Germany's Most Famous Spa Town: Baden Baden

Baden-Baden Salina sea salt grotto
••• Salina sea salt grotto. http://www.baden-baden.de

Once the playground of the rich, the gates of Germany's most famous spa town are now open for everyone. Fantastic rocco villas, the elegance of neighboring France, boutique shops and - best of all - its restorative waters are all on offer. 

History of Baden-Baden

Located in the darkly romantic southwest corner of Germany known as the Black Forest, the spa-loving Romans called the town Aquae ("the waters") for its healing waters.

They were responsible for healing Emperor Caracalla's rheumatism and he celebrated this natural phenomenon by building three baths.

Even after the Romans fled, the town retained its reputation as a health center. It was hailed in the Middle Ages for saving people from Black Death. Its name, the old plural form of Bad or "bath", got a second "Baden" to distinguish it from all the other Badens in Europe. By the 19th-century, architect Friedrich Weinbrenner capitalized on the city's reputation with a Neoclassical spa quarter. A casino was added and its status was cemented as a place for relaxation and pleasure. Illustrious visitors include Tolstoy, many of the Vanderbilt clan, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I and even US President Barack Obama.

Baden-Baden's Spas

Baden-Baden's baths are still its main attraction. The curative waters are said to rise from a depth of 6,500 feet underground at temperatures of between 50°C and 68°C.

Along the way it collects valuable minerals that give the waters its unique properties. Hotels usually offer their own spas and services (such as well-known Brenners), but there are several world-class spas that can tempt you to leave your room.

Friedrichsbad

This historic spa was built in the mid-1800s and is modeled on the Roman baths with original ruins below.

Marble, statues and ornate domed ceilings provide a rich air of elegance. Mark Twain credited this spa with relieving his rheumatism and their regimented treatments take you through a program to reach good health.

Salina Meersalzgrotte

Sea salts have a positive effect on the skin and respiratory tracts and have been employed by Kneipp therapy. This spa specializes in the treatment with the Salina Sea Salt Grotto. Using Dead Sea and Himalayas salts, this is supposed to treat the immune system in addition to its beauty benefits.

Caracalla Therme

This chic, modern spa has everything. Seven pools, saunas, fountains and waterfalls and a cafe are the pools of your youth all grown up. For shy spa-goers, nudity is restricted to the upstairs sauna and the pools are swimsuit required.

Baden-Baden's Other Attractions

  • Kurhaus - This complex that dates from 1824 and houses the Versailles-inspired casino and concert hall.
  • Römerplatz - Visitors can examine the ruins of the Roman baths before dipping into the same healing waters mentioned in the spa section above.
  • Badeviertel - The city's bath quarter is also an excellent shopping district. 
  • Brahms House - Glimpse inside the original living room of classical musician Johannes Brahms.
  • Castle Hohenbaden - This medieval castle from 1102 includes dungeon lairs and grand views of Baden-Baden and the Rhine Valley.

To pair with this environment of indoor relaxation, Baden-Baden is also a haven for outdoor activities. Favorite German past times like hiking can be enjoyed with golf and tennis facilities providing summer entertainment while skiing is a priority in winter.