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Balneario de Mondariz

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ABOVE: The historic Fuente de Gándara still serves medically certified mineral water from underground springs. INSET BELOW: The water source's 19th Century façade, and an interior pool in the Palace of Water.

The spa

Fuente de Gándara

photoDozens--perhaps hundreds--of mineral springs surge or trickle through the honeycomb geology of Mondariz, but the most famous is the fuente (source) de Gándara, which was discovered in 1872 and gave birth to the spa.

The Fuente de Gándara, where you can drink water from the spring, is located just behind the spa's Palacio del Acqua (see below), where it faces the old Gran Hotel (now an apartment building) and a public park. The open-sided building--which opened in 1908--has the feeling of a temple with its dome, stone columns, and bronze-and-glass dispensing apparatus atop a marble column.

For a tiny fee, a uniformed attendant will serve you a disposable plastic cup of mineral water that meets ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. For a little more, you can have a bottle filled. (If the attendant is on break, not to worry: Just drop your coin in the cashbox and serve yourself.)

The fuente's water is rich in bicarbonate and other minerals, and it's said to be effective in treating stomach problems, gout, anemia, diabetes, skin diseases, and various other ailments. It has a noticeably "mineral" taste (unlike the Mondariz water that you'd buy in a restaurant or supermarket), so you'll feel virtuous when you drink it even if you don't feel like Lazarus after you've taken a swig.

El Palacio del Acqua

photoThe "Palace of Water" is a recent (and stunning) addition to the Balneario de Mondariz. The three-story stone building, which opened in 2005, has 3,000 square meters of "thermal-leisure activities" beneath a transparent dome. Key features include a waterfall, a large swimming pool, bubble chairs, water-massage seats, a "hydro-massage toadstool," and seven saunas that are heated at different temperatures and humidity levels. (Each sauna has its own adjacent cold-water pool.) You can order natural fruit juices on the terrace overlooking the main pool, or--in warm weather--you can enjoy a thermal pool and a dry sauna outdoors.

Other spa facilities

A Celtic Spa offers a thermal circuit that consists of a shower ("with peeling effect to renovate the skin"), a covered communal bath with water jets to soothe aching or tense muscles and your feet, a Celtic Sauna cave, pressure jets to tighten up your skin and stretch your muscles, and an outdoor Hot and Cold contrast Bath inspired by Japanese thermal culture.

In the passage that connects the hotel's buildings, you'll find a Spa Center that offers a variety of medical and non-medical treatments.

Next page: Hotel and location

In this article:
The spa
Hotel and location
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