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The History of Spas

Date: 2nd November 2017
Author: Sarah Twist
Publisher: Darwin Escapes
Health & Beauty

We thought we would look back at how spa’s actually started…

Spas have been popular in some form or another for centuries, our current spa habits are vastly different from ancient times with two major cultures influencing us and changing the way we view bathing and relaxation.

Ancient Greeks

Photo Credit: Terence Pucci

The earliest writings of western bathing and spa practices date back to ancient Greece, they formed the foundation of our modern spa procedures. With the findings of bathing facilities in Knossos and luxurious bathtubs in Santorini, these are the earliest findings of bathing facilities, with both dating back to the mid-2nd millennium BC.

The ancient Greeks also established shower and bathing facilities in gymnasiums, for relaxation and personal hygiene, as well as building facilities around sacred pools and the Spartans developing one of the first vapour bathing rooms, similar to our steam rooms.

The Romans

Photo Credit: Peter Leigh

The Roman Empire changed the way the world worked on many levels and they surpassed the Greeks in the size and scale of the baths and bathing facilities. Although emulating the Greeks, bathing playing a mmuch larger role in Roman culture and society, becoming the most common daily activity, as well as being practiced across social classes.

The Romans enjoyed spending social time at the thermae and public baths, they were used as gathering places and were more than just a large bath. The bathing houses included hot and cold pools, towels, steam rooms, saunas, hair salons, reading rooms and libraries, there were gyms, lecture halls and even formal gardens all under one roof!

The waters were also used for health reasons, the thermal waters helped to relieve suffering from rheumatism, arthritis and even an over indulgence of food and drink. Bathing facilities were so popular during Roman times that every major city had at least one thermae bath and Rome had 952 baths throughout the city!

These ancient thermae spas and the bathing rituals undertaken, including bathing, a massage with oils and resting after, they have all served to influence our modern day spas.

What does all this mean I hear you ask? It means that over the centuries we have lost the social and emotional benefit of spending time at a spa. Bathing for both the ancient Greeks and Romans was of great importance, they understood the health benefits and enjoyed the relaxing environment it created.

Book your spa day and re-learn what it means to really relax!

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