S. Pedro do Sul - Portugal

Introduction

Located in the municipality which gives it its name, S. Pedro do Sul Thermal Baths is just a few kilometres away from the city of Viseu. With excellent accessibility, S. Pedro do Sul, benefits from a rich natural heritage - mountains, hills, valleys and rivers, anchoring elements of the region - and offers unparalleled conditions for an invigorating holiday, full of experiences and emotions. It complements the magic of its waters, with unique properties in Europe, with the elegance of its services and treatments, allied with the benefits and pleasures of nature at its purest, exuberant landscapes, providing unforgettable sights, ideal for the pursuit of healthy lifestyles and active or nature tourism.

Historical background

S Pedro do Sul Roman Bath smallThe healing properties of these thermal waters have been recognised for more than 2000 years, but the Romans were the ones who left the most important heritage associated with thermalism, visible in the stone remains that were part of the Roman Balneum built here in the first century of the Christian era. Since that time that the waters were a subject of much interest and became quite famous. In 1152, King Afonso Henriques, recognizing the growing importance of the village where such special waters sprang, conceded the 1st Foral to “Vila do Banho”, thus granting it the status of a municipality. It is the first King of Portugal who, in 1169, after breaking his leg in the Battle of Badajoz, recovered physically in “Caldas Lafonenses”, known today as the S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre, where he built the small chapel “Capela de S. Martinho” (St. Martin Chapel), which is still open to the public.
In the early years of the sixteenth century, it was King Manuel I who decided to develop “Caldas Lafonenses”, building the “Caldas de Lafões” Royal Hospital, and granting, in 1515, a new Foral to the place, thus increasing its competences and importance.

Queen Amelia surronding SMALLIn the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries, S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre was revitalized and modernized. In 1884, the Municipality of S. Pedro do Sul decided to build modern Baths that would replace the tercentenary “Caldas de Lafões” Royal Hospital. Ten years later, in 1894, Queen Amélia went to the new Baths for the first time to find treatment for some physical problems that troubled her... That is why, one year later, the site became “Caldas da Rainha D. Amélia”.
It is in the twentieth century, with the 1910 Republic, that they became Termas de São Pedro do Sul (São Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre).

At the end of the century, in 1987, a new building, the Thermal Centre, was inaugurated, at the same time as the modernization of the existing Baths, already called the Queen Amelia Baths. The first decade of the twenty-first century; the beginning of the 3rd millennium of the S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre marks the biggest and most significant modernization and expansion of its entire history.

Within eight years, the new S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre was unrecognizable: more modern, with the latest thermal equipment, more attractive and with a team of highly qualified professional staff, with the contemporary creativity of the great designer José António Tenente, who designed all the professional clothing of the SPA staff, as well as its line of merchandising.

The arrival of S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre in an era of Medical & Wellness Tourism, with all the new requirements of a diversified public, demands an increasing sophistication in the products and services that it offers:  a modern and professional management that pays attention to the new trends of this market segment and is also ready to respond to its enormous potential, creating an innovative cosmetic line, the first in Portugal, formulated with thermal water: AQVA - Termas de S. Pedro do Sul Dermocosméticos.

Water sources

Termas de São Pedro do Sul (S. Pedro do Sul Thermal Baths) has two mineral water producing sectors that are about 1.2 km distant from one another. The Spa Sector includes the bathhouses for medicinal treatments and the geothermal central for the heating of non-mineral waters for domestic use (heating and water supply); it also includes a well (AC1) with a depth of 500m and an ancient spring (Traditional Spring, since the Roman empire) which together produce, by arthesianism, about 18 l/s at a temperature of approximately 68.7ºC. Therefore, in the Spa sector the resource is used mainly with three purposes: thermal uses, geothermic uses and for dermocosmetic products.

The Vau Sector has a small mineral spring and two wells, the SDV1 and the SDV2 with a depth of 216m and 151m, respectively. The water flow of each, in pumping, can be of 10 l/s at a temperature of 67º C. On a regional scale the occurrence of the springs is favoured by the great active fault of Verin (Spain) – Régua – Penacova which, in the area of the study, extends itself into the Ribamá fault (N0º-10ºE) and can conduct flows from great distances and depths.

Cultural heritage

S. Cristovúo de LafÁes MonasterThe cultural heritage of the area mirrors the human experience in a region, which, over time has translated into the customs of the local populations, their habits and traditions, and the characteristics of the buildings and settlements. Throughout the territory, there are vestiges of the past, manifestations of a rich and diverse (historical and cultural) heritage that are open to visitors. Traditional villages are a good example of this human experience, in addition to the medieval and Roman buildings, and vestiges of megalithic constructions and rock art.


