Kurpark Bad Homburg
Another thing every self-respecting spa has to have is a Kurpark.
The one in Bad Homburg begins right behind the Kurhaus, and includes among other attractions a rather dumpy monument to the poet Friedrich Hölderlin (second photo) from the dumpy decade of the 1880s.
The Sala-Thai pavilion (third and fifth photos) was a gift of the King of Siam in 1907, as thanks to the curative waters of the spa for curing whatever it was that had been ailing him.
1. Kurpark Bad Homburg.
2. Monument to the poet Friedrich Hölderlin.
3. Sala-Thai pavilion.
4. No Cycling sign in the Kurpark, with a drawing of a 19th century velocipede.
5. Sala-Thai pavilion in the spring.
Half-timbered houses in the Old Town
1. Half-timbered houses
2. Plaque on one of the houses: "One of the oldest houses of the Old Town, built 1583, exposed and renovated 1978."
3. Oldest half-timbered house.
4. Plaque on this house: "Oldest dated house in the Old Town, built 1505-1508, renovated and restored 1989-1991."
In the 19th century, owners of half-timbered houses tended to be ashamed of them because they looked old-fashioned. So they smeared plain white plaster over the facades to make the houses look more modern.
In the 20th century the old half-timbered looked came back into fashion (it was so old it was something special), so the owners of these houses went to a lot of trouble and expense to remove the white plaster and expose the half-timbered structure again.
In the 21st century heating costs have gone up so much that the problem arises of how to insulate these houses. If you put insulation on the outside you again conceal the half-timbered structure, but if you put the insulation on the inside you make the rooms of the house even smaller than they already are.
My advice about half-timbered houses is to enjoy looking at them, but don't buy one.
- Historical Travel
Landgrave's palace in Bad Homburg
1. Entrance to the palace grounds.
2. In the palace courtyard.
3. Romanische Halle, built 1901.
4. Museum entrance and shop in the palace.
The Bad Homburg Palace (Schloss) was built towards the end of the 17th century on the site of a former castle.
For many generations it was the residence of the Landgraves of Hessen-Homburg, and was later used by the German emperors as a summer residence until the last emperor had to abdicate at the end of the First World War in 1918.
The palace museum includes furniture and artworks from various historical periods, and there is also said to be an exhibit on the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, though this was supposedly closed for renovation when I wanted to see it recently. (I say "supposedly" because I had the distinct impression I was being lied to by the unhelpful museum staff.)
The palace is open, theoretically, Tuesday - Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer months, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter. Admission is 3.50 Euros for adults, and supposedly there are hourly guided tours of two of the wings. I have never taken one of these tours, so I can't say anything about them except that they are mentioned on the palace website.
Concerts of classical music are held occasionally in the Palace Church.
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
Kurhaus Bad Homburg
1. Kurhaus Bad Homburg.
2. Tourist information office in the Kurhaus.
Since Bad Homburg is a spa town it of course has to have a Kurhaus or "spa house" to provide activities for the visitors, some of whom have prolonged stays here for rehabilitation purposes.
The Kurhaus here is a modern building which includes a theater, a shopping center, two cafés and of course an underground parking garage. It also includes a tourist information office with a helpful staff.
What's so BAD about a place like Bad Homburg? Click here to find out.
Bad Homburg has been a spa since 1834, but it was officially known merely as "Homburg" until 1912, when the city was finally given state permission to add the coveted word "Bad" to its name.
Palace Park (Schlosspark)
1. The palace and the White Tower, from the palace park.
2. Ducks in winter in the palace park.
Below the palace is the Palace Park, which today occupies 13 hectares mainly on the west and north sides of the palace. In earlier centuries, under the rule of the landgraves, the park was much larger.
The first known mention of a park on this site is from the year 1441, but it has been repeatedly restructured since then.
For those who are interested in the details of this, "Historical Park Tours" are offered on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings during the summer months.
- Castles and Palaces
Hölderlin Path in Bad Homburg
1. Dorotheenstraße in Bad Homburg.
2. Hölderlin Path sign at a traffic light.
3. City library, Dorotheenstraße 22.
4. Old house at Dorotheenstraße 12.
5. Inscription on the old house: first the initials L.J. and H.J., then the text, meaning roughly: "If you are sitting comfortably, then sit still. An old-age residence is the best." (Makes more sense in the original German.)
