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History of Spa


Brief History of SPA

Spa, or a therapeutic water treatment derives it's name from municipality in Belgium, incidentally called Spa. The possibility is quite predominant that Spa, prima facie may very well be a derivation of the Latin word "spargere" meaning to scatter, sprinkle or moisten.

Many people around the world believed and still do that bathing in a particular spring, well, or river resulted in physical and spiritual purification. Thereby, the practice of traveling to hot or cold springs in hopes of effecting a cure of some ailment dates is quite archaic. Archaeological expeditions in the vicinity of hot springs in France and Czech Republic revealed Bronze Age weapons and offerings. In Great Britain, ancient legend credited early Celtic kings with the discovery of the hot springs at Bath, England. Forms of ritual purification have existed among far-ranging civilizations, right from native Americans, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians to Greeks and Romans. Even today, ritual purification through water can be found in the religious ceremonies of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. These primitve ceremonies reflect the ancient belief in the healing and purifying properties of water.

The Greek and Roman times bathing

The foundation of modern spa procedures was formed by the bathing regimens formed by the Greeks. For personal cleanliness, the Aegean individuals used wash basins, small bathtubs, foot baths and also instituted showers and public baths within their own gymnasium complexes as a relaxation method and personal hygiene. The Greeks constituted bathing facilities, added their own comforts like decorations and shelves, natural resources around the sacred pools for people who wanted healing.

The Greeks were then emulated by the Romans and the later surpassed the former in the complexity and size of their baths. This made the Greece and the Roman a center of focus for recreational and social activity. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, spread the concept of public bath to the Mediterranean and various European and north African regions.

Taking advantage of the natural hot springs, the Romans developed bath in their colonies, which became the essence of recreational activities for Roman communities. The Romans also used the hot thermal waters as a remedy to relieve their rheumatism, arthritis sufferings and the habit of excess food and drink

The Romans thus advanced bathing to an exquisite art which reflected in their bathhouses, like for instance the inclusion of more complex ritual than the simple sweating or absorption procedure.

Undressing, Bathing, Sweating, receiving a massage and resting are the various components of the bathing ritual, which demanded separate rooms to accommodate those functions and was built by the Romans.


Medieval times Bathing

The public baths, with the decline of the Roman Empire, frequently became places for unchaste behavior thus becoming responsible for the spread instead of cure of diseases. This developed a general notion among the Europeans frequent bathing encouraged sickness and disease. Every effort was thus made to close down the public baths to encourage this belief. The search of a few select hot and cold springs still continued which people trusted to be holy wells to cure several ailments. Eventually, a renowned health resort grew around these springs. The word SPA was hence mentioned to any health resort that was situated close to natural springs.

The bathing processes changed to a large extent during this time. The patients sporadically took bath for almost 10-11 hours in warm water while drinking mineral water, with two bath session, in the morning and afternoon respectively. This kind of treatment used to last for several days until the skin formed pustules and broke leading to flowing out of poisons conceived as the disease source.

18th century Bathing

The upper class Europeans considered bathing the entire body to be a lower class activity and hence washed their clothes with water frequently and just the faces. Slowly, little later in that century, this attitude and belief began to change towards bathing and was considered a way to restore their health. The wealthier and the famous lot flocked to the health resorts to bath and drink in the waters. Concerts, playing cards, Dancing, such social activities happened at the bath.

The 18th century contributed in the revival in the medical uses of the spring water amongst some German, Italian & English physicians which changed the direction of taking a SPA treatment.

Bathing - 19th and 20th centuries

In the 19th Century the physicians recognized the benefits that cleanliness could provide which gave bathing practice an acceptance and by the mid century there was a dramatic change in the situation. The European SPA visitors stressed bathing more than drinking water.

In the later days of the 19th century, big bathhouses were introduced as a new taste for an elaborate bathing ritual with the purpose to cure ailments and improve health. The garden spaces and fountains were imitated and secured a mentioned in the tour books about the roomy, woodsy offerings in the locality.

Every European Spa, began maintaining some amount individuality while offering similar cures and catered to people suffering from obesity and several other ailments.. Several other recreations were provided to guests after the bath which included horse racing, hunting, fishing, gambling, dancing etc amongst which sight-seeing and theatrical performances did the work of incentives for people visiting the SPA. Recognizing the medical gains of SPA therapy, some European governments even bore a portion of the patient’s expenses.