Iberians in Archena
The Archena Spa is possibly one of the spas with the longest history as its beginnings date back to the 5th century BC, when the Iberian settlers who settled in Archena were the first to use the thermal waters located in the Region of Murcia. The spa became an obligatory stop on the commercial route to the interior of the peninsula to Cástulo, the capital of Turdetania.
Roman Baths in Archena
The Romans discovered the thermal waters (possibly used by the indigenous since immemorial time) and decided to build a Roman Bath.
The thermal waters of Archena always maintained a constant prestige for their medicinal properties, which did not go unnoticed by the Romans, as is shown by the memorial plate found in the complex:
“Caius Cornelius Capito and Lucius Heio Labeo, Duoviros (mayors), were in charge of restoring the aqueducts by a decree of the decurions (municipal council) and they themselves testify (that they did)”
Order of St. John
The complex passed into the hands of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and it was from 1579 when more visits began to occur due to the boom that began to take after the WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Genesis of today's Balneario de Archena
After the War of Independence, King Fernando VII decided to undertake new reforms, fixing the road that connects Archena with the complex and increasing the rooms of the already, at that time, historical reference of the spas in Murcia, also consolidated as one of the main spas in Spain. The improvements made since the Viscount of Rías acquired the property were numerous and important, especially taking into account that between 1850 and 1878 the current configuration of the complex was made.
When in 1850 the complex was disentailed and passed into private hands in the person of Mr. José de Bustos y Castilla, Viscount of Rías, a great urbanistic “revolution” took place in the property.
In 1858 the Hotel León was built, in 1868 the Hotel Termas was inaugurated and around 1898 the Arab decoration that characterizes this hotel was added, as well as the beautiful dome.
At the back of the dome there is a patio of lights also very profusely decorated with neo-Nazari elements. The author of the decoration was Manuel Castaños. The dome is dated and signed by its author on the central capitals on each side of the staircase. 1878 Inauguration of the Hotel Levante.
Chapel to La Virgen de la Salud
The chapel was opened for worship in October 1878 and was built by José Mª Aguilar, an architect from Madrid who also built the Hotel Levante and the Casino.
Inside the chapel we can find the Virgen de la Salud, which was sculpted in 1877 by Salvador Páramo, a sculptor specialized in religious imagery. This virgin has been the patron saint of Archena since 1 April 1939, because both the image and the objects of worship had been placed in a niche in the crypt and were saved from the burning that affected the church. The people then proclaimed it their patron saint. In the triumphal arch there is an oil on canvas painted by Carlos Luís de Ribera (the same author of the frescos in the Congress of Deputies) that represents the probatory pool of Jerusalem.
Opening of the Casino
The decoration of the Casino de Balneario de Archena was also made by Manuel Castaños and has many similarities with the one in Murcia although this one has been made 7 years later. It was originally a gambling casino until it was banned by Primo de Rivera.
Mr. Nicasio Perez
Nicasio Perez stayed at the Fortuna Spa where his wife was relieved of her illness. One day, while driving his car, he arrived at Archena where he discovered a group of buildings painted in shades of green and ochre, stained with the camouflage of the army. It was practically deserted. He found out that for his wife’s ailments, the waters of Archena were better than those of Fortuna, and when he returned to Madrid he contacted its owners, Maria Elio y Gaztelu, Marquesa de Campo Real, and the following year he leased it with an option to buy, which he did three years later.
Nicasio Pérez began to develop the business project of Balnerio de Archena and its hotels. Since then the thermal establishment acquired weight in the national thermalism market, receiving every year clients from all over Spain to benefit from the properties of its famous mineral-medicinal water. In 1958 he built the outdoor swimming pool of thermal water (today it does not exist) that was a pioneer in its moment and a focus of attraction for the clients of the Spa.