When the Hölderlin Path gets to Bad Homburg it takes a couple of twists and turns but eventually winds up on the Dorotheenstraße, a street named after Elisabeth Dorothea von Hessen-Darmstadt (1676-1721), who was the wife of the then-ruling Landgrave of Hessen-Homburg.
- Historical Travel
Hölderlin Path at the Nidda River
1. New bridge over the Nidda leading to the Old Airfield.
2. Bicycle route signs and a Hölderlin path sign by the bridge over the Nidda.
3. Former control tower at the Old Airfield.
4. A rare sight nowadays: a helicopter at the Old Airfield.
5. Part of the old runway still exists as a remembrance, but the rest has been broken up and returned to nature.
The Hölderlin Path leads along the Nidda River for a short distance, and then crosses the Nidda on this new pedestrian and cycling bridge which was originally called the Centennial Bridge because it was built at the beginning of the 21st century, but has now been named the Robert Gernhardt Bridge after a Frankfurt poet who lived from 1937 to 2006.
Robert Gernhardt was more of a humorous poet (also a painter, cartoonist and editor), not a tragic figure like Hölderlin.
When Hölderlin walked along here in the years 1798 to 1800 he of course also had to cross the Nidda, but I'm not at all sure there was any bridge for him to use. I do know that the water level of the Nidda was much lower in his time, so he probably was able to ford the river by wading or jumping from rock to rock at some shallow place.
The current high water level is a result of dams that were built further downstream in the 1920s for flood control purposes. Every two years in September you can see how shallow the Nidda used to be, because they open the dams for one weekend and let all the water out so that volunteers can go through and remove all the trash that has accumulated in the riverbed.
The Old Airfield was used by the United States Army as a base for helicopters and light planes from 1952 until the 1990s. About two dozen helicopters were stationed there in the 1980s, and the noise pollution was considerable. After the US Army withdrew (to the relief of people living nearby) there was the usual hiatus for (in)decision making, but eventually the site was developed as a recreational area with a restaurant (simplest German fare like sausages and Leberkäs, nothing special) and a fire brigade museum.
(The helicopter in the fourth photo is a rescue helicopter that belongs to the German Interior Ministry.)
The aerial photo of this location in Google Earth must be at least fifteen years old. There is no bridge in their photo, and the US Army markings are still visible on the runway, which has not yet been shortened.
Update 2012: This is still true, because the current imagery at this location on Google Earth is from 2002, so there is no bridge and the US Army markings are still visible on the runway.
- Historical Travel
Hölderlin Path at the railroad tracks
1. Hölderlin Path sign at the railroad station "Frankfurter Berg" on the suburban train line S6 (which goes to Friedberg, not Bad Homburg).
2. The official Hölderlin Path crosses the railroad tracks through this ugly underpass, but as a cyclist I take the nearby road bridge which is only a slight detour.
When Friedrich Hölderlin took his frequent walks from Bad Homburg to Frankfurt and back in the years 1798 to 1800 he of course didn't have to worry about where and how to cross the railroad tracks, because they didn't exist yet.
The Main-Weser railroad line from Frankfurt to Friedberg was built starting in 1846 and went into operation in 1850. It is now used by the suburban train line S6, which stops here at the station "Frankfurter Berg", and also by regional trains (which do not stop here) from Frankfurt to Friedberg, Gießen, Marburg and Kassel, among other places.
Every two hours there is also a white InterCity train on this route, a successor to the now discontinued but formerly very popular InterRegio trains that used to run here regularly.
Occasionally you can also see an InterCityExpress (ICE) train on these tracks, but only if their normal route via Fulda and the Kinzig Valley is blocked for some reason.
- Historical Travel
The Little Opera of Bad Homburg
Since 1990 Bad Homburg has been the home base of a small but energetic opera company, the Kleine Oper Bad Homburg, which specializes in opera performances for children.
They only perform occasionally in Bad Homburg, however, because they are usually on tour throughout Germany.
In 2009, for instance, they only have seven performances planned for Bad Homburg, and of these five are reserved for schools. the other two are an open-air performance in the Kurpark on July 18th, and a 20th anniversary gala in the English Church on November 20th.
