Frauenalb used to be a convent of Benedictine nuns, founded in the late 12th century. Its history consists of a series of destructions and rebuildings. In 1598 the convent was closed down due to the all too worldly ways of life of the inmates. During the 30 year war it was reopened and a new convent established. Around 1700 the nuns first erected new convent buildings (1696-1704), then a magnificent baroque church (1727-1736).
The secularization of 1802/03 brought the final closedown. In the following years fires damaged the empty buildings, other parts were torn down to reuse the material for other building projects. The remaining ruin has become a remarkable landmark of the upper Alb valley.
Visiting the ruins is free, they are accessible 24/7.
The tram S 1 along the Karlsruhe - Bad Herrenalb route stops nearby at "Frauenalb/Schielberg", 3 minutes walk from the tram stop to the church.
Frauenalb is 5 kms from Bad Herrenalb, which is an easy hike along the valley. You can also include Frauenalb in longer hikes over the hills. Trails are easy and well marked.
More pictures of Frauenalb with impressions of autumn colours and winter snow can be found in my Marxzell page. Frauenalb actually belongs to Marxzell not Bad Herrenalb.
The healing water from Bad Herrenalb's springs can be sampled for free. There is a fountain in the octogonal pavillon by the Kurhaus (open daily 11.00 - 18.00) where you can help yourself. Glasses are available for free but you can also bring your own glass, cup or bottle.
Important to know: "Saubere Gläser" = clean glasses; "gebrauchte Gläser" = used glasses. Grab one from the counter next to the first sign, and please return it after use to the second sign.
Recommended maximum consumption is 1 liter per day. Please don't ask me what the water is good for, or against... The taste is nothing unusual (not as bad as the waters of Baden-Baden).
A Kurpark, a beautiful park with paths that are easy to walk, many benches, pretty trees and lawns and flowers, often fountains and a duck pond and sculptures, is an indispensable part of a spa town. All of them have one to provide an area to walk for their visitors, also for the sick and disabled among them.
Bad Herrenalb is no exception. The Kurpark along the Alb river invites for walks and relaxation. The park has many beautiful big old trees of native and introduced specieses, planted as solitairs surrounded by wide lawns so they had space to grow into full splendour.
The fountain behind the Kurhaus must be a natural warm spring. Any artificial fountain would have long been turned off in wintery conditions with temperatures far below zero. The water is still springing and has formed an ice cone that looks like a little volcano.
The site of the abbey church is now occupied by the protestant parish church which was built in 1739. It is much smaller than the original church. The gothic choir of the abbey church has been maintained and included in the new building.
The interior of the nave has been redesigned in 1903. It got a vaulted, wood-panneled ceiling, ornamental frescoes, a new organ and new stained glass windows in the choir.
The medieval choir contains several tombs and epitaphs, among them the kenotaph of Margrave Bernhard I. of Baden (see separate tip). Behind the altar there is a showcase with a model of the monastery as it used to be in its active times (photo 5).
The Klosterschänke on the edge of the monastery area was built, according to the inscription above the door, in 1739, the same year as the protestant church. Note the text of the inscription, these are the wise words of an experienced innkeeper...
Herein herein ihr lieben Gest / Wer Geld hat, ist der Allerbest.
(Come in, come in, you dear guests / who has money is the very best)
Relaxing, swimming in thermal water from a natural spring, sauna and steam baths, offers for massages, aqua healing, water gymnastics and similar.
Indoor pools 30°C and 35°C, outdoor pool 30°C
Opening hours: daily 9.00-22.00
Prices: depend on how long you stay, if you use only the pool area or also the sauna, etc. starting with 6.50 € for 1 1/2 hours in the pools. Full price list here
Comment: not the best spa I've ever been in. The pools have some massage jets but that's about it, none of the bubbly water toys one finds elsewhere. I have not used the sauna but found the pool area rather boring after a while. The average age of the visitors must be close to 70.
Advantage 1: it was quiet and uncrowded, lots of space for a relaxed swim and no queues to get one of the jets.
Advantage 2: even a 40-something fattie like me can feel young and beautiful in there, I had a pleasant chat with a charming pool attendant ;-))
Another indispensable institution in a spa town is the Kurhaus which contains the administration and therapeutic facilities and a cafe or restaurant, often also a ballroom, casino or similar - not sure about Bad Herrenalb in that respect.
The Kurhaus in Bad Herrenalb is not big but the town is not big either... The backside of the building hosts a cafe with a big terrace facing the park (photo 2). Sitting there with a coffee or tea must be an enjoyable pastime in summer.
The tomb fills the arcade between the choir and the left side chapel. It is dedicated to Margrave Bernhard I. of Baden who died in 1431 (date mentioned in the gothic inscription on the choir side of the tomb). He is depicted in full armour, accompanied by angels who hold his helmet and crest.
The tomb is actually a kenotaph, i.e. a fake grave: it is and has always been empty - Bernhard was in reality buried in the collegiate church in Baden-Baden.
The Cistercian monastery of Herrenalb was founded in the 12th century. Having been an independent imperial abbey in the middle ages, it became property of the Dukes of Württemberg before 1500. It was destroyed during the 30 year war. The part of the church that was still intact became the parish church of the village which developed round the site.
The separated monastery area is still visible although the surrounding buildings are mostly younger.
Of the abbey church, the choir is preserved (which was included in the new 18th century parish church) and also the ruins of the Romanesque vestibule, the so-called "paradise".
The monastery area can be visited any time for free. The church is open in the daytime hours.
I was totally amazed by this old church ruins. Walking through them you will get to the "new" church, which also seem to be quite old. Also looking up you will notice a large tree growing from one of the walls of the ruins.
There are some really lovely buildings in this place. Walk around and discover them.
This is one of the best things to do where ever you are.
Walk around the village/town/city and wander into the little side streets,
where sometimes the best gem is hidden.