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26 Jul 2021

Eleven historic spa towns in Europe achieve UNESCO World Heritage status
BY Megan Whitby

The city of Bath in South West England was originally founded by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa

The city of Bath in South West England was originally founded by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa
photo: Bath_North East Somerset Council

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has honoured 11 European spa towns and added them to its esteemed World Heritage List.

The new transnational serial World Heritage Site is composed of The Great Spa Towns of Europe which comprise 11 famous historic thermal spa towns and cities in seven countries.

Each town was founded around natural mineral springs and their inscription onto the list will bring them better protection and enhanced cooperation in the fields of heritage conservation, balneology/health, tourism and promotion.

The group includes the following locations:
  • Baden bei Wien, Austria

  • Spa, Belgium

  • Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

  • Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic

  • Frantiskovy Lazne, Czech Republic

  • Vichy, France

  • Baden-Baden, Germany

  • Bad Ems, Germany

  • Bad Kissingen, Germany

  • Montecatini Terme, Italy

  • Bath, UK


Inscription on the World Heritage Listing is the highest international recognition for global cultural and natural heritage sites. The list is managed by UNESCO on behalf of the United Nations.

The new addition of the spa towns will mark the list’s 36th transnational World Heritage Site. It currently includes 1129 locations overall, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, The Vatican in Italy and Yellowstone National Park in the US.

The nomination was prepared jointly by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the Czech Republic – which managed and coordinated the entire project.

Lubomír Zaorálek, the Czech Republic’s minister of culture, remarked: “ The Great Spa Towns of Europe project is an excellent example of international co-operation between ministries and institutions, experts and representatives of several municipalities in seven European countries.

“I greatly appreciate the support of the Mayors of the towns involved who have tirelessly supported this project and provided financial resources over the extensive period of its demanding preparation. At the same time, I’m proud that the Czech Republic was chosen as the coordinator of the project, and as a leader of the European countries involved, brought it to a successful inscription.”



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