Water is not only important for hydration, however, but can have many therapeutic benefits.
As we all know, water plays a vital part in keeping the body functioning properly, and now that summer is approaching and temperatures are rising, we need to stay hydrated, as 70% of our body is made up of this precious liquid. If we want to enjoy good physical health and wellness, we need to stay hydrated.
Water is not only important for hydration, however, but can have many therapeutic benefits. Here we’re talking about thermal water, which contains a high concentration of minerals that flow up from inside the earth and provide amazing benefits for our bodies and overall wellness. This includes improving digestion, reducing bloating caused by stomach gases, relieving menstrual pain or menopausal discomfort, not to mention all the benefits for our skin. Want to find out more about this therapeutic water and where it springs from? Then read on!
Let’s take a journey through the history and secrets of the thermal waters of Girona, starting with one of its best-known towns: Caldes de Malavella. More specifically, we’ll head to Sant Grau hill, where the thermal waters have been famed since Roman times and there are more than two thousand years of history linked to water and its therapeutic uses.
One fun fact about these thermal springs is that, besides hygiene and social gathering, they were used primarily for health reasons. The Romans were quick to discover the healing properties of the waters of this land, which they christened Aqvae Calidae. On their way through the Iberian Peninsula following the Via Augusta, they stopped to relax in Caldes before reaching Gerunda (present-day Girona). Today, on the site of the city’s first hospital in the heart of the Old Town are the Aqva Roman Baths, a centre devoted to the time-honoured ritual and liturgy tradition of “Mens sana in corpore sano”. A definite must!
Girona. Javi Cabrera.
Another popular place is the Vichy Catalan Spa Resort, which was built on one of the town’s natural thermal springs, called Puig de les Ànimes. It was the brainchild of Modest Furest i Roca, a doctor specialising in hydrotherapy, homeopathy and social hygiene. Before building the spa that today stands as the brand’s visual focal point, Furest built a bottling plant so that visitors could take home the carbonated, alkaline, and lithium- and fluoride-rich water in a beautiful glass container. Did you know?
Caldes de Malavella. Karel Noppe.
Continuing along the route, our next stop is Girona, where there are also many relics of times when water did not simply flow from the tap.
Girona is located at the confluence of four rivers – the Ter, the Onyar, the Güell and the Galligants – and the Romans built a whole system of cisterns and pipes to supply water to the city.
Girona. Alex Tremps.
Among the most characteristic and emblematic places in Girona Old Town are the Arab baths, which despite their name were built and used by the city’s Christians and Jews between the 12th and 14th centuries. There are various rooms at different temperatures: the Apodyterium (changing rooms), the Frigidarium (cold room), the Tepidarium (warm room), the Caldarium (hot room) and the Furnus (furnace and boiler).
Although it’s not one of the oldest, it is one of the most popular thermal springs in Caldes de Malavella, with water at a temperature of around 60°C. At the end of the 19th century, its water was channelled to the bathhouses and also supplied the town’s public washing places. Later it was bottled under the brand names “Agua del Balneario Prats” and “Fuente Cataluña” and today is marketed as “Malavella” water. People from all over the region queue up to drink its water, which is renowned for its properties.
This is one of the many other springs in Caldes de Malavella, but it’s known for being a thermal spring, with water at around 60°C that was long used by local residents for domestic consumption. However, in 1870, after being declared medicinal water, it began to be marketed under the name “Sant Narcís” and became the property of the Pla i Deniel family.
Last but not least is Els Bullidors, a thermal spring that supplied the Roman baths. The water comes out at a temperature of 56°C and, because of the spring’s location, it is believed to be the original source of water used to fill the ancient Roman baths. However, in 1902, the spring water began to be marketed under the trade name “Vichy Caldense” before later becoming “Aigua Xala”. Ten years after that, in 1921, it was definitively renamed “Agua Imperial”.