The town of Harrogate made its name as a fashionable Victorian spa town. The buildings of central Harrogate reflect this heritage, with many examples of fine 19th century architecture. The Royal Pump Room stands over the main mineral spring.
The mineral-rich natural springs were discovered in the 16th century. By the following century people began coming to Harrogate to 'take the waters' and drink the iron-bearing 'chalybeate' water. By the Georgian period Harrogate was known as 'The English Spa', and it was the stream of ill, and wealthy, people coming in search of health that made Harrogate such a prosperous place and contributed to the wealth of impressive civic architecture that makes it such a pleasure to visit.

Royal Pump Room

The Pump Room was built by Isaac Shutt in 1842 to provide shelter for visitors to the town's spa. An annexe was added in 1913 to protect the surging number of visitors. The annexe now serves as a museum covering the history of the spa.

Over 15,000 people used to flock to the Pump Rooms each year, drawn by the health-giving benefits of the strongest sulphur wells in Europe. Perhaps the most famous visitor to the spa was Tsarina Alexandra of Russia,, who came in 1911. Harrogate's spa drew the famous and infamous from across Europe, a mix of society that prompted Charles Dickens to write that Harrogate was 'the queerest place with the strangest people leading the oddest lives!'

Betty's Tearooms

A Harrogate icon, the tearooms were opened in 1919, and modern visitors still queue for afternoon tea. The tearoom was launched by Frederick Belmont, who served Swiss confectionery in an elegant setting to spa visitors. Bettys offers a mouth-watering selection of over 300 cakes, chocolates, and breads, and over 50 different types of tea and coffee.

Among the numerous Victorian and Edwardian buildings is the Royal Hall Theatre, an Edwardian concert Hall, where you can enjoy everything from classical music to comedy and the latest pop stars.

Valley Gardens in Low Harrogate covers 17 acres of woodlands dotted with mineral springs. Low Valley is thought to have more mineral springs than any place on earth! Over 35 springs were discovered in Bog Field alone, and that's just one part of the Garden. The garden has been listed Grade II for its historic interest by English Heritage.

Another popular garden is The Stray, an area of open parkland in the centre of town. The Stray was laid out in 1778 as a way to link major mineral springs by a protected green belt. The park size was fixed by law at 200 acres, and if any part of the park is removed it must be replaced by adding more land elsewhere. A small garden area is Crescent Gardens, at the heart of the most popular visitor attractions such as the Pump Room, Royal Baths, and Town Hall.

RHS Harlow Carr garden is on the outskirts of Harrogate, and the stately home of Harewood House is only 7 miles away.

Harrogate consistently makes the list of best places to live in England.