S Pedro do Sul Roman Ruins small“Ruínas Romanas”: The Roman ruins of “Termas de S. Pedro do Sul” ( S. Pedro do Sul Thermal Baths), which were listed as national monument in 1938, were built at the beginning of the 1st century, in a delightful site on the banks of the Vouga River. Although they have been subjected to some additional construction work, they have been kept active for centuries, since their foundation up until the end of the nineteenth century. From the fifties on, mainly during the three decades that followed them, several excavations were made on the site, which led to the discovery of Roman artefacts.

Spa and treatments

S Pedro do Sul Respiratory TreatmentS. Pedro do Sul Thermal Baths  leads the Health and Wellness market in Portugal. It specializes in the cure of respiratory and rheumatologic diseases, due to the mineralogical properties of the waters and also offers a range of spa treatments. 

Near the Roman ruins, the King Afonso Henriques Bath, which consists of three floors, supplies classic Thermalism, physical medicine and rehabilitation and thermal wellness services. The baths have individualized hydrotherapy treatment wards equipped with hydro massage bathtubs, steam chambers for the back, steam chambers for the limbs, showers with massage, jet and needle showers, circular shower and emanatoria. They also offer spacious treatment rooms for respiratory disorders. One of these rooms is designed exclusively for children and adolescents (from the age of 5) who increasingly visit us and have turned S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre into an ideal holiday destination for the whole family.

The Queen Amelia Bath in contrast is the classical alternative of sophistication and charm. It offers a Thermal Wellness atmosphere with  highly personalized treatment. It increasingly positions itself as the Wellness Baths per excellence. It stands out for offering a diversified Thermal Wellness Spa programme, which unlike the Health Programmes (requiring a minimum stay of 14 to 21 days at the Thermal Spa so that the waters can effectively produce results) may be experienced in a single weekend. The proof that, in addition to health, this can also be a place of relaxation and tranquillity, ideal for those who want to break away from the stress of everyday life. A true “SPA” with an extra ingredient: the thermal water.

The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation service is also composed of individualized treatment rooms. The synergy between the unique properties of the thermal waters with the techniques and the latest equipment are the key to success for those who need care in this area. This service works in King Afonso Henriques Baths and has excellent conditions, with the latest equipment, excellent medical and technical staff and a totally personalized service for those seeking cure for their health problems. Considered one of the best Physical Medicine centres in the country, the S. Pedro do Sul Spa and Hydrotherapy Centre welcomes countless people living in the municipality, in the country and even from abroad, namely, from Canada, Brazil and France.

 

Famous visitors

Royalty, aristocrats, artists, writers, politicians, musicians, actors have all visited S.Pedro do Sul.
Examples include:
King Afonso Henriques, Queen Amelia and all the Portuguese court at the time,

King Manuel I,

“D. Dinis”,

“D. João I” and his wife,

the Duke of Lancaster,

“D. Duarte” and his wife,

“Infante D. Pedro”,

“Infante D. Henrique”

and the Dukes of Viseu.

Cultural events and activities

S.Pedro do Sul Festival di Agua smallIn our town we have 'Thermal Animation' which includes daily activities aimed to distinct publics, such as music and leisure and cultural activities. The municipality also organises a quarterly "Cultural Agenda". Both programmes include: modern and traditional music concerts, theatre, cinema, jazz, exhibitions, seminars, street entertainment, pedestrian routes, an urban night circuit, a traditional and family agriculture street market, gastronomy festivals and adventure sports.

 

As examples:
“Congresso de Hidrologia Médica” - Medical Hydrology Portuguese Society Congress;
“Aquae Sulis” - Roman Festival;
“Festival da Água” – Water Festival – cultural activities;
“Ocupai – Festival Ibérico de Arte e Ação” (Ocupai- Art an action Iberian Festival): an artistic festival to mark the territory in its cultural, artistic and historical aspects leveraging the thermal tourism, with regular quality cultural offer.
“Feira da Laranja” (Orange Fair) - orange promotion – gastronomy, agricultural products. Entertainment activities, sports;
“Semana do Turismo” (Tourism Week) - tourism promotion in the county;
“Feira da Vitela de Lafões” - taverns, local products sails, animal exhibition, seminars, musical animation, craftwork, exhibitions, pedestrian route, trail running;
“Festas do Concelho” (City Festivities) - recreational and cultural activities;
“Festival do Feijão” (Bean Festival) - beans and local produce for sale, craftwork and traditional pastry, seminars,
workshops, conferences, show cooking’s - gastronomy;
“Festa da Castanha e do Mel “ (nuts and honey festival) – nuts and honey for sale, crafts and traditional pastry, cooking demonstrations, traditions;
“Mercado de Agricultura Tradicional e familiar” - cloisters town hall - Every Saturday morning, we can buy all kind of agricultural foods and products from traditional local producers.

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