Centro Termal Santa Maria

THE ABANDONED SPA RESORT IN PORTUGAL


This is the abandoned ‘Centro Termal Santa Maria’, a Portuguese spa resort built near a hot spring. It was one of the oldest spa resorts in Portugal. The institute was specialized in the treatment of respiratory, dermatological as well as rheumatic conditions.

The spring was considered as one of the best mineral waters of the country and even of Europe. In fact it was discovered by a doctor from Porto in 1820. He used the spring water to cure patients with several illnesses. A medical publication in 1854 drew the attention of some doctors. Eventually the first spa was built in 1867.

The Santa Maria spa has a bathhouse with 12 thermal baths. Firstly six baths with tiled tubs, secondly five with cement tubs and finally one bath with a zinc tub. There is also a hotel, built in 1894 with beautiful granite façade. Furthermore the site also has a chapel that used to be full with canes and crutches that belonged to the cured patients.

The resort is surrounded and protected by pine forests and has exceptional sea climate without wind or fog and therefore a steady temperature. The water from the source was 22 degrees, in the spa it was heated to bath temperature in boilers by burning wood and later coal. The state subsidized housing and treatments at a spa. Workers had a 15-day leave to go to a spa all year round.

The Queiroz family

Doctor Aurelio Augusto Queiroz bought the site in 1902. His son, Mário Queiroz was the pioneer in the insertion of physiotherapy in thermal spas. He found that physiotherapy with hydrotherapy gave excellent results. After he died in 1976 the spa was taken over by his son, the rheumatologist António Queiroz. He was the third of the family leading the spa.

Unable to run the whole spa, Antonio decided to close the hotel, opening only the spa every year in the high season. As a result business went bad, so he presented a project for the construction of a three-star hotel in 1990. But the spa got in trouble when a factory was built that polluted the waters. A court process dragged on for several years. As a result it was the first spa in the country that had its protection zone. The goal was to maintain water quality.

New plans to built a luxury hotel were made in 2005, but because of financial problems the Queiroz family had to sell the resort. But also the new owner didn’t manage to rebuilt the site to its old glory. I visited the Centro Termal resort in 2018. Follow this link for more abandoned resorts.

Built 1894
Abandoned 2010
Endangered
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