Visitors can bathe in Spa’s mineral hot springs at Les Thermes de Spa. // © 2012 Kelly Rosenfeld
In an age when people are constantly seeking the relaxation and healing properties that a trip to the spa provides, many are unaware that this tradition has roots in a small European town that is actually named Spa. A municipality located in the Walloon region of eastern Belgium, Spa has long been renowned for its mineral springs, which are not only believed to have healing qualities, but are also the reason why the term “spa” is used for any such similar establishment today.
The springs of Spa were utilized in Roman times, rediscovered in 1326 and have been frequently visited since the 16th century. The town became a particularly popular destination in the 18th and 19th centuries, when European royalty began making trips to bathe in Spa’s famed waters.
Today, Spa boasts a variety of attractions, making it a must-see stop on any tour through Belgium. Visitors can try out the springs for themselves at Les Thermes de Spa, which has been renovated to house approximately 8,600 square feet of hot swimming pools available for visits ranging from a few hours to a full day. The water used at Les Thermes comes from the Clementine spring, and the pools feature geysers, bubble seats and submerged couches for optimal relaxation. There are also steam rooms, saunas and massage treatments as well as other spa therapies.
Spa’s other tourist attractions include the world’s oldest casino, dating back to 1763; the Belgian Grand Prix, held annually at the Spa-Francorchamps track; and Les Francofolies de Spa, a family-friendly music festival that celebrates the best in French music. This year’s festival will take place July 18-22.