Springs: natural mineral sources (thermal and cold)

Springs (mineral water sources or outlets) are the catalyst for a pioneering and innovative urban structure demonstrated by the ‘Great Spa Towns of Europe’. The are at the centre of a model of spatial organisation, built features and open spaces that exemplify processes that served and continue to serve, curative, therapeutic, recreational and social functions.

The effective and safe harnessing of spring water together with the facilities to promote its daily use were essential to the thousands of spa guests who came to ‘take the cure’- daily – often for weeks or months or for the entire annual season. Guests might visit different springs in the same resort for different purposes, or might visit multiple resorts depending on what each one had to offer.

The Great Spa Towns of Europe represent a large-scale sustainable healing resource. More than 160 springs and gas sources are used for therapeutic procedures, and all the major ‘curative’ spring types are here: from heavily mineralised and high in trace elements to relatively pure; from sparkling to still; from cold to hot, and with varying degrees of (minor) radioactivity.

An important part of all component parts is the existence of protection zones for the sources, covering up to several hundred square kilometres.