Baden-Baden is a spa town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is located on the western foothills of the Black Forest, on the banks of the Oos River, in the region of Karlsruhe.
The German word, ‘Baden,’ translates as ‘baths.’ The springs of Baden-Baden were known to the Romans, and the foundation of the town refers to the emperor, Hadrian, with an inscription of somewhat doubtful authenticity. The bath-conscious Roman emperor, Caracalla, once came here to ease his arthritic aches. Baden was also known as Aurelia Aquensis, in honour of Aurelius Severus, during whose reign Baden would seem to have been well known. Fragments of its ancient sculptures are still to be seen, and, in 1847, the well preserved remains of Roman vapour baths were discovered just below the New Castle. The town was named Baden (without the repetition) in the Middle Ages. The town fell into ruin but reappeared in 1112 as the seat (until 1705) of the margravate of Baden.
From the 14th century to the end of the 17th, Baden-Baden was the residence of the margraves of Baden, to whom Baden-Baden gave its name. The margraves first dwelled in the old castle, the ruins of which still occupy the summit above the town, but, in 1479, they moved to the new castle, which is situated on the hillside nearer to the town. During the Thirty Years’ War and the Nine Years’ War, Baden-Baden suffered severely from the various combatants, especially from the French, who pillaged it in 1643 and left it in ashes in 1689. The margrave Louis William, popularly known as Türkenlouis, moved to Rastatt in 1705. During the Second Congress of Rastatt (1797–1799), Baden-Baden was rediscovered as a spa town. The popularity of the city as a spa dates from the early 19th century, when the Prussian queen visited the site to improve her health.
The 19th century saw the town rise to become a meeting place for celebrities, who were attracted by the hot springs as well as by the famous Baden-Baden Casino, the luxury hotels, the horse races, and the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee. Clients included Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III, Berlioz, Brahms, and Dostoyevsky. Baden-Baden is a setting in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina but the city has a different name. Baden-Baden was then nicknamed the European summer capital and reached its zenith under Napoleon III during the 1850s and 1860s. The Russian writer, Dostoevsky, wrote The Gambler while compulsively gambling at the Baden-Baden Casino. Johannes Brahms’ local residence, the Brahmshaus, can still be visited today.
In 1931, the town of Baden-Baden was officially given its double name, which is the short form for “Baden in Baden” (i.e., Baden in the state of Baden). This was already in common use to distinguish the town from Baden bei Wien and Baden, Switzerland. In both World Wars, the town escaped destruction. After World War II, Baden-Baden became the headquarters of the French forces in Germany. Under the supervision of the French Air Force, a military airfield was constructed at Baden-Söllingen between the Black Forest and the Rhine River, 15 km west of Baden-Baden; the runway and associated facilities were completed in June 1952. In 1953, units of the Royal Canadian Air Force were accommodated at the base later known as CFB Baden-Soellingen. In the 1990s, the base was converted into a civil airport, the Baden Airpark, which is now the second-largest airport in Baden-Württemberg.
- Kurhaus — The Kurgarten (spa garden) at the Kurhaus annually hosts Baden-Baden Summer Nights, an outdoor event featuring live classical music concerts.
- Faberge Museum
- The Casino
- Caracalla Spa
- Lichtentaler Allee
- Sammlung Frieder Burda — One of Germany’s most extensive collections of modern art
- Old Castle “Hohenbaden”, built in 1102, a ruin since the 15th century
- New Castle (Neues Schloss), 15th century, former residence of the margraves of Baden and later of the grand dukes of Baden and now housing the historical museum
- The famous Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
- Ruins of Roman baths, ca. 2000 years old, excavated in 1847
- Stiftskirche, a church including the tombs of fourteen margraves of Baden
- “The Paradise” (Paradies), an Italian style Renaissance garden with lots of trick fountains
- Mount Merkur with Merkurbergbahn funicular railway and observation tower
- Fremersberg Tower
- Sturdza Chapel on the Michaelsberg, a Romanian chapel with a gilded dome which was erected over the tomb of prince Michel Sturdza’s so