Baden-Baden: An Elegant Sanctuary for Health and Wellness
BADEN-BADEN, Germany - Baden-Baden has been an attraction in the heart of the Upper Rhine Valley for more than two thousand years: The revitalising effects of the hot springs were already appreciated by Roman legionnaires, and in the Middle Ages the spas and bathhouses were even more popular than the taverns.
A few centuries later the town which is set between the Black Forest and the Rhine Valley became quite glamorous. Artists, writers, philosophers and musicians started to arrive; the French artist Courbet, the critic of religion Feuerbach, the writers Hebel, Lenau and Storm - just to name a few. Clara Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Berlioz, virtuosos at the piano, took their audiences by storm. Aristocracy came from Russia; Gogol, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev gambled away their royalties in the famous casino - according to Marlene Dietrich the most beautiful casino in the world. It is also the oldest.
Whenever England's Queen Victoria came to take her waters in Baden-Baden the European aristocracy and the German emperor and empress would also chose to spend their summer here. Paganini played his violin like the devil while Mark Twain wrote snarky commentaries.
Most of the guests were returning visitors, some stayed for good. The hotels and spas with their magnificently decorated façades and richly furnished interiors were erected in the carefree style of Historicism and are still standing today, albeit having been thoroughly modernised and lovingly restored.
At the same time the snow-white Kurhaus, the theatre fashioned in the style of the Paris Opera and a large number of art nouveau villas were built. Elegant, culturally demanding and full of sparkling vitality is how the town has been presenting itself ever since the 19th century.
In this respect, not much has changed to this very day. The magnificent former railway station Kaiserbahnhof has been transformed into a concert and opera hall - the second largest concert and opera hall in the world, with sensational acoustics. And while the Queen of England nowadays rather chooses to travel to cold Scotland, other guests such as Bill Clinton, Boris Becker, Lang Lang or the New York Philharmonic Orchestra stop by here.
When Nikolaus Lehnhoff, one of the world's leading opera directors, has an opening night in the concert and opera hall, the airplane from Berlin is filled with VIPs and critics. The next day Daniel Barenboim plays piano, Pierre Boulez conducts - and all guests of the Whitsun concerts are given a fresh rose as a farewell present. Baden-Baden is a paradise for culture aficionados.
The concert and opera hall was made possible through the generous support of cultured patrons from Germany's southwest and has managed to maintain its high standards of artistic quality. The Museum Frieder Burda, an outstanding building designed by the American star architect Richard Meier, presents exhibitions of the shooting stars of the current developments in art in exclusive retrospectives.
The casino, the historic Friedrichsbad baths and the modern Caracalla Spa, eight first-class golf courses, luxury hotels and award-winning gourmet chefs leave no wish unfulfilled. Nevertheless: Baden-Baden is an international resort town. The traditional therapies in health, beauty and wellness are continuously improved in a very innovative manner.
In a large number of health and wellness clinics a wide spectrum of recognised treatments - ranging from the more traditional concepts to Ayurveda, yoga, shiatsu and others - can be found which are employed in the cure of ailments of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular or nervous systems. Lodgings are available according to your own taste.
Besides the luxury hotels and noble accommodations there are a range of very fine family-run three-star hotels, comfortable apartments and individually run pensions - and even a youth hostel. The Kurhaus with its thrilling and alluring Belle Époque grandeur still remains at the heart of Baden-Baden's social life - be it for concerts, cabarets, a visit to the casino, a dinner-show or for one of the numerous lavish balls.
Healing thermal springs, clean air, exquisite peace, bustling lanes in the old part of town with numerous street cafés, restaurants and shops, magnificent parks and gardens and philharmonic sounds from the mussel-domed outdoor stage - where can relaxation be more pleasant?
Healing silence also refreshes the resort guest on the multiple-award-winning panorama path with its spectacular views, situated halfway up the surrounding hills and leading once around the town, or on excursions along the
Schwarzwald-Hochstraße - the scenic route along the ridges of the Black Forest - into the Rhine Valley, the French Vosges mountains, the Alsace or the Baden-Baden Rebland wine region.
Fresh air fanatics, fitness cracks, power walkers, paragliders and free climbers will feel right at home here - but so will those attracted to good food, wine and spirits! The Black Forest not only beckons hikers and ramblers but is also the home of the world famous Black Forest Gateau, the smoked Black Forest Ham and Kirschwasser fruit brandy.
While the last leaves are still falling in the valley, the first snows are already powdering the surrounding hills. Skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing and cross-country skiing - it's all available here. Even a short, brisk stroll in wintertime is a contribution to staying healthy - it releases endorphins and strengthens you to face the turbulent world. And when the gas lamp lighter goes about his old-fashioned duty at dusk, Baden-Baden's guests learn the honoured rule of the resort: "Early to bed..." But that's a rule not easily followed in such a vibrant, elegant town like Baden-Baden!
The Upper Rhine Valley The beautiful Upper Rhine Valley is located in the heart of Europe, where the Rhine connects France, Germany and Switzerland. With an area of more than 21.000 km² the region is almost as large as Tuscany, and has the same centuries-old tradition of attracting tourists who love art, culture and fine cuisine. The Upper Rhine Valley is a compact region of varied scenery and culturally of extraordinary diversity with many charming towns and villages on both sides of the Rhine.
The economically prosperous region with its six million inhabitants is within easy reach and offers its visitors a lot of everything. It never takes more than ten minutes to get from one highlight to another. Famous for its short and mild winters and pleasant summer temperatures from April to October, the region is one of the most beautiful and fertile landscapes in Europe: The markets, vineyards and sophisticated restaurants as good as gold for gourmets; the Gothic cathedrals in Freiburg, Basle and Strasbourg, medieval castles and the countless museums with art collections ranging through history make it a MUST for art connoisseurs; the unique landscape is a paradise for golfers, hikers and ramblers, swimmers, bikers and outdoor fans.
Some eighteen million overnight stays each year - of which many guests are returning visitors - confirm the region's outstanding appeal to tourism.
For further detailed information: www.upperrhinevalley.com