Today, we associate the word spa with words such as luxury and pampering. An experience that aims to reinvigorate our body and spoil our soul.
We enter spas with the hope that our daily headaches will quietly sit outside. Possibly even go for a walk, so that once we are finished ‘being taken care of’, we won’t find them awaiting us.
But looking back at how the spa came to be, we realise that there’s a lot more than indulgence.
It’s still unclear where the word spa comes from, but it is safe to believe that it dates back to the Roman times when Roman legions discovered a curative, thermal spring in the town of Spa (at the time called Aquae Spadanae) or from the acronym of the sentence “Sanus per Aquam”, meaning health by or through water.
While the origin of the term is ambiguous, it is a lot more obvious the relation between water and health. And it’s exactly in water and its healing properties that we should seek the essence of the spa.
Since ancient times (even before the Greeks and the Romans), in fact, water was believed to possess healing and purifying properties and it was associated with physical and spiritual purification.
Although the beneficial effects of soaking in hot water was known among earlier civilizations, the balneotherapeutic practices were first introduced by the Greeks who developed a bathing ritual and travelled to natural springs to cure diseases. The baths were considered sacred places and were dedicated to several deities.
Alongside the medical and healing elements, the pursuit of relaxation and pleasureappeared during the Roman times.
Baths, therefore, became centres for relaxation and social activities until the end of the Roman Empire.