The term “Spa” has originated from the Spa Town in the Liege province of Belgium. The town is located in a forested valley where Ardennes mountains meet the Hautes Fagnes Plauteau. Spa town has become very famous because of its natural mineral water springs. The town is also famous because of the production of mineral water with the same brand name “Spa”, which is exported worldwide. Spa has always been praised for its healing environment.
Besides the natural springs, the town is also famous for hosting the annual Belgium Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Spa has also hosted some famous events like Tour de France in 2010 and the world’s first beauty pageant in 1888.
The beautiful town is surrounded with rivers, mountains and natural springs. The beauty and the fame of waters have attracted a lot of people throughout the centuries. The visitors who came to take the waters at Spa also include Charles II of England and Peter the Great. The importance of the Spa was so well established that the “Spa” became the English term for hydrotherapy.
History of Spa Belgium
The water in the Spa town has been believed to have natural healing properties and hence the town is seeing visitors looking for hydrotherapy since the 14th Century. It was also believed that drinking water from the Spa town will cure fevers, treat infections and cleanse the body. Gilbert Lymborh also wrote about the qualities of the “Acid Fountains of the Ardennes forest” as he called them by this name.
King of England’s physician visited Spa in 1547 and got highly impressed. He went back and praised the place a lot. The news spread and the high class started to visit the town. The visit by Charles II of England made the place very famous in 1654. Casinos were established in the town during the 18th century. The Spa town also acted as the general headquarters of the German Army in 1918. During this time, Spa was also an important place as it was the hospital town for the German Army.
Spa was again re-captured by Germans in the World War II and luckily “Battle of the Bulge”, which almost reached to the gates of the town, ended in 1945 before it could affect the town. From 1950 to 1960 the town had already became very famous as a recreational and tourist spot which started to attract a large number of tourists. Due to large number of visitors, the town went into an infrastructural renewal from 1980 to 1990. A new French song festival started in Spa in 1994 which became very famous in the region. It attracted 150,000 spectators in the year 2007. In 2007, the Spa town upgraded its Formula-One circuit which now hosts the Grand Prix every year.
11 Tourist Attractions in Spa Belgium
Parc 7 Heures (Seven O’clock Park)
This beautiful park was created on the meadows by the Wayai river in the 18th century. The park area is very posh and is an amazing relaxation spot for evening strolls, hence it is called Seven O’clock Park for the same reason. The lovely park also has many monuments from the 19th century. One of the main attractions in the park is the 130-meter Leopold II Gallery with a superb wooden ceiling. This gallery exhibits the information about the Belgium’s national heritage.
There are two main pavilions in the park. One is called Pavilion Petits Jeux and the other is called Pavilion Marie-Henriette which is named after the wife of Leopold II who died in Spa in 1902. There is also a mini-golf course near the park and a funicular which can take you up to the Colline d’Annette et Lubin hill. This hill has a new spa which offers spectacular views of the town and its surroundings.
Thermes de Spa Belgium
This spa was upgraded and relocated on top of the Colline d’Annete et Lubin Hill in the year 2004. You can either go by a cable car or hike up to the hill through a well-defined path which is said to increase circulation and metabolism before you reach the spa. The spa is famous for using a mix of ultra-modern and ancient techniques for hydrotherapy.
The spa has indoor and outdoor warm swimming pools and steam baths. The mineral water is taken from the Clemetine Spring which is very famous because of its healing and health properties and is considered very good for skin. The treatment packages include facials, massage, saunas, Turkish baths, infrared treatment, bubble seats and meditation sessions. There spa also offers special treatment plans for new mothers and babies.
This is a famous spring from where Peter the Great took the waters in 1717. The pavilion around the spring was re-opened in 2012 after renovations and became the tourist office of Spa. One of the main attractions at this place is the “Fontaine Aux Dauphins Interieure” which is one of the most beautiful fountains in the Spa town. The garden is a great venue for exhibitions and events.
