has been a renewed interest in health and wellness, leading to a revival of Spa’s spa industry and the development of modern wellness facilities.
- Formula 1 Racing: Since 1925, Spa has also been renowned in the sports world for hosting the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, bringing in motorsports enthusiasts from around the globe.
Today, Spa continues to attract tourists seeking relaxation, wellness treatments, and a taste of its historical charm. The town’s mineral springs and spa facilities remain a central attraction, offering visitors a chance to experience the same healing waters that have been cherished for centuries. Additionally, its scenic surroundings and cultural heritage make Spa a delightful destination for both history enthusiasts and modern travelers.
Photo courtesy of Thermes de Spa.
11 Top things to do in Spa
When visiting Spa there are several enjoyable activities and attractions to explore. Whether you’re interested in wellness and relaxation, nature and outdoor activities, or cultural experiences, Spa has something to offer for everyone. Here are some things to do in Spa:
- Thermal Baths and Spas: Experience the rejuvenating properties of the mineral-rich thermal springs that Spa is famous for. Visit the Thermes de Spa or other wellness centers in the town to enjoy a variety of spa treatments, thermal baths, saunas, and massages.
- Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand: Visit this historic neoclassical building and taste the mineral water directly from the natural spring. It’s a unique experience and an opportunity to learn about the town’s spa heritage.
- Hiking and Nature Walks: Explore the beautiful natural surroundings of Spa by taking a hike or nature walk in the nearby forests and countryside. There are several well-marked trails that offer stunning views and fresh air.
- Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps: Motorsports enthusiasts should not miss the chance to visit the iconic Formula 1 racetrack. Check the schedule for events or take a guided tour of the circuit to learn about its history.
- Domaine de Berinzenne: This nature reserve is located just outside of Spa and offers walking trails, a wildlife center, and educational exhibits about the local flora and fauna.
- Lake Warfaaz: Enjoy a relaxing stroll around Lake Warfaaz, a picturesque lake located close to Spa. You can also rent pedal boats and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
- Casino de Spa: Try your luck at the Casino de Spa, one of the oldest casinos in the world. Even if you’re not a gambler, the historic building itself is worth a visit.
- Fête de la Saint Remacle: If you happen to visit Spa during the last weekend of September, you can participate in the town’s annual celebration, Fête de la Saint Remacle, featuring a parade, concerts, and local festivities.
- Museums: Explore the history and culture of the region by visiting local museums like the Musée de la Ville d’eau, which showcases Spa’s spa heritage and the region’s history.
- Local Cuisine: Taste the delicious Belgian cuisine in Spa’s restaurants and cafes. Don’t forget to try some famous Belgian chocolates and waffles.
- Day Trips: Use Spa as a base to explore other nearby towns and cities in the Ardennes region, such as Durbuy, Stavelot, and Malmedy, which offer additional attractions and activities.
Remember to check the opening hours and availability of activities and attractions, especially if you’re visiting during specific seasons or holidays. Spa’s combination of wellness, nature, and cultural experiences makes it a delightful destination for a relaxing and enjoyable vacation.
Live and enjoy a more chic life.