03 Jul, 2013

The Magic of Water

The history of the spa goes right back to prehistoric times. The word “spa” denotes a type of water treatment, also known as balneotherapy. Many cultures across the world have recognised a kind of power and health benefits in certain types of mineral water and have therefore developed bathing practices and techniques intended to harness the magic of water.

The practice of bathing in mineral rich waters is most prevalent in Japanese and European cultures. Spa type bathing practices were popular in Ancient Greece. Greeks sometimes made small baths, wash basins and footbaths for personal cleanliness but they also made use of natural hot springs in mountains and harnessed their relaxing and restorative powers. In Greek mythology there are mentions of natural springs which were blessed by the gods to cure disease. Greeks built bathing facilities by these pools and enjoyed their healing powers. In gratitude for the magic of water, visitors left offerings to the gods when they were healed at these sites. The fierce Spartan warrior people even developed an early form of vapor bath, the ancient predecessor of the steam rooms at Spa Experience. 

These Greek practices were adopted and modified by the Romans and remained popular, but when Rome fell, the Catholic church discouraged public baths, thinking them an unclean and un-Christian activity. Meanwhile in the East, Muslims adopted Roman bathing practices and improved them. The Turkish Baths and Arabic Hamams developed a sophisticated therapeutic use of water which was brought to Europe when Arabs invaded Spain in the medieval era. The largest Arabic baths in the world outside an Islamic country are those located in the Spanish city of Jaén, which date back to the 12th century.

Although Europeans take a less spiritual approach to spas these days, seeking relaxation rather than the magic of water, spas have never been so popular. Even on the coldest outskirts of Europe, in Iceland, natural spas are a huge tourist attraction. In 1976 a pool formed from the waste water of a geothermal power plant. In 1981 people began bathing in it after the discovery of it’s healing powers for psoriasis. In 1992 the pool was named The Blue Lagoon and was opened to the public who continue to enjoy the healing and relaxing magic of water to this day.

@2016 Spa Experience. Spa Experience is a registered trading name of GLL (Trading) Limited, Company Registration Number 04234158 which is a subsidiary of GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited), a charitable social enterprise and registered society under the Co-operative & Community Benefit & Societies Act 2014. Registered address: Middlegate House, The Royal Arsenal, London SE18 6SX

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