Did you know that the Romans left us not only the Limes, viaducts and a pretty perfect network of paths? But also a piece of pleasurable life culture. Even in distant corners of their empire they built luxurious wellness temples. In the spas of Baden-Baden and Badenweiler, you can enjoy spa pleasures at the height of the times not far from the foundations of their almost 2,000-year-old predecessors. Perfect places to marvel and travel back in time.
Who is on the road in the Black Forest If you are looking for the finest in wellness, Baden-Baden or the Badenweiler state spa are the right places to go: Dive into the healing waters. Sweat and relax in the sauna. Cool off in the ice water. Relaxing together with friends - all this can be enjoyed against a beautiful backdrop. What not everyone knows is that spa culture already existed here almost 2,000 years ago.
The Romans were masters of wellness culture: Roman spas were large, luxurious spas. Specialized architects were commissioned, floor and wall heating was integrated, and the halls were decorated with marble and mosaics. It was not only about health, but also about prestige. The Romans valued their regular visits to the thermal baths and exported the bathing culture to the borders of the Limes in southern Germany. Although people already knew about the healing effects of water, the belief in healing was, unlike today, closely linked to Roman deities. The goddess of ancient Badenweiler was called Diana Abnoba. Her name can still be found today in the ruins of the baths there, carved in stone.
A lot of time has passed since then. But the places have remained, and so have many of the rituals.
After the end of the Roman Empire bathing culture experienced a break: nudity was considered unseemly, and the importance of hygiene for health was underestimated. It was not until around the beginning of the 19th century that the pleasures of bathing experienced their renaissance in Europe. The first new spas were built. Today, many of them combine the old healing traditions with modern architecture and up-to-date medicine in the most beautiful and professional way.
And in the Black Forest? The bath ruins of Baden-Baden and Badenweiler were first removed for the construction of residential buildings, then later rediscovered, restored and surrounded by protective structures. In both Black Forest spa towns, today's thermal baths and Roman baths stand almost on the same foundations.
Impressive 800,000 liters of water land in the thermal baths of Baden-Baden every day. It bubbles up from twelve springs at a depth of 2,000 meters at a temperature of up to 68 degrees. The water is said to alleviate heart or circulatory problems, metabolic disorders or respiratory diseases.
Guests have the choice between the Caracalla Spa and the architecturally unique Friedrichsbad, which was opened in 1877. There are a number of things there that are reminiscent of the ancient model: Roman and Irish bathing rituals can be experienced during the tour. Or you can book a soap brush massage as in Roman times. In contrast, the Caracalla Spa is a modern building with pools between 18 and 38 degrees Celsius, an outdoor pool and a sauna area in the palace garden.
Those who are interested in the history of the Therme interested, discovers the ruins of an ancient soldier's bath under the market. The ingenious floor heating and the craftsmanship of the vaults are still clearly recognizable - as is a small curiosity: the imprint of a dog's paw can be seen in a tile: it was probably not yet completely hardened when the Roman pet went for a walk ...
150 kilometers further south lies the state spa Badenweiler. Here the Romans built the largest Roman thermal bath north of the Alps about 1,800 years ago. Its ruins, uncovered almost 250 years ago, can be seen from the terrace of the Cassiopeia Therme. Around one million liters of water bubble up from the springs every day, at a temperature of 26.4 degrees Celsius and enriched with minerals that are said to alleviate rheumatic diseases, disc complaints and inflammations. The 3,800-square-meter facility promises as much relaxation today as it once did, with a sauna area, wellness area and Roman-Irish area.
Whether Baden-Baden or BadenweilerThe thermal baths are a wonderful place to relax - and, with an awareness of the rich history of the places, to take a mental journey into the past. From the depths of the Black Forest, the water bubbles up with all its good, healing properties and spans the bridge between today and then.
Cover photo: The healing waters bubble up from the depths of the Black Forest - here in the Cassiopeia Therme in Badenweiler © Gregor Lengler
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