The 4th international exchange of experience session gathered the partners and stakeholders of the InnovaSPA project in the Norte Region of Portugal. They attended three days of interesting study visits at thermal SPAs in the sub-regions of Tâmega e Sousa and Alto Tâmega.
The event was hosted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto between 24 - 26 of September 2019 and started in Penafiel with a session of presentations highlighting the thermal ecosystem and SPA science in Portugal, the current developments of therapeutic SPAs and the official SPA treatments practiced in Portugal.
The itinerary of the study visit included:
- Termas de Caldas de Aregos (Resende), a thermal Spa recognized for the medicinal value of its natural waters, captured at 62ºC, which for centuries of history have worked miracles for those who seek there what is the most precious social and individual value: Health!.
- Termas de São Vicente (Penafiel), a Spa well known for the added value of its quality waters, discovered by the Romans in the year 315 AD. The spa developed during the years offering several Spa treatments.
- Termas de Amarante (Amarante), a Spa open for the public in January 2019. The Spa has the capacity of providing Spa treatments for a maximum of 60 people per day.
- Chaves Termas & SPA (Chaves) have a millenary tradition dating back to the Roman Empire. Integrated in the urban center of Chaves, they combine the virtues of water with a natural landscape that invites you to rest and discover nature. Especially hot springs and a unique thermal complex make Chaves a well-known city, a place that thermalists and tourists seek for the power of its thermal water! Natural sources of hot mineral water (76ºC) are the pillars of Chaves - Termas & SPA, which has become internationally famous thanks to its advanced and diversified treatment methods.
One of the most interesting Good Practices shared during the study visit in Norte Region was the “Thermal and Water Route of Chaves-Verín Eurocity”, a project originally approved within the Spain-Portugal Cross-border Cooperation Operative Program 2007-2013 (Interreg POCTEP), and reapproved in its current version (2014-2020), under the name “Eurocidade2020”. The areas of Chaves-Verín have the greatest concentration of thermal water and mining-medicinal springs of Europe (eleven, in total, within a “line” of 40 km). In this context, the “Thermal and Water Route of Chaves-Verín Eurocity” was created as a route that connects the spa heritage of Verín with those in Chaves and Vidago, linking the main spring, Spas and thermal waters of the area of Eurocity, continuing and shaping a global route within the geographical limits of this Euroregion (Alto Tâmega – Norte / Ourense – Galicia). The route combines the circular urban routes of both municipalities with a cycle-tourist route that follows along the river Tâmega. The urban routes of Verín Chaves and Vidago show the historical, natural and cultural heritage.
According to the Portuguese law “Thermalism represents the use of mineral natural waters and other complementary healing factors and techniques in cure, prevention of diseases, rehabilitation, health promotion or wellbeing”.
The national legal framework is provided by The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic Affairs in Portugal. According to the law, the civil servants, state employees, government employees and officials benefit from a maximum of 2 cures per year (minimum 12 days of medical Spa treatments).
The National Health System reimburses 35% of the treatments costs, up to a limit of € 95.00 per day. The official Spa treatments are: Rheumatology, Respiratory, Skin, Digestive, Metabolism, Circulatory, Nervous system, Gynecology, Neuro-urology, Blood.
From 42 Thermal SPAs in Portugal, 23 are located in the Norte Region (19 SPAs are active and 4 are inactive).