Even when on vacation, I can’t help but check out all things spa and wellness related! I love the history of bath houses and thalassotherapy.
The Glanum archeological site near St Rémy de Provence, France is home to the remains of a healing sacred spring as well as ancient Roman Baths so I had to have a look.
The Sacred Spring was an underground cave with water flow and an additional tunnel that channeled wind. The wind created a noise that caused the people in 200 BC to considered it “devine”. They decided the “devine water” must have healing powers so an alter was built around the cave.
Over the years, this alter became more elaborate, eventually with stairs leading down to the water and treatment areas surrounding it.
Roman solders would travel from all over to receive treatments with the “devine water” for gout and other illnesses. They often stayed at Glanum for months and it was customary to leave a gift of a carved stone pillar in exchange for treatment. These pillars often included engravings of legs which led historians to figure out the water was used to treat disorders of the legs.
Next to the Sacred Spring, there are stone slabs (ancient massage tables) thought to have been used for massage and water treatments. The indent near the top held oil for the treatment.
Around 75BC Glanum became a popular destination for its Roman Bath house. The bath house was for rest and relaxation, not just healing purposes like the spring. Men used a mixture of sand and olive oil to exfoliate their skin before soaking in the pools of water.
The history is fascinating and the site is beautiful. I recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!