The Great Spa Towns of Europe
Together with eight other spa towns and cities, the urban heritage reserves of Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně, and Františkovy Lázně were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2021 as part of a property named The Great Spa Towns of Europe.
The transnational serial property of The Great Spa Towns of Europe comprises Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně in the Czech Republic, Baden-Baden, Bad Ems, and Bad Kissingen in Germany, Spa in Belgium, Vichy in France, Montecatini Terme in Italy, Baden bei Wien in Austria, and the City of Bath in the United Kingdom.
The Great Spa Towns of Europe, formed around natural mineral springs, provide an exceptional testimony to the European spa phenomenon which flourished from the beginning of the 18th to the first decade of the 20th century. A characteristic feature of this phenomenon is the combination of health treatments, both in indoor and outdoor settings, accompanied by a vibrant array of entertainment, which can be seen reflected in the architecture and specific features of the spa towns. Ensembles of buildings, including bathhouses, pump rooms, drinking halls, colonnades, and other amenities complement the local urban historic environment, all while set into a meticulously maintained landscape with mineral springs, parks, gardens, promenades, and spaces for exercise. The surrounding idealised landscape is used for physical activities conducted as part of medical therapy, for relaxation, and for leisure. Within Europe, spa towns were the only competitors to large metropolises as places of intellectual, artistic, social, and political expression, and consequently contributed to the democratisation of the European society.