A spa, today was recognized to us, is a center for treatments through various alternative medications, and has grown to include relaxation, unwinding, and getting pampered. But why is for an interesting read is the foundation of this culture, and the genesis of the word spa. So, when did the idea of spa – relaxing and getting treated for ailments through water – come into being? Where from achieved it get its present name?
There are myriad answers to these questions but all intertwined in the same theory. Popular belief has it that the foundation of spa goes back to the Roman era, when troops of their legions fatigued by wars, would try rejuvenation, relaxation, and treatment of sore wounds through drinking water. Hot, natural spring water was regarded as the best cure for wounds and tired muscles.
The legionnaires, hence, began building baths around found hot water springs or warm water wells naturally. These baths were popularly known as ‘aquae’, as the treatments undertaken at these algae were called ‘Sanus Per Aquam’ – which SPA is considered to be an acronym – meaning health by or through water. Others think that the spa can be an ellipsis of the Latin phrase ‘Sanitas Per Aquas’, indicating the same.
The Belgian town Spa, which rose to popularity in the 14th century in this context, got its name thus, since a thermal spring having thermal and curative properties was found out there. Another accepted credence is that the term spam is derived from the Walloon (the dialect of the people of Wallonia in south Belgium) word papa, meaning fountain. Alternatively, the origin of the word can also be related to the Latin term ‘spagere’, this means to scatter, sprinkle, or moisten. Social bathing was religiously adhered to as a culture in the historic Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Minoan, Greek, and Roman civilizations.
Among the first to use a variety of baths, the Greeks pioneered the idea of laconic (hot water tubs and heat baths). The Romans used and altered it progressively into balneum and then there (Greek for heat).This spearheaded the culture of public bathing which gained tremendous popularity in the following years.
Even though the first thermae can be traced back to 25 BC, the balneum existed in the Roman society almost 200 years prior to the arrival of thermae. Each succeeding emperor to the Roman throne outdid his forerunner in building more luxurious and spacious baths. Some baths were large to carry about 6000 bathers at the same time enough.
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Subsequent years saw the theme grows into wholesome entertainment complexes where bathers could enjoy sports, leisure, and restaurants in addition to the different paths available. A characteristic bath made up of visits to different chambers for a whole relaxation routine. The bathing ritual began with exercises at the palestra, accompanied by an hour-long program in three warmer rooms beginning with tepidarium significantly, where the bather’s body would be smeared with oils and other organic extracts.
Private bathing rooms called caldariums that offered either hot or cold water would be another in a line. The bather then moved on to laconicum, the latest chamber of the theme, where a vigorous therapeutic massage and dead skin scraping would be completed by using an object called a strigil. The shower would end with a dip in a pool of cool water known as the frigidarium.
After this ritual, the bather could relax in the other areas of the theme indulging in a sumptuous meal, or retiring to the library. Since baths were located in close proximity to natural hot or mineral springs, the Renaissance witnessed towns abundant in natural springs graduating into spa locations. Some examples are that of Spa, Belgium; Paeffers, Switzerland; Baden-Baden Germany;, and Bath, England.