In September 2010 they are planning a new (children's) production of Mozart's Magic Flute, and the premiere will be here in the Kurtheater in Bad Homburg, before they take it out on the road.
I'm happy to say that I know several of the very talented people involved in the Kleine Oper Bad Homburg, such as the soprano Ingrid El Sigai and the pianist Stefan Geier.
- Theater Travel
Kaiser Wilhelms Bad
This luxurious bath-house was named after the German emperor Wilhelm II, who used Bad Homburg as his summer residence starting in 1888.
Today this bath-house is still (or again) thriving under the name of "Kur-Royal®" -- that last character in the quotation marks is the trademark symbol (R in a circle). I don't know if it will show up properly in VirtualTourist, but even if it doesn't, you know what it means.
- Spa and Resort
- Historical Travel
Three Towers in the Old Town
1. Rathausturm Bad Homburg (City Hall Tower).
2. Plaque on the City Hall Tower.
3. Hexenturm (Witches' Tower).
4. Plaque on the Witches' Tower.
5. Der Stumpfe Turm (The Blunt Tower).
The plaque on the City Hall Tower reads: "City Hall Tower, part of the city fortifications of the 14th century. Between 1603 and 1656 the victims of the witch hunts in the jurisdiction of Homburg were imprisoned here until they were executed."
This City Hall Tower is at the site of the old medieval City Hall (GPS 50°13'47.65" North; 8°36'38.97" East), not to be confused with the modern City Hall at Rathausplatz.
The plaque on the Witches' Tower reads: "Witches' Tower, part of the city fortifications of the 14th century. Built again in 1905."
So this is not the original tower, but even the replica is now over a hundred years old.
Hölderlin Path in Frankfurt: Adlerflychthof
1. Adlerflychtstraße street sign.
2. The Berta Jourdan School (currently something of a construction site) is where the Adlerflychthof once stood.
3. Walking and cycling paths in Holzhausen Park.
4. Rotunda of the Hessian public radio and television service hr.
5. Hölderlin Path further north, in the Frankfurt district of Eckenheim.
After leaving downtown Frankfurt, the Hölderlin Path leads up Oeder Weg past a street called Adlerflychtstraße in remembrance of a man named Justinian von Adlerflycht (1761-1831), a legal scholar and lay judge. His family home, called the Adlerflychthof, was built in 1763 and torn down in 1866.
In the 1790s the Adlerflychthof was rented by the Gontard family as their summer residence. When Hölderlin walked here from Bad Homburg, he and Susette Gontard exchanged love letters through the hedge if nobody was looking.
Further on, the Hölderlin Path goes through the Holzhausen Park (third photo) and later past the rotunda of the Hessian public radio and television service hr (fourth photo). This rotunda was built in 1948 and was originally intended (wishful thinking on Frankfurt's part) as the meeting place of the German Federal Parliament.
The route of the Hölderlin Path in Frankfurt coincides in part with the city's bicycle route number 7 (for instance in the third and fourth photos).
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Hölderlin Path at the Hölderlin House
1. Hölderlin House, Dorotheenstraße 34.
2. Another view of the Hölderlin House.
3. Plaque reading: "Hölderlin House built again in 1986. Here the poet Friedrich Hölderlin lived from 1804-1805."
This "Hölderlin House" is a block and a half from the end of the Hölderlin Path.
During his second stay in Bad Homburg, Hölderlin rented a room in this house for several months from a clock- and watchmaker named Calame.
The house was completely demolished in 1983, but it was rebuilt from scratch in 1986, so what we can see now is actually a replica, not the original house. It is now used as a residence for visiting literary scholars.
- Historical Travel
Bad Homburg City Hall
The Bad Homburg City Hall (Rathaus) is a modern building near the railroad station, with city offices, a shopping center, cafés and restaurants.
There is also an information office which is primarily intended for residents, not tourists, but in fact they gave me a better city map than the one I got later at the tourist information in the Kurhaus.
A century ago the King of Siam came regularly to Bad Homburg to make use of the legendary healing properties of the spa water. As a gift to the people of the city he had a temple built in Bangkok, dismantled and shipped to Germany. It was built at his favourite spa.
It's quite an unusual symbol of the city, and has become a gathering point for Thai people living in the area. Every summer a Thai festival is celebrated here, so if you want to eat Thai food in the sun with lots of other Thais, this is the place to come.
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