There is little literary documentation about the tradition of thermal springs in Europe, but it is known that the activity developed in France in the 19th century due to the affirmation of new consumer and wellbeing values amongst the emerging bourgeoisie, in a sign of contention for the social status of the old aristocracy. Whilst it quickly became a popular leisure activity, the only way to ensure its survival in France was to instil it with a more medical approach.
A long-time follower of French trends in many ways, Portugal followed the French model. Although there was already a thermal spring tradition in Portugal that dates back to Roman occupation, it was only at the turn of the 20th century that the great Portuguese thermal baths were really developed.
Similar to what had occurred in France, the facilities were most popular with the bourgeoisie, as well as viscounts and barons, who would also visit their hotels, palaces and casinos. Here, luxury and leisure went hand-in-hand with health and treatment, although the therapies weren’t always the most sumptuous: mud baths, sulphuric waters and its smell, and nasal irrigation are just a few examples.
Under the watchful eye of clinical director Cândida Abranches Monteiro, the centre provides doctors with different specialities, which include otolaryngology, dermatology and physiotherapy to accompany the various areas, as the treatments are only given with medical prescription.