Water, Pilgrimages and Spirituality

February 2, 2018

Hospitality in Europe is deeply rooted at the healing sources of spa towns, places devoted to the well-being of locals and visitor whose mineral springs were, in ancient times, considered sacred and divine; a Nature's gift named to heal and to be shared.

For a long time people believed that the miraculous therapeutical nature of hot mineral springs was linked to the presence of water deities, turning spa towns into places of pilgrimage where visitors were always welcomed and comforted. This ancient sense of hospitality persists and evolves trough the history of European thermalism, setting the foundations for the development of modern tourism and the first public health systems, and it is still a main feauture in spa towns, always reinventing as healing well-being places for humanity.

The City Council of Ourense organized this second Café of Europe as part of the SOURCE project, gathering international experst who explored our relationship with water throughout history, an ancient element of cult but at the same time a tool for healing body and mind.


The Café served as a prelude for Termatalia, the International Exhibition of Thermal Tourism, Health and Wellness that every two years is held in Ourense (alternating with Latin America),acting a cooperation bridge between Europe and the rest of the world for the development of thermalism.

1st Round Table

Water and Cults in the Ancient Times

Water is synonym of spirituality in the Ancient Times, an element that connects the human and the divine. In Europe, water deities used to linked the old indigenous beliefs with the new foreigner ones, those which came with the Roman conquerors, transforming this cult and arising new meanings. All the historical baths that are spreaded across Europe are still witnesses of this transformation and therefore, its study, conservation and divulgation becomes a challenge for these cities; in order to throw some lights on the past so it could light our present.

Moderator: Jose María Eguileta

Water Deities in Roman and Pre-Roman Hispania
Study, Conservation and Recovery of Historic Baths
2nd Round Table

Bath and Pilgrimages: from the Middle Ages until today

There are two cities in Europe that religion and history turned into pillars of the continent. Santiago de Compostela, at the western end , is the fi nal destination of several ways that since the Middle Ages spread all through European geography; and Rome, in the heart of Italy, connect with Canterbury through a huge diagonal known by their travellers as the “Via Francigena”. Thousands of pilgrims walk these roads every years, and their travels have already become a key part of our European cultural identity. Thermal cities take also part in this history of pilgrimages, as these are the place where wanderers stop to rest their body and minds, places of peace and serenity.

Moderator: Jose Luis Rodríguez Cid

3rd Round Table

Thermalism in the 21st Century:
New ways of dialogue and wellness

It is said that spa industry is living now in the 21st Century its second Golden Era. In a global society which get quicker and more and more changeable it is true that thermal cities have known how to master the big challenges of our time in order to turn water, once again, into a central element of human life. We present here examples that set the guidelines for the new paths thermal industry must follow in the future : wellness, preventive medicine and active life, environment care and relationships, intercultural dialogue, the recovery of the past through memory and heritage...


Travel Diaries - Photographs - Video

Luis Ruiz Padrón

Architector · Illustrator · Urban Sketcher

Architect and educator born and based in Málaga, Spain. He also works as a freelance illustrator and has carried out sketching workshops in different universities, schools of art and symposiums.

In his books he captures the architecture and life of the places he travels to but also everyday’s activity in his own environment; they have been exhibited at different events in Canada, France, Italy and Spain.

He is the founder of an active local community of sketchers and the correspondent of his city for urbansketchers artists. Urban Sketchers (USk) is a non-profit-making association which highlight the artistic, narrative and educational value of the "in situ" drawing, which promotes and creates links between drawers all over the world, whether at home or traveling.

Loiez Deniel

Video & Photo Artist

Loiez Déniel lives and works in Auvergne (and sometimes Istanbul). Video maker photographer artist, independent researcher in multimedia integration solutions and operational poetry, he is also president of the International Video Art Festival VIDEOFORMES.

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