Musee de la Lessive (Laundry Museum)
This museum should be mentioned because it is a very unique kind of a museum and is located at the Parc 7 Heures. This museum is all about Laundry. Yes, you get to learn how laundry was done when there were no washing machines. Well, I have travelled to a lot of places and I have seen manual laundry processes as well, but this museum displays information about some of the ways that you could not have imagined. There are documents, replicas and antique laundry objects on display. Museum guide also demonstrates laundry on some hand operated machines which were built in 19th century. There is also information about the history of soaps and detergents. Check the museum timings before visiting as they change according to seasons.
This museum is a bit different than the port sunlight museum in UK. I remember Port Sunlight village because of the amazing work done by the soap factory owners for the labor and staff which resulted in a beautiful model village that has become a famous tourist attraction today.
Lac de Warfaaz Spa Belgium
This lake was created in the north east of Spa town in 1892 to prevent the floods. The beautiful Lac de Warfaaz is situated just a few kilometers outside the Spa town. The lake shores are paved with beautiful chestnut trees. There are wonderful tracks around the lake for walking and cycling. There are also some nice fishing spots at the lake. There are also pedal boats available at the lake, you can rent them and explore the lake. There are also some cafes, bars and restaurants on the southern shore of the lake.
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
This is the famous venue for Belgium Grand Prix and was created in 1920 very near to the Spa town. This circuit is also considered as one of the most beautiful Grand Prix circuits of the world. The race takes place every year around the end of August or the start of September. The track still stays busy during the rest of the days from March to November. You can visit the place and take a guided tour which will show you the press rooms, booths of the commentators, race control room and podium etc.
This 7-kilometers-long circuit is loved by both fans and the drivers as it challenges the divers because of its fast, winding and undulating layout. Some of the parts of the track are highly entertaining as the drivers are tested for their skills and control while the course rapidly changes between long straights and high-speed turns.
Casino de Spa Belgium
The Spa town is not only the origin of the word “spa”, but this town also has one of the oldest casinos in the world. Casino de Spa was built in 1763 when the number of elite tourists increased in Spa. It became very famous and the reputation of the casino grew all around the world.
Anyone above the age of 21 can enter this beautiful old building. The building is named as Redoute after the French term for gambling establishment. This old building stood through the test of times and the gambling bans. The building suffered damage due to fire and was reconstructed in 1929.
The casino has slot machines and the table games like roulette, blackjack or traditional poker game. The casino also has a large terrace where food is served with the panoramic views of the Spa town.
Spa Forest Belgium
This is an ideal place for the fun and adventure lovers who visit Spa town in Belgium. The Spa town is located in a forested valley and hence this adventure park is created using the superb forest environment. You can enjoy tree climbing, rope shifting from one tree to another and ziplines. There are many fun activities where you can climb up the rope ladders like soldiers and try to maintain your balance on slim bridges to avoid a fall. You can also enjoy archery and play survival games. This adventure is safe, and a safety line is clipped to the visitors.
Les Francofolies de Spa Belgium
This is the music festival that we have talked about before. This festival starts in the month of July every year and promotes French language in music. This festival is very happening and attracts a lot of artists and tourists from around the world. The air of the city is enchanted with the sound of music and the smile of people during the festival days.
Chateau de Franchimont
This ruined castle is just a 15-minutes-drive from the Spa town of Belgium. Chateau de Franchimont was built in the 11th century by Prince Bishopric of Liege. The castle went through many modifications through the centuries.
The underground passages take you back in the war times when they were used for tactical defense. The castle became unsafe in the 16th century because it could be targeted easily from the hills. The castle was abandoned and later destroyed by Louis XIV. Some part of the castle survived and the artillery tower at the castle now hosts the exhibition about the castle’s history.
Ravel Spa-Stavelot Belgium
The Ravel path network has enabled cyclist to roam around the Wallonia region easily and keeping it pollution free. The path is 1400 kilometers long and is still growing. The path is created mostly on the former railway lines and canal towpaths. The path has given access to the cyclists to the Ardennes region and they can enjoy the uninterrupted views of beautiful landscapes.
The Ravel Spa-Stavelot is a 22-kilometer route will take you from Spa town to the Luxembourg province of Belgium. You will enjoy cycling through the natural forest and passing directly above the Belgium Grand Prix Site.