Have you ever wondered where the word spa, used to denominate locations with mineral water springs, or refer to luxurious spots that we relate to pampering and relaxation comes from? If you didn’t, you might find it surprising that that these places owe their name to a small Belgian town found in the Province of Liège that is located in a beautiful valley and that is famous not only because of its eponym.
Spa was a favorite spot since the 14th century because of its allegedly healing springs, which were supposed to cure fevers and cleanse the body, in addition to being great for the kidneys. The town has often been cited in literature as during the 20th century it also became the last place in which Kaiser Wilhelm II lived. But two centuries before that, in 1763, this Belgian town gained global fame as to this day it hosts one of the oldest casinos in the world. A fun fact is that it is here that one of the closest variants to a contemporary blackjack game, known as trente-et-quarante, was played already in 1780.
So, in addition to visiting this beautiful building and possibly enjoying a fun night followed by a relaxing bath at Les Thermes de Spa, there is a plethora of activities you can do during your stay. The Lac de Warfaaz is a beautiful lake nearby Spa where you can enjoy a stroll, especially during the warmer months, and even do pedalo or go fishing. Another natural hotspot is the Domaine de Bérinzenne, where you can hike and get to know the wonderful forest-filled region of the Ardennes.
If you prefer walking around the town and go sightseeing, then you shouldn’t miss landmark building Pouhon Pierre le Grand that is, allegedly, the first place in which the famous Spa water was collected. It is located in Rue du Marche and you can find an information office inside it, to kill two birds with one stone. In addition to this, visitors can also taste the water that comes from and old and direct source, meaning it still preserves its natural ferrous flavors and properties.
Another interesting spot in Spa is the Musée de la Lessive, which is the Museum of Laundry. Although it may seem strange that there is a museum devoted to this, it actually offers quite an interesting view on the history of soap (and what was used before that), washing and the women that were in charge of carrying out this activity that is as old as times. The Musée de la Ville des Eaux (the museum of the town of waters) is also a must, even if it is only to see the wonderful and charming building hosting it.
On a sweet note, you can grab taste some of the best chocolates in town at Jean Loup Legrand – Artisan Chocolatier, which also makes a great souvenir to take back with you (the name Spa is printed on some of them) as your stay in Spa comes to an end.