07/08/2017

Mondariz, cradle of the thermalism in the Belle Époque

THE MONDARIZ SPA RESORT

If there is something that has managed to position Galicia as one of the most valued destinations nationally and internationally, it is its waters, signs of identity of its landscape. In addition to being an element of biological and landscape richness, Galician waters are a source of health. The thermalism is, for a century, an important claim for all those who wish to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the liquid element. The history of thermalism in Galicia has been intimately linked to a hotel and thermal complex: the Mondariz.

History

The origins of the Balneario de Mondariz (Pontevedra) dates back to the seventies of the nineteenth century, at which time the mineral waters of the sources Fuente del Troncoso, Gandara and Sabuxans were declared of public utility. The discovery of these three sources came from the brothers Peinador Vela, founders of this thermal villa, and the priest Domingo Laxe. The original structure of the current thermal complex of Mondariz consisted solely of a building, with a floor to enjoy the waters and another for rooms. This architectural simplicity of its beginnings was not enough for the growing number of visitors. This great influx was what led to the construction of the Gran Hotel Spa, which took place during the last decade of the nineteenth century under the direction of the architect Genaro de la Fuente.

Mondariz
The peculiarity that distinguished it from other constructions with similar ends was the sophistication of its structure and decoration. While the architecture of other establishments more closely resembled convents and hospitals, the Hotel Mondariz reminiscent of the French palaces of the time of Louis XIV. Despite their Gallic influences, the materials came, in their entirety, from Spanish industries. The steps, porticoes, galleries of the thermal village soon began to acquire a protagonism that would last decades.


The then innovative hydrotherapy techniques attracted the attention of the most illustrious characters of the Belle Époque in the 20’s of the last century. The visits of Isaac Peral, John Rockefeller II, Isabel de Borbón or the archbishop of Westminster, turned Mondariz into social and cultural center of the moment. The resort competed in fame with other major resorts such as Baden-Baden in Germany or Bath in the United Kingdom. Some of the most relevant writers of the moment, such as Emilia Pardo Bazán, José Echegaray or Benito Pérez-Galdós, reported in their chronicles of this time of splendor of the complex. The spa was also a witness to political meetings such as those led by Miguel Primo de Rivera and the Portuguese Prime Minister Arthur Ivens Ferraz in 1929. The photograph shows the visit of the Infanta Isabel in 1915.

Recovery

After the Civil War, the complex was immersed in a decline caused by a fall in the number of visitors, a weakening that culminated with the fire of the Great Hotel in the year 1973. The rehabilitation of the complex did not take place until the first decade Of the 21st century, when a group of entrepreneurs led by Javier Solano Rodriguez-Losada, managed to restore the splendor that had once made the spa an international benchmark. This restoration was the objective of distinctions among which are the prize Best Spa in Spain in 2005 and 2006; Best Accommodation in Galicia in 2007 and the Best Spa in Spain according to Condé Nast Traveler.

The Mondariz thermal baths, which were originally born for purely therapeutic purposes, have adapted to the new times by adding activities aimed at aesthetics or sport. Among the spa offerings are a la carte treatments, a thermal circuit based on Celtic tradition, natural cosmetics, an 18-hole golf course and even an area dedicated to the smallest of the house called ‘Mondariz Kids’ .