The word ‘spa’ has a long balneological history. It is said to be derived from Latin, demonstrating that this unique natural resource has been recognised since the 1st century. The reputation of the waters of ‘Spa’ are such that it has been exported throughout Europe since the end of the 16th century and now globally. It was then during the 18th century that medical prescriptions for crenotherapy were first linked with healthy pursuits such as amusement, leisure and walking.

After Tsar Peter the Great took ‘the cure’ in 1717, Spa became a fashionable rendezvous for European aristocracy. The ‘spa’ function influenced the development of the town, which evolved organically around its main spring and extended beyond to the distant springs in the surrounding landscape and forests.

The network of promenades linking these springs offers views of the neighbouring hills and is designed to emphasise the links between nature and thermal cures. This therapeutic and recreational landscape is still visible and much used today. The protection of the water has, since the end of the 18th century, had a considerable effect on the evolution of the landscape and the development of the town.

Spa has all the attributes of an authentic spa town: numerous springs and their pavilions, surrounded by modest and intimate pleasure gardens; a spa quarter including thermal baths, casino and meeting places, parks and gardens, hotels and villas; and the entire therapeutic spa landscape with its relationship to the peaceful and picturesque natural woodland that provides the backdrop to this most original of spa towns.