Bad Soden’s Hundertwasser House
The Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) is well known for his colorful, whimsical buildings with rounded edges and slanting towers, garishly decorated with thousands of small tiles.
His buildings were never very practical, because he didn’t want to “enslave” people by locking them up in boxes with straight lines. The house he designed for Bad Soden was particularly impractical and probably would have collapsed before it was even finished if another architect named Peter Pelikan hadn’t revised the plans and put them into a “buildable” form.
Since the house was built very close to some of Bad Soden’s mineral springs, the builders were not allowed to dig out a basement in the usual way. Instead, they drove 251 concrete pillars into the ground to support the building.
These pillars were intended to leave the mineral springs intact, but when the building was finished it turned out that the springs had gone dry. So they had to start an elaborate and costly project to make a new channel for the mineral water. (I don’t know who paid for this.)
Finally they did get the mineral water flowing again. In fact they seem to have tapped into some underground stream that was previously unknown, because the springs now supposedly deliver twice as much water as before.
Like most of Hundertwasser’s buildings, the one in Bad Soden is in constant need of repair.
See also my Magdeburg tip The Green Citadel for another example of a building designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Richard Wagner slept here
On this house by the Quellenpark (Spring Park) there are two different plaques, both with the momentous information that the opera composer Richard Wagner slept here on the night of August 12-13, 1860, which was his “first night on German soil” after “eleven years of exile from the Fatherland”.
To us prosaic twenty-first century folks this might sound like a trivial occurrence, but for an ardent and self-important nineteenth century German nationalist like Wagner it was no doubt a matter of profound significance that he was back in his ‘Fatherland’ again. He would probably be insulted if he knew there were only two plaques on the house, and not a bust or a statue.
The second plaque contains the additional information that his first wife Minna, née Planer, was taking the waters in Bad Soden at the time. (He was presumably not overjoyed to see her, since they had already been estranged for a decade, but the plaque doesn’t say that.)
Another piece of momentous information on the second plaque is that on September 1, 1967, the house was bought by Jakob Müller and his wife and completely rebuilt. (So the house must have looked a lot different when Wagner stayed there.)
As I have already mentioned on my Zürich intro page, Wagner had to go into exile because he was facing prosecution in Germany for his part in trying to organize the short-lived Dresden Rebellion of 1849. When he and his wife got to Zürich they were taken in and befriended by a wealthy couple named Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck, who fed and housed them and gave Wagner the leisure he needed to go on composing.
Wagner, always one to bite the hand that fed him, promptly fell in love with Mathilde Wesendonck, for whom he wrote his Wesendonck Songs and even his opera Tristan and Isolde. In a letter to her when he finished the opera, he said that he thought it would be banned, and that a good performance of it would drive people crazy.
For my take on all ten of Wagner’s operas (or all thirteen, depending on what you count as what), please feel free to have a look at my ‘personal page’ (formerly ‘album’) entitled Operas by Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883).
I have also mentioned Wagner and his operas in some of my tips/reviews, for example:
• Tristan og Isolde, by Richard Wagner on my Copenhagen page.
• The Frankfurt Opera -- Upper Foyer on my Frankfurt am Main page.
• The Flying Dutchman on my Wiesbaden page.
• The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner on my Dortmund page.
• The Meistersinger of Cologne on my Cologne page.
- Theater Travel
- Historical Travel
Old Spa Park (Alter Kurpark)
The Old Spa Park (Alter Kurpark) has been here since 1823. It contains several mineral springs and fountains, and was for many years the center of the spa business in Bad Soden.
The band shell (third photo) is used regularly for concerts and other events such as public viewing.
Now the Old Spa Park is one of four parks in the center of Bad Soden, the others being the New Spa Park (Neuer Kurpark), the Wilhelmspark and the Quellenpark.
- Spa and Resort
Bad Soden City Museum
The former Bath House in the old Kurpark is now used for the city archives, the public library, the city art gallery and the city museum.
None of these are very big, so they all fit into the former Bath House without any crowding.
The museum has a few exhibits on local history including the districts of Neuenhain and Altenhein, which were independent villages until they were incorporated into the city of Bad Soden in 1977.
The museum is currently open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. (as of 2013). Admission is free.
Fifth photo: See if you young folks can guess what we used to use these for.
- Museum Visits
This “Spring Park” (Spring in the sense of where the water comes out of the ground, not the season) is now nothing more than a reminiscence of Bad Soden’s two hundred year history as a spa, which ended when the city finally decided to cut its losses and get out of the spa business in 2001.
The “Sodonia” statue (first photo) in the “Sodonia Pavilion” (second photo) is still considered something of a trademark of Bad Soden. The statue and the pavilion were erected over the mineral spring in 1886.
Earlier, since 1567 in fact, the salty water from the spring was used for the production of salt, which in those days was a scarce commodity.
When I took these photos there was hardly any water flowing from the spring, only enough to make a very small puddle.
- Spa and Resort
- Historical Travel
There are several patches of woods around the edges of Bad Soden, with paths for cycling and jogging.
Bad Soden has 231 hectares of woods, which works out to over 18 per cent of the city’s area.
The woods are big enough to support a small population of deer, but these are in danger now because they are hunted by dogs. Apparently several fawns and even full-grown deer have been killed by dogs in the spring of 2013. The mayor recently issued an appeal to local dog owners, asking them to keep their dogs on leashes (leads to you) when they are in or near the woods.
- Hiking and Walking
The Our Father
Our father in heaven,
hallowed by your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those, who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Neuenhain
Bad Soden-Neuenhain, 65812
ph: 06196 23566
- Religious Travel
St. Katharina Church
Katholische Kirchengemeinde St. Katharina
Bad Soden am Taunus, 65812
ph: 06196-2 23 70
Die Türen unserer Kirche - unserer Gemeinde - sind weit offen für alle Menschen. Wir sind zum Gespräch bereit für Suchende, Fragende, Zweifelnde, und Glaubende. Die leibliche und seelische Not nehmen wir sehr ernst und suchen nach gangbaren Wegen.
- Religious Travel