This week in our Time Travel series, we’re relaxing our way through the history of spas.
Bathing in mineral water originated as a spiritual practice within a number of religious factions around the world. Early civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans and Turks built large public bathhouses, adding a social benefit to good hygiene. During the middle ages, people started establishing resorts along mineral springs, which were being recognized for medicinal as well as spiritual properties—the first of these resorts debuted in Spa, Belgium.
Several centuries later, scientists investigated the curative properties of spring water, revitalizing the spa’s role. Facilities were constructed around long-utilized waters, such as the springs in Bath, Somerset and Warm Springs, Arkansas, and spa procedures merged with the burgeoning tourism industry. Today, spas are tailored to fit a variety of lifestyles, preferences and populations.
Flip through the gallery above to see how spas have changed over thousands of years.
Sarra Sedghi is a freelancer based in Athens, Ga.