Picture in your head a town with a sophisticated, cosmopolitan flair, dotted with green parks and blooming gardens, filled with people who revel in culture, food and drink – and well, you’ve pretty much named half the towns in Europe. But add to that a centuries-old reputation as one of the continent’s most chic spa towns, and you have Baden-Baden.
Less than 40 miles northeast of Strasbourg, France and nestled in the charming Black Forest Region of Germany, the town of Baden-Baden literally translates to “Bath, Bath” – how’s that for emphasis? The ancient Romans knew of the wondrous, healing springs present in Baden-Baden and the emperor, Caracalla, somewhat of a bath addict, made the journey there to soothe his arthritis. In the Middle Ages, the town fell into ruin, but in 1112, it was resurrected by German nobility who made the town their home. The region again faced hardship during the Thirty Years’ War starting in the early 1600’s, but today Baden-Baden is without a doubt the summer capital of Europe and the epitome of the lap of luxury.
A stroll through this inviting town will bring you into direct contact with numerous spas that draw their water from the local, thermal springs and impart it to guests with a pampering touch. The two most well known spas are Friedrichsbad Roman-Irish Spa and Caracalla, the latter named after the aforementioned Roman emperor. For a town that is well-worn on the map of jet-setters, budget tourists need not be afraid to enter either of them. At Caracalla, for example, a three hour visit that includes admission to a variety of bathing pools can be had for about US $23.
In addition to its fantastic spas, Baden-Baden is known for its casino, great shopping and quality wine. Situated in the Ortenau wine region, a special wine route offers hiking through vineyards and orchards, offering spectacular views from strategic vantage points. The town is also in close proximity to a number of other worthwhile destinations including Freiberg, Rothenberg and Stuttgart (Porsche factory tour, anyone?).
For those who are seeking a relaxing retreat, a boost of energy or just an overall greater sense of well-being, Baden-Baden should definitely be on their short list of spa destinations that can handily do the trick.
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