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Bad Kissingen , state bath and former world bath , with the Franconian Saale and Europe's largest foyer , on the right Hotel Kaiserhof Victoria

A health resort is a municipality or part of a municipality that has been given an appropriate rating due to its particular suitability for medical therapy (e.g. as part of a cure ) . Health resorts in which water cures ( bath cure or drinking cure ) are practiced are also known as bathing resorts . Health resorts on the coast are known as seaside resorts . Due to the quality of the air, places can also be awarded climatic health resorts

A health resort is characterized by the presence of natural remedies from the soil, water or the climate or the possibility of physiotherapy, e.g. B. after Kneipp .

Health resorts are an important economic factor worldwide. In Germany alone , around 400,000 people directly and indirectly employed in health resorts generate an annual turnover of over 30 billion euros (2013).


Health resort, Hungary, 1939
Kurhaus Bad Steben from 1911
"Health resort - please rest!"
(Bavarian lion in a white and blue bathtub)

Hot vapors, mineral and thermal springs for therapeutic purposes were already widely used by the Romans , who built therapeutic baths and the like. a. Aquae Sulis (today: Bath ), Aquae Arnementiae (today: Buxton ), Aquae Granni (today: Aachen ), Aquae Mattiacorum (today: Wiesbaden ), Aquae (today: Baden-Baden ), Aquae Helveticae (today: Baden AG ), Aquae Cutiliae (today: Terme di Cotilia ).

In 1581 the balneological work Neuw Wasserschatz by the botanist and physician Tabernaemontanus was published , who is therefore considered the founder of German health resorts such as Bad Schwalbach . In 1632 Johann Nopp published early medical bathing rules in Aachen in his work Aacher Chronick, which is a short, historical description of all antiques and stories worth remembering, as well as privileges and statutes added to sampt .

The first modern bathing or health resorts emerged in the 18th century in Spa in Belgium and in England for the upper and middle classes . The physician Richard Russell (1687–1759), who studied the health benefits of seawater and was one of the pioneers of thalassotherapy , had a decisive influence on British bathing culture . Examples from this period are Bath , Brighton , Buxton and Harrogate .

From the 19th century this development was carried over to mainland Europe . The Baltic seaside resorts in Mecklenburg such as Heiligendamm , the Bohemian health resorts of Karlsbad , Kyselka and Marienbad , the Nassau health resorts of Wiesbaden, Schlangenbad , Bad Schwalbach and Bad Ems (see Bäderstraße Taunus ) or the Austrian health resorts of Bad Ischl , Meran or Bad Gastein soon became the meeting point of the upscale society. In the 19th century, spas also sprang up in Russia, a famous example being Sochi .

In Japan, hot springs ( onsen ) were used for bathing from an early age ; After the country opened up in the 19th century, health resorts that are popular tourist destinations today, such as Beppu , were established in some places with these springs based on the western model .


The term “Weltbad” became established for the historical fashion and spa baths that were internationally leading in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They differ from other health resorts mainly in the following criteria:

  • Amusement offers: The social life in a world bath is at least as important as the medical treatment, if not more important. A world bath offered spa guests a wide range of opportunities to spend their free time, such as exercise and sport, excursions in the surrounding area, theater and concerts, library and games.
  • Guests: The Weltbad was attractive to guests from all five continents. Special attention was given to prominent visitors who attracted further visitors, especially from the nobility and the upper class. Various wealthy population groups interacted across class boundaries in a cosmopolitan, informal atmosphere, which was used for business initiation and diplomatic negotiations.
  • Architecture: There are spa, villa and supply districts, gardens and parks with a smooth transition into the surrounding landscape.
  • Infrastructure and supply: Despite the small number of residents, a world bath offered guests all contemporary comforts that were not even common in all large cities at the time. This includes good transport connections, communication options (such as telegraphy and telephone up to date), a luxurious range of goods, differentiated hotels and restaurants as well as the latest technology, for example with regard to energy supply or water supply and sewage disposal.

Several of these traditional spas are striving to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the name Great Spas of Europe .

Types of spas

In Germany the following predicates will be awarded:

Recreation areas , seaside resorts and tourist communities are not health resorts, but are also recognized by the state.


In Germany, it is recognized as a health resort (also known as “rating”) by the responsible ministry in the respective federal state. The basis is regularly a law (“Kurortegesetz”) or (in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein) an ordinance , possibly supplemented by decrees. Recognition bases exist in all German territorial states. The recognition can refer to a municipality or a part of the municipality.

All territorial states refer to the definitions - quality standards for the rating of health resorts, recreation areas and healing fountains of the German Health Baths Association. V. and the German Tourism Association e. V. implicitly or explicitly in the predication.

In most federal states, state recognition as a health resort or recreation area is a prerequisite for collecting the health resort tax ( visitor's tax ) and tourism tax .

Spa remedies and spa medicine

The therapeutic measures during a cure, for example baths, massages or inhalations , are called cure products . Many health resorts, in which the therapeutic products are offered in health resorts or spa hotels, also have their own health resort store . These houses are or were usually operated by the municipalities or the federal states in order to use therapeutic agents in a controlled manner and to establish a corresponding standard on site. One example of this is the Kurmittelhaus in Bad Reichenhall , which was built in 1928 and still exists today.

Health resorts are centers of excellence in both medical and therapeutic care. In addition to the usual medical training , the spa doctors have in-depth knowledge of local natural healing methods (local remedies ) and have appropriate experience with these applications. The therapists are usually specialized. Thus, under certain circumstances, greater healing success can be achieved during the spa stays than at home. In addition, the spa infrastructure is usually designed so that guests can do a lot for their health.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Health resorts are pillars of the health economy ( memento of the original from December 1, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Insurance Industry Today, June 23, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Weltbad Kissingen, Bad Kissingen In: , accessed on February 13, 2018.
  3. Andreas Förderer: Characteristics of the “spa town” type. (PDF; 3.97 MB) Comparative study “Playgrounds Europe”: European spa towns and fashion spas of the 19th century. In: 2010, accessed on February 13, 2018 (p. 33 ff., Summary p. 102).
  4. Great Spas of Europe - UNESCO World Heritage Center In: , accessed on February 13, 2018. (English)

Web links

Wiktionary: Kurort  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Spas  - Collection of images, videos and audio files