Baden-Baden is a grand old spa town located just to the east of the Rhine valley and Germany's border with France.
The town is a major tourist destination in its own right. The natural setting on the edge of the Black Forest has attracted the rich and famous for centuries.
Baden-Baden is also a good choice for those looking for a base to explore the northern part of the Black Forest.
It has good rail and road connections which make it easy to visit the bustling city of Freiburg im Breisgau. The scenic high road leads directly into the Black Forest National Park.
Baden-Baden is on the north-western edge of the Black Forest and situated on a tributary of the Rhine river in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany.
Baden-Baden can actually boast its own airport with the Karlsruhe-BadenBaden airport just 12 kilometres away. (The flights here are mainly from low-cost European operators and the nearest major international airport is at Stuttgart.)
The town is on a major InterCity rail link which runs between Basel and Karlsruhe. The train station also connects with the Schwarzwaldbahn, which runs through the Black Fores passing Triberg and Donaueschingen.
Drivers coming from elsewhere will find the easiest connections via the nearby A5 motorway up and down the Rhine valley while those wanting to explore the area will take the scenic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse (the 'Black Forest High Road') through to Freudenstadt.
Baden-Baden is a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, but there is much more to this charming town than just spa treatments. From exploring historic sites to indulging in fine dining, there is something for everyone.
One of the top things to do in Baden-Baden is to visit the famous Friedrichsbad. This Roman-Irish bathhouse offers a unique and luxurious experience with a range of hot and cold baths, steam rooms and relaxation areas. The Caracalla Therme, with its many indoor and outdoor pools and spa facilities, is also a popular choice for those who prefer a more modern spa experience.
Baden-Baden is home to several cultural attractions in addition to its spa facilities. The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is one of the largest opera houses in Europe and hosts a variety of performances throughout the year.
The town also boasts several museums, including the Museum Frieder Burda, which showcases contemporary art, and the Staatliche Kunsthalle, which houses a collection of classical and modern art.
A feature of Baden-Baden is its beautiful parks and gardens, which can offer a more peaceful diversion from the crowds of tourists in the old town.
The most popular park in Baden-Baden is the Lichtentaler Allee, a lovely avenue lined with trees, flowers, and sculptures. Visitors can take a slow stroll through the park along the Oos river or rent a bike for a more extensive look at the area.
Another popular garden is the Rosenneuheiten ('New Roses') garden a short way out of the town centre. Here, new rose varieties are grown and displayed, with the 'Golden Rose' award presented annually to the best new rose.
Baden-Baden is surrounded by beautiful hills and forests, making it a paradise for walkers and cyclists. The Black Forest National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 23,000 hectares of forest to explore. The park offers a variety of walking and cycling routes, ranging from easy strolls to challenging climbs.
The Murg Valley is another popular destination for walkers and cyclists. The valley is home to the Murg River, which winds through the hills and forests of the area. Visitors can take a leisurely promenade along the river or tackle one of the more challenging trails.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the Rhine promenade is a great option. Offering breathtaking views of the river and surrounding hills, the trail is a popular spot for walking, jogging and cycling.
Baden-Baden is famous for its thermal baths and spas, which offer spa treatments and therapies to help visitors relax and unwind.
One of the most famous is the Friedrichsbad, which has been welcoming visitors since 1877. This Roman-Irish bath is designed to be taken in 17 stages, each with a different spa treatment or relaxation technique.
Another popular option is the more modern Caracalla Therme, which offers a range of indoor and outdoor pools, as well as additional facilities such as a (textile-free!) sauna and steam bath. Massages and beauty treatments are also available.
The thermal waters used in the spas come from 12 different warm springs underneath the Florentinerberg, which are forced to the surface by natural pressure. The warm springs aremixed into three tunnels supplying the spa buildings with 800,000 litres of water rich in minerals per day.
Baden-Baden can trace its history back to pre-Roman times, but it was the Romans who were the first to recognise the healing properties of the town's hot springs and built thermal baths here over 2,000 years ago.
The town's name, which means 'baths', reflects its Roman heritage. The thermal baths continued to operate throughout the Middle Ages and the town became a popular destination for those seeking to cure various ailments.
The 19th century saw a boom in tourism to Baden-Baden. It became a fashionable destination for the European elite, who were attracted by the town's natural beauty and the healing properties of its thermal waters.
Many of the grand hotels and villas were built during this time, and the town became known as the "Summer Capital of Europe." Visitors - including royalty such as Queen Victoria - came from all over the continent to enjoy the town's cultural attractions, including its elegant theatres and concert halls.
In the early 20th century, Baden-Baden was a centre of artistic and cultural activity. Many famous writers, musicians and artists visited the town, including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Brahms and Wagner.
The city's theatres and concert halls hosted performances by some of the most famous artists of the day. However, the cultural life of the town was disrupted by the Second World War, and it suffered some damage from Allied bombing raids.
After the war, Baden-Baden was quickly rebuilt and its grand hotels and villas were restored to their former glory. Today, visitors can still see many of these historic buildings, a testament to the town's rich cultural heritage.
Overall, Baden-Baden's history is testament to its enduring appeal as a destination for relaxation and culture. The town's thermal baths and grand hotels are reminders of its glamorous past, which has led to it being named on the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.
Although the name seems to be one word repeated twice, the two uses of Baden actually refer to different things.
Baden was the original name of the town (from the old German word for 'baths') but Bad and Baden were used as part of other place names in Europe (and Germany).
To avoid confusion the second name therefore refers to the region 'Baden' (as in Baden-Württemberg), which was an independent Grand Duchy back in the days of Napoleon. In other words, Baden in Baden as opposed to Baden bei Wien in Austria (for example).
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