Assembly Great Spa Towns of Europe: A Convergence of Culture and Conservation

The Great Spa Towns of Europe convened in Bad Kissingen, Germany, for their General Assembly, coinciding with the International Day for Monuments and Sites. The event focused on heritage conservation, strategic planning for 2024, and reinforcing historical ties through discussions on peace and cultural significance.

Bad Kissingen, Spa
Bad Kissingen, Arkadenbau (c) Bayer. Staatsbad Bad Kissingen GmbH_Foto Heji Shin

This week, the picturesque town of Bad Kissingen, Germany, served as the gathering point for members of the Great Spa Towns of Europe (GSTE) Association. The assembly, which drew attendees for a series of meetings and site visits, was graciously hosted by Dr. Dirk Vogel, Lord Mayor of Bad Kissingen.

The GSTE’s General Assembly aligned with the International Day for Monuments and Sites, providing a profound backdrop for discussions centered on the historic and pacific role of spa towns in Europe. Stefan Szirucsek, Mayor of Baden bei Wien and Chair of the GSTE, highlighted the significance of these towns in fostering peace and reconciliation throughout European history. “Our towns have been sanctuaries of peace and meeting grounds for pivotal European alliances,” Szirucsek noted, underscoring the heritage sites as venues where historical figures once sought respite and diplomatic neutrality.

Urban planning
The assembly also delved into the critical issues of urban planning and heritage conservation in the face of global environmental challenges. Discussions were particularly poignant given the day’s thematic focus on “Disasters & Conflicts Through the Lens of the Venice Charter,” celebrated by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites). This charter, a cornerstone document written sixty years ago, underscores the importance of preserving monuments both as art and historical evidence.

Chiara Ronchini, Secretary General of GSTE, connected these themes to the day’s proceedings: “Our assembly’s timing and themes beautifully coincide with those of the International Day for Monuments and Sites. Today, more than ever, it is crucial to recognize and plan for external pressures that could impact the Outstanding Universal Value of our sites.”

Workshop for site managers
The event also included a specialized workshop for site managers and municipal planning officials from the eleven GSTE towns. This workshop, focusing on “World Heritage and pressures: Assessing potential impacts on our property,” is part of a broader initiative to equip those on the ground with the skills needed to protect these invaluable sites.

In addition to formal meetings, participants enjoyed guided tours of Bad Kissingen’s significant sites, including the Regentenbau ensemble and the Brunnenhalle, where the tradition of mineral water tasting continues to be a highlight.

The GSTE’s ongoing commitment to maintaining the integrity and value of these historic spa towns was evident throughout the assembly’s discussions and activities, which aimed not only to celebrate but also to strategize on safeguarding this unique cultural phenomenon.

The Great Spa Towns of Europe is a serial, transnational World Heritage Site, comprising 11 famous historic thermal spa towns and cities in seven countries.

This article was originally published in English. Texts in other languages are AI-translated. To change language: go to the main menu above.