Cast iron décor in 19th-20th century spa towns

Why dedicate a monograph to the principal European spas? Not, obviously, to analyse the features of the waters and draw conclusions as to the pathologies for which they were recommended. The presence of a source of water with therapeutic properties led to the birth of a town, intended not least to host all those who came to obtain benefit from its thermal cures. What made these towns “special”, above all, was their urban development around the turn of the 20th century.

The guiding principles behind these transformations can be summed up in two key words: wellbeing and beauty. To facilitate access to the waters, and even more to create a context where people would be fully at their ease, the use of large structures and décor in cast iron was fundamental. Such structures are more often present in thermal centres than in any other type of town. Unique artefacts, some still extant, others not, reproduced in period postcards and conserved in the Archive of the Neri Foundation, are displayed in this magazine. Images that bear witness to the way in which these centres for thermal cures were also able to provide relaxation and entertainment, encouraging social aggregation and thereby delineating what was to become the concept of the holiday.



The architecture of spa towns

France and Middle Europe: the added value of cast iron

Past and present: Italian watering places

Climatic resorts: the case of Opatija

The preservation of cast iron artifacts in thermal towns