In Galicia there are a lot of rivers, as we know, but there is also a lot of water that circulates under the earth and from time to time it gushes out very hot, full of mineral properties. These springs have always been used to take healthy thermal baths. In the past, the greatest promoters of the thermal baths were the Romans. Today we can still enjoy their facilities in Bande, in Baixa Limia, in the province of Ourense, for example.
Already in the 19th century, many traditional bathhouses, built around springs, were transformed into elegant spas, meeting places for the most distinguished members of the society of the time. Nowadays, they are a magnificent destination for people seeking health, beauty, relaxation… at any time of the year.
As Galicia is a powerhouse in terms of thermal waters, it has many places where you can enjoy these natural waters. The first step in choosing where to go is to clarify the difference between thermal spa, spa and thalasso:
Thermal spa. In these thermal resorts, treatments are based on the properties of their mineral-medicinal waters, which have beneficial effects on certain ailments. Depending on whether the waters are sulphated, chlorinated, bicarbonated, carbogaseous, ferruginous, oligometallic or radioactive, they will be indicated for one ailment or another (respiratory, joint, skin…). Spa therapies are always medically supervised.
The golden age of these centres was in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The Mondariz spa, in fact, was known throughout Europe for treating biliary ailments. The intellectuals and high society of the peninsula came here to take the waters, and more: Pardo Bazán, Azorín, Pérez Galdós, the Portuguese royalty… Other spas of the time are those of A Toxa, Cuntis, Dávila de Caldas de Rei, Guitiriz, Lugo, Carballiño, Augas Santas and Baños de Molgas.
Of course, nowadays they have been renovated and offer an increasingly varied and innovative range of treatments. Most of them offer accommodation, ranging from the most traditional to the most luxurious. Any other examples?: thermal spas in Arnoia, Laias, Vila de Cruces, Caldas de Rei, Caldelas de Tui, Carballo…
Thalasso. Considering the origin of the word “thalassotherapy”, from the Greek thálassa (sea) and therapia (healing) we can already deduce what the story is about. We only have to add heat, otherwise it would be like bathing on the beach. In a thalasso, treatments are carried out with artificially heated seawater. In addition to seawater, other elements from the environment are used, such as seaweed, silt, mud… In these centres we find therapies for the recovery of traumatisms, rheumatic processes, respiratory, dermatological, gynaecological affections… and beauty and relaxation programmes, in which, in addition to thermal techniques, complementary techniques are used, such as massotherapy, pressotherapy…
Logically, thalasso spas need to be close to the sea. Some of the best known are the Gran Talasso at the Sanxenxo hotel, the Thalasso Atlántico in Oia, the Louxo in A Toxa or the Cantábrico Las Sirenas, in Viveiro.
Spa. The etymological origin of the word has to do with Spa, a famous Belgian thermal village. Today, the term is used to refer to facilities offering treatments with artificially heated non-medicinal water. As there is no need for hot springs or the sea nearby, spas are proliferating everywhere, especially in today’s hectic world, which calls for relaxation. Many hotels have spas and there are even small urban spas. They are closely linked to the wellness culture, and follow various traditions, offering Turkish baths, Finnish saunas… On the other hand, in spa rituals, massages are given an exotic dimension, and open to other senses, such as aromatherapy or Ayurveda therapies, for example.
Among the profusion of spas in Galicia, we can mention some, such as the Termaria Casa del Agua in A Coruña, A Quinta da Auga in Santiago, the Parador da Costa da Morte in Muxía, Galatea and Augusta Spa Resort in Sanxenxo… there is even a spa in the monastery of San Clodio, in Ourense.
In conclusion: Galicia is a true thermal paradise. There are plenty of thermal baths, spa resorts, talasos and spas to choose from here. And, by the way, there are more and more resources and activities aimed at children. So, whether alone, as a couple, with friends, with the family… What are we waiting for? Let’s try a spa destination!