The Great Spa Towns of Europe
In July 2021, Bath secured a second UNESCO World Heritage Status as one of 11 Great Spa Towns of Europe. This means that Bath will have a rare second World Heritage inscription, overlaying the first inscription which will be retained.
The Great Spa Towns of Europe project focuses on historic spa towns across Europe, focused around natural sources of mineral waters such as springs, which consequently formed fashionable centres of health and leisure from the 18th century. Facilities for therapeutic water treatments were accompanied by social venues such as theatres, assembly rooms, restaurants, and hotels with formal parks and gardens for outdoor leisure. Spa towns were typically built to incorporate natural landscape features and characteristics, resulting in a unique and innovative built urban form whilst remaining sustainable in scale.
The project considers the significance of the “continuing living tradition” of spa towns as active centres of health, leisure, and tourism.
Bath achieved World Heritage status in 1987. By the 2000s, spa towns in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany were also seeking inscription as World Heritage Sites. UNESCO therefore suggested the possibility of undertaking research into developing a serial nomination to express the outstanding universal value of the European spa phenomenon. This would allow for international collaboration in the protection and enhancement of a number of highly significant heritage sites.
The inscription is transnational, meaning that all 11 sites across Europe will be considered as one World Heritage Site. Bath is the only one of the 11 towns to already have World Heritage Status. The inscription includes the following sites:
- Baden bei Wien, Austria
- Spa, Belgium
- Františkovy Lázně, Czech Republic
- Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
- Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic
- Vichy, France
- Bad Ems, Germany
- Baden-Baden, Germany
- Bad Kissingen, Germany
- Montecatini Terme, Italy
- City of Bath, UK