Located at the western corner of Europe, in the Spanish region of Galicia, Ourense is a city with a thermal water production of more than 3 million litres per day, one of the largest flows in Europe. The presence of hot springs has always defined the life and history of the city, and was indeed the reason why Romans chose to settle here two thousand years ago,founding the settlement Aquis Aurensis, waters of gold.
Today Ourense remains famous for its many hot springs, enjoyed here in an unique way: any time of the day you can have an open-air thermal bath in its many thermal facilities, whether summer or winter. The city is also known for its Medieval heritage, with an historic centre full of Romanesque, Baroque and Modernist monuments; and for itsexcellent local cuisine, which you may try at its many charming traditional restaurants and taverns.
The Municipality of Ourense is a Founding Member of EHTTA..
The origins of Ourense can be traced to the Romans and are linked to the hot springs and the river Minho, where they built an impressive bridge, which is still standing today. The location was a strategic spot for communications, so they built a settlement here to protect it, while transforming the hot springs area - today, the historic thermal site of As Burgas - into a place of pilgrimage, as the springs were considered sacred. Indigenous god Revve Anabaraego had a shrine-pool in As Burgas, which visitors in the 1st century came to pray for their health. Remains of this sanctuary and a Roman balnea (bathhouse) can still be visited today.
After the Romans, Ourense was a major city of the Suebi Kingdom for the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries. During the Middle Ages and under the rule of the bishops, the city expanded as the commercial centre of an agricultural area devoted to wine production, although the attacks of the Moors and Normans almost devastated it.
Land Transportation boosted Ourense’s economic activity during the 19th century, starting a new period of splendour that was reinforced with the arrival of the railway in the 20th century, turning the city into an important commercial hub. The development of the new thermal facilities along the banks of river Minho that started in the 1990s triggered the transformation of the city into a popular spa tourist destination ,just like it was back in the Roman times.
Although Middle Ages are usually considered the "Dark Era" of European thermalism, in Ourense the hot springs remained apprecciated and widely used, as they were a valuable help for the pilgrims on their Way to Santiago de Compostela, only 100 km away.
Nowadays, hundreds of pilgrims doing the Way of Saint of Saint James still make a stop in Ourense to rest in their ancient healing hot waters
Ourense's thermal waters are soft-mineralized, with high amounts of bicarbonate, sodium, fluoride, lithium and sulphur. They acquire their mineral properties through their journey to the surface, as they emerge from deposits of porous granite located up to 1 km underground. They are a source of relaxation and pleasure, but also have therapeutic properties and are indicated for rheumatism, skin and musculoskeletal ailments.
Right in the middle of the Old town, in the historical thermal site of As Burgas, these hot springs, which have been continuously gushing out water for more than 2000 years, are the main landmark of Ourense. The water flows at temperatures of more than 60ºC and are naturally cooled down to allow bathing at the nearby outdoor big thermal pools. These baths, inspired on those used by the former Romans settlers,are perfectly integrated in the urban environment, and provide an unique thermal experience.
The Thermal Route of river Minho is Ourense's most popular landmark, a 5 km landscaped spa park set along the banks of the river, with natural pools filled with hot thermal waters, fountains and two Japanese-inspired spas where to rest and relax while enjoying direct contact with nature.
Water along the route range from 41ºC to 72ºC, available in the riverside pools of Chavasqueira, Outariz,Burga de Canedo and Muiño da Veiga, often full of people long into the night, enjoying the relaxing waters and the cool, peaceful setting
Massages and beauty treatments are also available at the traditional Onsens of Chavasqueira and Outariz, where water in enjoyed in the classic Japanese baths:ofuros, rotenburos, tsumetais... If feeling hungry after the bath you may visit the sushi-bar and have some makis with green tea!
You may not leave Ourense without visiting its Medieval historic centre, an intriguing maze of narrow treets and lively squares with terraces, arcades and beautiful fountains from the Romanesque monasteries of the province. The area is home to some of the most important heriatge buildings, such as the San Martin's Cathedral. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries in late-Romanesque style, it treasures the Gate of Paradise, an stunning sculpture set rich in colours.
Ourense is a dynamic and bustling city that lives on the street. Throughout the whole year there is a busy schedule of arts and culture programmes for all audiences, including theatre in all its forms, classic music, jazz and its International Film Festival taking place in autumn. Special mention should go to its very popular traditional festivals, like the vibrant Carnivals (called Entroido) , the Magostos where you can taste the new wine and the first chestnuts, and the Maios, where the city welcomes the spring filling the streets with moss and flower sculptures..
The river Minho passing through the city and the many bridges crossing it are Ourense most characteristic landscape; from the ancient Roman Old Bridge to the vanguardist Millenium Bridge
The themal fountains of As Burgas are the symbol of the city, mineral springs gushing water at 60ºC, in the place where it is said that the town was born in Roman times
As Burgas thermal pool is a singular spa centre right in the middle of the Historic centre: a place where to relax while disconvering Ourense' Roman history
As Burgas thermal pool
Outariz Spa Centre
The riverside thermal pools of Outariz and Burga de Canedo: hot mineral springs surrounded by nature
The banks of river Minho constitute the city’s great green artery: several kilometres of lush vegetation for walking, running or cycling while admiring nature and the landscape
Muiño da Veiga's thermal pools, just a few of the many scattered along the banks of river Minho
Ourense Major Square has been for centuries the heart of the city
A view of Saint Martin's Catheral, Ourense most significant monument
The Gate of Paradise,within Saint Marthin's Cathedral, it is an exciting symphony of colour built in stone that has welcomed pilgrims since Middle Ages