Baden-Baden is a picturesque spa town in a valley of the Northern Black Forest in southwestern Germany, and on the small river Oos.
Its name means “baths” and it got it thanks to 29 natural springs of water rich in salt with temperatures from 46 to 67 °C (115 to 153 °F). Baden-Baden means the town of Baden in the territory of Baden, and it was doubled to be distinguished from the other cities with the same name, particularly Baden near Zürich in Switzerland and Baden near Vienna in Austria.
The Romans first discovered the charm of this place, and we can still visit the remains of their baths and enjoy the spa experiences at Friedrichsbad and the modern Caracalla Baths.
In the 19th-century Baden-Baden became the summer meeting point of European aristocracy and social elite. Many members of royalty, wealthy bankers, industrialists, famous artists came to enjoy the benefits of the healing thermal springs of Baden-Baden on the slopes of Schwarzwald.
It is also an ideal destination for sports enthusiasts, for hiking and horse racing, with many golf and tennis clubs.
If you happen to find yourself in this scenic town without many hours at your disposal, I hope this itinerary will help you see as much of its beauty as possible.
- The Festspielhaus
- The Trinkhalle
- The Kurhaus
- The Theater of Baden-Baden
- The Old Town
- The Rathaus
- The Stiftskirche
- Roman Bath Ruins
- The Fabergé Museum
- The Evangelist Town Church
- The Russian Orthodox Church
- The Lichtentaler Allee
As our starting point, we will choose The Festspielhaus, Germany’s largest opera and concert hall, with a 2,500-seat capacity. It was originally built in 1904 as Baden-Baden central railway station.
The new construction was opened in 1998, and after the initial public start-up funding, the Festspielhaus successfully converted to become the first privately financed European opera and concert company.
Following the river Oos, we will get to The Trinkhalle (pump house) in the Kurhaus spa complex, built in 1942 as the spa’s main building. It is a lovely place in the center of the city with great photo motives, surrounded by a very beautiful and well-kept park. The 90-meter arcade is lined with benches, and decorated with monumental allegorical paintings, illustrating many local legends and myths.
Right next to it, there is Baden-Baden’s Casino, and conference complex built in 1824 in its unique Belle Epoch styled elegance, with the Corinthian columns and paired-griffins frieze of the grand entrance. It achieved the international fame in the mid-1830’s, when gambling was forbidden in France, which encouraged gamblers to cross the border and try their luck at Baden-Baden’s casino. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” was inspired by it.
The Kurhaus represents Baden-Baden’s sparkling center stage.
You can stroll through the immaculate Kurhaus gardens or go shopping in the elegant boutiques along the Kurhaus colonnade.
You can pay a visit to casino or to its stylish banqueting rooms. Or, you can simply take a seat in front of the open air stage and listen to the delightful sounds of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic.
We will then pass by the Theater of Baden-Baden. Especially for its opening, in August 1862, Hector Berlioz composed his opera Béatrice et Bénédict.
Thus, we get to the Old Town. Strolling around its alleys and lanes we can explore its Baroque-influenced architecture, and visit its charming jewelry and antique shops, galleries, and cafes.
Gernsbacher Street will lead us to the Rathaus, and immediately after to the Stiftskirche, the Romanesque-style basilica located directly on the Florentinerberg in the old town of Baden-Baden. The Parish Church of Baden-Baden, or the Collegiate Church of Our Lady is dedicated to the holy apostles Peter and Paul.
It is the burial place of the margraves of Baden, where 14 of them found their final resting place. It was redesigned for the first time in the 15th century in the late Gothic style. It received its present tower in the 18th century. At the same time, the interior was baroque. Finally, the church got the present appearance in 1867.
Right behind it, there are Roman Bath Ruins, the Museum of Ancient Bathing Culture. The Romans appreciated very much the relaxing effects of Baden-Baden’s thermal spring water, and we can admire their masterwork by visiting the 2000-year-old bath ruins, which are one of the oldest and best-kept examples in the country.
Leaving the famous Caracalla Spa behind us, we will take Sophienstraße and find The Fabergé Museum devoted to the work of Carl Fabergé, a Russian goldsmith and jeweler, born in St. Petersburg.
The complete spectrum of his work is represented in this unique collection starting with the famous imperial Easter eggs for the Tsar’s family to the exquisite pieces of jewelry and high quality everyday items from the time of the First World War.
Taking Lichtentaler Street on the left, we will soon get to the Evangelist Town Church and a little bit further to the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church.
We will finish our tour going back to the river Oos, to enjoy the Lichtentaler Allee, a historic park and arboretum. It is 2.3-kilometer long strolling avenue along the west bank of the river Oos.
In 1655, it used to be just a path between the town market and Lichtenthal monastery, and today the avenue contains about 300 types of native and exotic woody plants, including alders, azaleas, chestnuts, ginkgoes, limes, magnolias, maples, oaks, etc.
There are many other interesting things to see in Baden-Baden, like Brahms House, The Paradise Cascade, Geroldsau Waterfall, The Museum Frieder Burda or Merkur Bergbahn (Merkur Mountain Railway), but it would take a much longer visit. I am sure that you will completely enjoy Baden-Baden even with this shorter itinerary, and that you will bring home marvelous memories and many beautiful photos.