A spa is a location where mineral-rich spring water (and sometimes seawater) is used to give medicinal baths. Spa towns or spa resorts (including hot springs resorts) typically offer various health treatments, which are also known as balneotherapy. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are especially widespread in Europe and Japan. Day spas are also quite popular, and offer various personal care treatments.
Origins of the term
The term is derived from the name of the town of Spa, Belgium, whose name is known back to Roman times, when the location was called Aquae Spadanae, sometimes incorrectly connected to the Latin word “spargere” meaning to scatter, sprinkle or moisten.
Since medieval times, illnesses caused by iron deficiency were treated by drinking chalybeate (iron-bearing) spring water (in 1326, the ironmaster Collin le Loup claimed a cure, when the spring was called Espa, a Walloon word for "fountain").
A thermal bath is a warm body of water. It is often referred to as a spa, which is traditionally used to mean a place where the water is believed to have special health-giving properties, though note that many spas offer cold water or mineral water treatments.
As the famed site of healing cold springs, Spa has been frequented as a watering-place since as early as the 14th century. Though other sources of healing mineral springs have become famous throughout the world, it is the town of Spa which has become eponymous with any place having a natural water source that is believed to possess special health-giving properties, as a spa. Since the eighteenth century casinos have also been located in the town.
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