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Balneario de Mondariz

Galicia, Spain


ABOVE: An aerial view of Balneario de Mondariz, with the Palace of Water on the left side of the road and the four-star hotel complex on the right. INSET BELOW: El Palacio del Aqua and its outdoor pool, and a sign in the Fuente de Gándara that lists the water's mineral content and medical properties.

photoAqua de Mondariz has been prized for its mineral and medicinal properties for centuries--and possibly since Roman times. In the late 19th Century, the Balneario de Mondariz in Galicia's Tea River Valley was developed into an international spa that attracted tourists and health-seekers from throughout Spain, Europe, and the world.

The tiny village and its 52 recorded mineral springs became the hub of a spa complex that included grand hotels, fountains where guests could take the waters, and thermal baths for patients who suffered from stomach, intestinal, cardiovascular, urinary, and metabolic complaints.

photoAqua de Mondariz was bottled and distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula, and bottles of Mondariz water (with their distinctive blue, gold, and white labels) continue to be staple items in Spanish restaurants and home refrigerators more than 100 years later.

The Spanish Civil War brought hard times to the Balneario de Mondariz, and the Great Hotel--the most important of the spa's guest establishments--was destroyed by fire in 1973. Today, after renovation of several other hotel and spa buildings, the Balneario de Mondariz is again prospering: not just as a health spa, but also as a residential resort for well-heeled Spaniards.

Today's amenities for guests include a four-star hotel (Balneario de Mondariz), a "Palace of Water" with thermal leisure activities, a "Celtic Spa" that includes a cave sauna and an outdoor communal bath, an 18-hole golf course, and the Fuente de Gándara, the 19th Century mineral-water source where women in pharmacists' smocks offer water by the glass or bottle in a colonnaded stone building above a subterranean spring.

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