City in line for second heritage honour

The gilded letters spell out that water is best!

Keep your fingers crossed as Bath could soon be getting a major boost to its prestige at a time when it needs every means of attracting visitors.

The city is in line to receive a second coveted UNESCO World Heritage inscription for its international importance to spa culture and architecture.

The Pump Room fountain supplying spa water for drinking.

The city is part of Great Spas of Europe, a group of eleven spa towns across seven countries that have been nominated to UNESCO for inscription on the World Heritage List.

The 44th UNESCO World Heritage Committee is meeting in Fuzhou, China in July to make a decision on the Great Spas of Europe‘s bid to join the list.

The nomination highlights the importance of spa culture and architecture as a European phenomenon from 1700 to the 1930’s. Amongst hundreds of spas a handful of these, including Bath, remain in a good state of conservation.

The Great Spas of Europe project is supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council and is an international collaboration led by the Czech Republic and including the State Parties of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the UK. 

If the bid is successful, Bath’s second inscription would come in addition to the first inscription gained in 1987.

Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, said: “This is very promising news. It has taken over ten years of work to progress The Great Spas Project to this point and whilst we are not across the finish line yet, it is firmly within sight. This accolade would further confirm that the heritage of Bath is acknowledged to be of global importance.”

Councillor Ruth Malloy, the council’s representative for the Great Spas of Europe project, said: “To be inscribed once as a World Heritage Site is very special but twice is exceptional. Bath has always been an international City and this project is an exemplar of successful European collaboration. With the new Bath World Heritage Centre due to open in September, the timing of this news is excellent.”

The eleven historic spa towns are Baden bei Wien (Austria), Spa (Belgium), Františkovy Lázně, Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně (Czech Republic), Vichy (France), Bad Ems, Bad Kissingen, Baden-Baden (Germany), Montecatini Terme (Italy), and City of Bath (UK). For more information on the nomination file, please visit https://greatspasofeurope.org/.

The UNESCO Committee papers are available here (pages 18-19).