Great Spas of Europe

Bath is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but could possibly receive a second nomination.

In 2008 UNESCO indicated that spa towns could be inscribed on the World Heritage list, to show the influence of spas on European culture, and asked for the best examples of European spas to be put forward. Bath having already achieved one listing is a key player in helping the nomination which features 16 spa towns from seven countries.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has been supporting the bid by producing evidence of the city’s world-wide significance as a spa town.

We started the work when I was Leader of the Council and I am pleased that the new administration is keeping this project going as it will be a great asset for Bath. Also Cllr Cherry Beath has been allowed to continue the work in recognition of the relationships she had built up with spa towns in the bid over the last 4 years.

To go forward for consideration, each spa town or city must have their respective Government backing. Putting together a bid involves considerable work to justify that a place is of such outstanding international significance to justify this prestigious inscription. Bath’s bid has now been assessed by Minister, who has approved the draft nomination and offered her full support for the project. If all progresses well, this could lead to Bath being inscribed in 2018 as one of only a handful of places in the world recognised twice on the UNESCO list.

There are currently 16 other spa towns in the bid, but only half of these are likely to make the World Heritage List. The other spas are from Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Belgium and Austria. They include famous spa towns such as Spa (Belgium) and Baden Baden (Germany). The bid recognises aspects such as ‘taking the cure’, early diagnostic medicine around spas, development of early mass tourism, the rules of a polite society, the ‘diversions’ (amusements) put in place for visitors and the unique urban forms that resulted from these practices.

Roll on 2018 and a successful nomination and then we can reactivate the bid to get the Great Western Rail from Paddington to Bristol inscribed as an example of engineering of global significance.

This is a great Pan European Unesco bid and is yet another example of the benefits of working together and in partnership. It is about the politics of integration and the benefits that brings us as opposed to the politics of disintegration which brings only strife.


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