The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA), is a membership organization representing historic thermal spa towns across Europe.Since 2010 it has been certified by the Council of Europe to manage the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns, as part of the Cultural Routes programme.
The EHTTA was founded in 2009 in Brussels (Belgium) by six Founder Members - Acqui Terme (Italy), Bath (UK), Ourense (Spain), Salsomaggiore Terme (Italy), Spa (Belgium), and Vichy (France). Many of these towns were involved in the 3-year long co-operation project called “Thermae Europae” (Culture 2000 Programme) which aimed to valorise and preserve thermal cultural heritage in Europe, and were keen to continue working together by establishing a permanent network.As a result, EHTTA was established as a non-profit association based on the need to encourage protect and enhance thermal, artistic and cultural heritage throughout Europe. In 2010 it was certified by the Council of Europe as a European Cultural Route, one of over 30 across Europe.
EHTTA has grown from its original 6 Founder Members to a healthy non-profit association, a network of 51 members in 18 countries
Towns and territories which all have a rich historical and cultural heritage and use their thermal mineral waters for health and well-being.
Declaration of our Cultural Route
The European Route of Historic Thermal Towns is one of over 38 routes certified by the Council of Europe, all based on themes which are important to the cultural heritage of Europe.
The Cultural Routes Programme was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Route of Santiago de Compostela, perhaps Europe’s most famous pilgrim route, chosen as a symbol of European unification and identity, built, as Europe was, “on a shared history of exchanges and encounters between people with different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs”. Since then, linear paths and themed networks have joined the Programme - over 3 decades promoting values through culture, contributing to cultural tourism and economic development.
The Institute of Cultural Routes, based in Luxembourg, describes the Cultural Routes as "Grassroots networks promoting the principles which underlie all the work and values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity, mutual understanding and exchanges across boundaries. They act as channels for intercultural dialogue and promot e a better knowledge and understanding of Europe"
The Cultural Routes preserve and enhance Europe's natural and cultural heritage as a factor for improving the living environment, acting as a source of cultural, social and economic sustainable development. In enriches the tourism sector with new products based on cultural and heriatge tourism, bringing new jobs and having an impacts on SMEs and innovation. It also helps to tackle seasonalitiy in tourism,and to facilitate education and learning , as well as promoting and preserving cultural identitities.
The certified Cultural Routes are re-evaluated every three years.
In 2010 the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns was officially approved as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, in accordance with Resolution CM/Res (2007)12. Granting that certification, this supranational institution acknowledged the value and singularity of Europe's thermal tradition and its contribution to the continent's history and identity. Since then, the EHTTA has been managed this permanent European network, committed to encourage the integrated development of spa towns and safeguard their heritage.
Being a part of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Route Programme is extremely important to EHTTA and its members, as it allows access to shared experience with almost 40 other European thematic cultural routes, and gives a platform from which to apply for sources of funding.
EHTTA has different categories of membership:
Municipalities that fall into the strict definition of spa towns. They must comply with EHTTA's criteria
Associations or regions providing their commitment to further the aims of EHTTA and the Cultural Route..
Reserved for thermal towns outside of Europe which can document the historical relation with European thermal heritage
Be within a country which is a member of the Council of Europe.
Have a history of use as a thermal spa town dating back to the 19th Century or before.
Have an active water source used for bathing or drinking as part of a thermal centre.
Have a tradition of cultural events and the infrastructure related: theatres, concert halls, casinos, bandstands...
Offer high quality accommodation with specific facilities dedicated to thermal activity.
Have thermal architectural heritage dating back at least to the 19th century, with balneotherapy-related buildings classified as historic monuments.