Café of Europe

Spa, the ‘eponymous spa town’ and ‘Pearl of the Belgian Ardennes’, played a precursory role in the recognition of the medical properties of mineral water from the early seventeenth century. Its carbonated waters were ideally suited to drinking and have been widely distributed across Europe ever since, leading to the introduction of the name “spa” in the English vocabulary. Since the early eighteenth century, Spa’s numerous springs that issue on a wooded hillside south of the town served for both crenotherapy and physical activity, a network of walks linking the various springs and connecting them to the town. Spa became internationally-renowned as the ‘Café of Europe’, and a pioneer of gaming. From the second half of the nineteenth century it was transformed into a modern spa resort with French classicist architecture. Today, thermal tradition and know-how is sustained by the addition of a new thermal centre overlooking the town.