Mark Twain On Baden-Baden
Mark Twain travelled the Black Forest in the 1870 and wrote a book about it, which is 50% travel report and 50% fiction, but 100% entertaining and hilarious: "A Tramp Abroad". I recommend it to all visitors to this region.
Here is Mark Twain's opinion on Baden-Baden:
"Baden-Baden sits in the lap of the hills, and the natural and artificial beauties of the surroundings are combined effectively and charmingly. The level strip of ground which stretches through and beyond the town is laid out in handsome pleasure grounds, shaded by noble trees and adorned at intervals with lofty and sparkling fountain-jets. Thrice a day a fine band makes music in the public promenade before the Conversation House, and in the afternoon and evening that locality is populous with fashionably dressed people of both sexes, who march back and forth past the great music-stand and look very much bored, though they make a show of feeling otherwise. It seems like a rather aimless and stupid existence. A good many of these people are there for a real purpose, however; they are racked with rheumatism, and they are there to stew it out in the hot baths. These invalids looked melancholy enough, limping about on their canes and crutches, and apparently brooding over all sorts of cheerless things. People say that Germany, with her damp stone houses, is the home of rheumatism. If that is so, Providence must have foreseen that it would be so, and therefore filled the land with the healing baths. Perhaps no other country is so generously supplied with medicinal springs as Germany. Some of these baths are good for one ailment, some for another; and again, peculiar ailments are conquered by combining the individual virtues of several different baths. For instance, for some forms of disease, the patient drinks the native hot water of Baden-Baden, with a spoonful of salt from the Carlsbad springs dissolved in it. That is not a dose to be forgotten right away. (...)
It is an inane town, filled with sham, and petty fraud, and snobbery, but the baths are good. I spoke with many people, and they were all agreed in that. I had the twinges of rheumatism unceasingly during three years, but the last one departed after a fortnight's bathing there, and I have never had one since. I fully believe I left my rheumatism in Baden-Baden. Baden-Baden is welcome to it. It was little, but it was all I had to give. I would have preferred to leave something that was catching, but it was not in my power.
There are several hot springs there, and during two thousand years they have poured forth a never-diminishing abundance of the healing water. This water is conducted in pipe to the numerous bath-houses, and is reduced to an endurable temperature by the addition of cold water. The new Friederichsbad is a very large and beautiful building, and in it one may have any sort of bath that has ever been invented, and with all the additions of herbs and drugs that his ailment may need or that the physician of the establishment may consider a useful thing to put into the water."
(A Tramp Abroad, Chapter XXI)
The Caracalla Spa contains both a series of fun pools and a separate sauna area.
The fun pools are great for pottering about in. They are nice and warm. The outdoor pools can be reach by entering a pool inside and then swimming out of a flap. Hence, you can enjoy the outdoor pool without having to stand outside. This is great for a cold winter's evening.
Being a fun pool, there are a lot of children, especialy in the evenings.
The Romanesque Sauna area seems to contain just about every type of sauna you can think of. You're not allowed to wear a swimming costume in this area, but you can keep a towel wrapped around you for modesty if you prefer, though most people seem to not bother (even semi shy girlfriend after a while).
There are a couple of nice log cabin saunas outside, but if it is winter then take some sandles with you otherwise your feet will hurt with the cold by the time you get there.
Verdict: Good fun, though a little overrun with children so not so good if you want some peace and quiet. The saunas were fantastic and a little less regimented than the Friedrichsbad.
Relax in Caracalla Therma
Caracalla Therma is one of the two main spa's in Baden-Baden, the other being Fredrichsbad. Fed by one of the hottest thermal springs in Germany at 68C, the therme offers state of the art facilities spread over more than 3000 square metres.
Hours can be spent at the bath indulging in whirlpools, relaxing jets, waterfalls, hot and cold baths, seven different types of (unisex) saunas set in a Romanesque environment, and an aromatic steam bath.
Of special note is the outdoor pool. During the cold winter months it is particularly enjoyable to sit in the hot outdoor bath, watching the moon fade in and out from the steam, whilst your entire body is warm except for the tip of your nose!
Parking is available near the bath, opening hours are 8am until 10pm weekly. Admission is 12Eur for two hours.
"Germany's poshest spa"
The healing powers of the hot springs were already known to the ancient Romans who named the place "Aquae" - waters. In the 19th century Baden-Baden became the summer capital of Europe where the powerful, the rich and the important (and those who wanted to be) met for the holidays.
The late 19th century, the belle epoque, has formed the appearance of the town till today: elegant hotels and villas, the parks along the river Oos and Lichtenthaler Allee, the spa hall and the casino, upscale shops...
One can spend a lot of money in Baden-Baden. On the other hand, the atmosphere, the walk along the river and through the lovely parks, people-watching in town, sampling the water from the hot spring, all this is free, so Baden-Baden has something to offer for the shoestring traveller, too.
"Why the double name?"
In the late middle ages the castle named Baden (the ruins now known as Hohenbaden) became the centre and residence of the Marggraves who named themselves after the castle. When the house of Baden split up in two lines, the one that stayed here named itself "Baden-Baden", the other one "Baden-Durlach" (later the founders of Karlsruhe).
The town's name remained "Baden" until people noticed that they were frequently mixed up with the just as famous spa of Baden bei Wien in Austria. The resolution was made to use the Marggraves' name of "Baden-Baden" from then on to distinguish the towns.
By the way, my dear victims of abbreviationitis, allow me to mention that "BB" is NOT a common code for Baden-Baden among locals - BB is the car number plate of Böblingen, a town near Stuttgart.
How about a romantic ride along Lichtenthaler Allee?
Castle Hohenbaden, also named the Old Palace (Altes Schloss), was the first castle of the Marggraves, after which they named themselves "von Baden".
After the new palace in town was built in the 16th century, the castle was abandoned and fell to ruins. According to its historical importance, however, it has been saved and partly reconstructed.
"The Wind Harp"
In a certain part of the ruin you'll notice a strange musical sound. This is created by a wind harp in one of the window holes. The wind moves the strings of the instrument and makes them sound.