Scattered around Spa, the springs best known as “pouhons” are always accessible to visitors. A complete circuit will include the “pouhons” of Pierre-le-Grand and Prince de Condé (city centre), the Tonnelet spring, the springs of the Sauvenière and of Groesbeek, the Barisart spring and the fountain of Géronstère, the latter being higher situated (between 950 and 1400 ft) in the surrounding woods.
In the past, the population attributed the therapeutic virtues of the waters to some miraculous intervention. Later on, numerous studies took on a more scientific approach, classifying the springs by taking into account their components and the ailments that they were to cure.
Today, they are still recommended in many therapies. It’s however not necessary to be ill to “take the waters”. Curiosity is just as legitimate a pretext as any other.
Pouhon Pierre le Grand’spring and the winter garden
In the 16th century, the spring of “Pierre-le-Grand” was still only a simple cesspool sheltered in a modest recess. In 1717, delighted by the efficiency of the treatment, Tsar “Peter the Great” had a black marble plaque set up to celebrate the recovery of his health. Pouhon Pierre le Grand shelters the most prolific spring; naturally fizzy, it is full of mineral salts and rich in iron with an average flow rate of 21,000 liters per day. Constructed in 1880 by Victor Besme, the building was completely renovated by the architect Léo Haesbroeck in 2012. It houses the Tourist Office and the celebrated Spa «Livre d’Or», the work of artist Antoine Fontaine, nine meters long and representing in joyous chronological disorder 92 famous people who came to take the waters at Spa. Interactive animations show the wealth of Spa through its prestigious past as well as the current dynamism of the thermal city. Return to the atmosphere of 1900 with its great colonnades, reconstructed mosaics and open views over the town. This splendid room is home to an outstanding permanent exhibition of works by Joan Miro as well as temporary exhibitions.
Pouhon Prince de Condé
Discovered in 1863 by the pharmacist Schaltin, in the cellar of his house named “Prince de Condé” (1774), the spring was exploited on the spot. Until the end of the century this mineral water was bottled at the rate of 50.000 bottles per annum. The spring was later sold to the Compagnie de Vichy and bought back by the city of Spa in 1903. The Pouhon Prince de Condé originates from the same layer of ground water as the close by Pouhons Pierre-le-Grand and Armes d’Autriche. It differentiates itself however by a higher count in minerals acquired during the last lap of its underground itinerary. In equilibrium with the 19th century glass wall surrounding the original building which housed the spring, the current pyramid is designed to reflect architecture from the end of the 20th century. Art exhibitions are held here throughout the year.
The Tonnelet spring
The Tonnelet spring at Nivezé was only visited at the beginning of the 17th century. It takes its name from the fact that it was collected in a small barrel (tonnelet). This is the same water as the "Spa Marie-Henriette", but as it is the spring (ferruginous and carbonated). For commercial purposes, the iron content is reduced in "Spa Marie-Henriette" water. Successively studied by de RYE and de HEER, doctors of Liège, it also had the honour of being examined by André TREVISIUS, doctor of Archduke ALBERT and Archduchess ISABELLE.
The Sauveniere and Groesbeeck springs
The Sauvenière spring is the oldest, and used to be the most prolific of the Spa springs. It was discovered by Saint Remacle who, according to legend, left the imprint of his sandal at the edge of the fountain taht was thereafter considered as miraculous. It became a place of pilgrimage for young husbands, since it was said to possess specific properties for curing sterility. This spring is the departure point for many of the walks, including the well-known "Promenade d’Orléans" named after the Duchess. BERKELEY, an English gentleman, traced many paths in the vicinity.
The history of the Groesbeeck spring is closely related to that of its neighbour. Having disappeared for some unknown reason in 1663, it reappeared, not long after, more abundant and clearer. The Baron de GROESBEECK had a marble niche erected in 1651. The Marquis de CROY whose spouse was of the de GROESBEECK family restored this construction in 1776. In 1963 the Tourist Office of the Town of Spa further refurbished it.
The Géronstère spring
Water from this spring (altitude 400 meters), has a sulphurous taste, and is highly recommended for infections of the respiratory tract. Doctor de RYE is the first, who let know the virtues of this spring. The water, tasting of sulphur, is mainly recommended for respiratory ailments. It was said to be good to cure the “black bile”. The Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, frequently came to «take the waters». Known for its strong taste (it is ferruginous and carbonated), it was also known under the name «Enragée» (Furious). The pavilion and the water temple that house the spring were donated to Spa by the Earl of Burgsdorff in 1651. The restoration of the site was done in 1979 by the Tourist Office of the Town of Spa with the help of the “Commissariat Général au Tourisme”.
The Barisart spring
Well known spring of the bygone days it is cited with the others in the LYMBORGHT list in 1559. Until it was ahrnessed in 1850, it flowed freely through the fields. Musicians and famous composers, Giacomo MEYERBEER and Charles GOUNOD were familiar figures at this site. A charming walk along the little cascades named after the first of these artists, links Barisart to her neighbouring sister of the Géronstère. Between a romantic grotto dating from the 19th century and two artificial ponds, a new Trink-Hall and restaurant were built in 1972.
Two other forest springs, sheltered under small constructions, are also known to the holidaymakers. They are the Pouhon Pia and the Pouhon Delcor.
Spa has three bottled waters - named Riene, Marie-Henriette (gently carbonated), and Barisart (sparkling).
|Composition in mg/l