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Three Czech Spa Towns are inscribed into UNESCO’s World Heritage List

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee met in Fuzhou, China, from the 16th to 31st July 2021 for its annual session to review the list of world heritage sites. They have decided to inscribe The Great Spa Towns of Europe, which include the three Czech towns of Františkovy Lázně, Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně, into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The nomination highlights the importance and the outstanding universal values of spa culture and architecture as a specific European phenomenon. The Great Spa Towns were jointly presented by seven participating State Parties – Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Czechia – coordinator and guarantor of the entire nomination.

This new transnational World Heritage Site is composed of the eleven most significant spa towns in Europe: Baden bei Wien (Austria), Spa (Belgium), Františkovy LázněKarlovy VaryMariánské Lázně (Czechia), Vichy (France), Bad Ems, Bad Kissingen, Baden-Baden (Germany), Montecatini Terme (Italy), and the City of Bath (UK).

The Great Spa Towns of Europe, which were founded around natural mineral springs, together provide an exceptional testimony to the phenomenon of European balneology which reached its heyday between the 18th century and the early decades of the 20th century. A characteristic feature of this phenomenon is the combination of indoor and outdoor spa and therapeutic facilities with a wide range of leisure activities, reflected in a specific form of spa towns and their associated architecture. Ensembles of spa buildings including bathhouses, pump rooms, drinking halls and colonnades are complemented by assembly rooms, casinos, theatres and other cultural facilities, all integrated into a carefully maintained therapeutic landscape with mineral springs, parks, gardens, promenades and sports grounds. The surrounding landscape is used for physical activities as part of medical therapy, relaxation and entertainment. The spa towns were the only places in Europe that culturally rivalled major metropolises and became a source of intellectual, artistic, social and political inspiration, thus contributing to the democratization of European society.

The announcement puts the number of UNESCO-listed sights in the Czech Republic at 15.