Timeline of Spa History



3100 BCE - 300 BCE

water therapy + herbal remedies


1800 BCE - 1500 BCE

bathing in rivers
application of hot + cold compresses

Chinese medicine

1000 BCE

earliest writings on Chinese medicine


700 BCE - 200 BCE

Greeks practice cold water bathing for Spartan warriors

Steam + mud baths

600 BCE - 300 BCE

Persians introduce steam + mud baths

Water treatments

300 BCE

Greeks introduce water treatments to the Roman Empire

Dead Sea

200 BCE

Hebrews practice purification ritual by water through immersion in the Dead Sea


100 BCE

Thailand's tradition of massage + healing dates from the time Buddhism first arrived in Thailand from India

Bath Spa

76 CE

Romans build a principal spa in Bath (Aquae Sulis) in Britain


211 CE

Romans discover thermal spring in Baden-Baden Germany

Turkish Baths

800 CE

Ottoman Empire builds Turkish baths

Spa Spring

1326 CE

spring discovered at Spa, Belgium

First shower

1336 CE

First 'shower' developed in baths of Bormio in Italy

Nudity profane

1449 CE

Bishop of Bath proclaims nude mixed bathing profanes God's 'holy gift of water'
Bathers made to wear smocks

England Baths Closed

1536 CE - 1540 CE

Henry VIII of England closes hot baths + holy wells do to Catholicism


1669 CE

Natural Bathes by Tomas Guiddot, lists the minerals contained in water for first time


1750 CE

Dr. Richard Russell of Brighton publishes 'De Tabe Glanduri" where he claims "The sea washes away all evils of mankind"
First recognition of thalassotherapy

Swedish massage

1806 CE

Modern massage techniques (Swedish massage) developed by Swedish physiologist Per Henrick Ling

Pleasure Resort

1826 CE

first US 'pleasure resort' opens in Saratoga New York

First Modern Hydrotherapy Spa

1829 CE

Vincent Priessnitz establishes first modern hydrotherapy spa with health package treatments involving fresh air, cold water, diet + exercise in Graefenberg Germany

Institute of Hydrotherapy

1861 CE

Dr William Winternitz (father of scientific hydrotherapy) opens a clinic + Institute of Hydrotherapy in Vienna, Austria

Massage as Rehabilitation

1870 CE

by Dutch doctor
accepted by Germany + US

Hydrotherapy for the poor

1880 CE

Father Sebastian Kneipp starts practicing hydrotherapy for the benefit of the poor in Germany

Hubbard Tank : Exercise in Water

1924 CE

first facility for remedial exercise in water - Hubbard Tank - developed by orthopaedic surgeon L.W. Hubbard

* World War II

1939 CE

WWII shifted focus of spas to medical treatment of soldiers
Change from ancient to modern/contemperary

Post WWII - decline of medical use of spas


Post WWII saw decline of medical use of spas
Now put $ in development of science + medicine