Baden-Baden means “Bath-Bath” or “Spa-Spa” or maybe just the city of Baden in the state of Baden (like New York, New York), even though the former state of Baden is now only a part of the state of Baden-Württemberg, in the southwest corner of Germany.
My first visit to Baden-Baden was on an excursion from the VirtualTourist EuroMeet 2008 in Karlsruhe. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I was an active member of the website VirtualTourist (VT) from 2004 until it closed down in 2017. The 2008 meeting was one of the biggest, certainly the biggest I ever attended. While I can’t claim to have spoken with all 130 members who were there, I did get around to quite a few of them, especially ones I had corresponded with online. As at other VT meetings, I enjoyed meeting these folks in person after reading their tips and exchanging comments and e-mails.
Our excursion to Baden-Baden was led by VT member Bernd_L, who lives in Karlsruhe and has organized a number of meetings and excursions over the years. We went from Karlsruhe to Baden-Baden by train, a twenty-minute journey by regional express.
This monumental building in Baden-Baden is called the Trinkhalle (literally ‘drinking hall’), which for me as a long-time Frankfurt resident sounds like something of a joke, since we have the same word for something completely different. In Frankfurt, a Trinkhalle is a small kiosk that stays open until late at night, where you can buy a few basic grocery items but mainly bottled beer, and then stand around drinking it from the bottle.
The Trinkhalle in Baden-Baden is not meant for drinking bottled beer, but for ‘taking the waters’ — drinking mineral water from the local springs in hopes of curing or at least alleviating whatever ailment you might have. This building was built from 1839 to 1842 and features sixteen Corinthian columns along with fourteen frescos painted on the walls.
This is one of the fourteen frescos, showing a water nymph singing and playing her harp to lure an unsuspecting young shepherd to his doom. The scene is the Wildsee, a lake in the Black Forest not far from Baden-Baden.
Baden-Baden also has a casino, a theater and several other large buildings dating from the town’s heyday as a fashionable spa in the 19th century.
The ancient Romans already had a spa here. The ruins of their bath houses have been carefully excavated and are now displayed in an underground museum.
Like most people of my generation, I grew up thinking the bikini had been invented in France in 1946, but apparently the ancient Roman girls also wore two-piece bathing suits, and if I’m not mistaken the one on the left is jogging with small barbells in her hands.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2018.
See also: our VirtualTourist excursion to Bruchsal.