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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Kenney

Baden Baden

‘’The Good, Good Life”

Baden Baden Casino
Baden Baden Casino (Copyright Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH)

“At that point I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it. …”


While in Baden Baden, Fyodor Dostoevsky frantically “wrote what he knew” in his short novel, The Gambler.  The year is 1866 and he needed to cover his gambling debt, so Dostoevsky takes his reader headlong into his gambling addiction.  Others, too, found inspiration here: Ivan Turgenev’s Smoke and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; composer Johannes Brahms.  Baden Baden has long been the destination for European elite.

Baden Baden (Copyright “Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH”.)


But before the Belle Epoque and Baden Baden’s famous casino, this picturesque valley at the foothills of the Black Forest was home to Germanic tribes.  Occupied by Romans, who valued the healing powers of its thermal springs (baden means bathe), it was Emperor Caracalla who oversaw the expansion of the baths.

Caracalla Baths (Copyright Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH)


In medieval times. this area was a historical territory of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Margravite of Baden was formed in 1112 and Baden Baden was the capital.  The castle, Burg Hohenbaden, was the seat of the Margraves of Baden from the 11th – 15th century.  The castle ruins still stand poised overlooking their domain and the castle is a fabulous place to explore.  For more views and local fare, stop in at the Biergarten Altes Schloss. The burial place for the Margraves of Baden can be found at Lichtenthal Monastery founded in 1245.  This is the oldest Cistercian abbey still in existence today.


Today, Baden Baden is a vibrant spa town and still preferred by the world’s “Who’s Who.”  In addition to it’s Baths, the town invites you to Europe’s largest concert hall, the “Art Mile”, markets in the charming Old Town, and strolls through beautiful parks and gardens.  There is ample opportunity to commune with nature.  If you’d like to walk in the footsteps of Queen Frederika Luise of Prussia, take the “Hasensprung” Panorama Walk.  Two hundred years ago, this leisurely one-hour walk, with wonderful vistas surrounding Baden Baden, was her favorite route.


Art lovers will want to visit the Frieder Burda museum, otherwise named the “Jewel in the Park” by New York architect, Richard Meier, who’s vision gave life to the award-winning structure.  The basis for the exhibit is the private collection of Frieder Burda.  A fascination and enthusiasm for color and emotional expression is the focus of Burda’s interest in art.  The collection draws together works of the 20th and 21st centuries. 


Baden Baden’s Tourist Information Office provides guided tours and a wealth of information about things to do and see in and around the city.

Delightful places to stay and dine abound.  The charming, family-owned Hotel Der Kleine Prinz is a comfortable little gem of a hotel in the Old Town city center, with French cuisine gourmet dining and a lovely courtyard to enjoy.  The décor hints of its namesake, The Little Prince novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. In the Lichenthaler Allee, situated on the banks of the little river, Oos, Atlantic Parkhotel provides classic, traditional ambiance surrounded by a private park.  It is an oasis of peaceful decorum, walking distance to all Baden Baden has to offer, with two first-class restaurants and a dining terrace overlooking the park. If you’re looking for casual dining without sacrificing gourmet delight, try Michelin-star Maltes Hidden Kitchen in the Old Town.  The modern, relaxed dining experience is very nouveau upscale offering something for everyone (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free) with an extravagant wine list.  Make a reservation!


Off the beaten path, perched high in the hills overlooking the rooftops of the town of Gernsbach, sits the castle, Schloss Eberstein.  This hotel offers period luxury and dining experiences extraordinaire.  Germany’s renowned Michelin-star chef, Bernd Werner, invites you to savor his gastronomic creations.  If you prefer regional fare with a flair, dine in the pub or settle on to one of the dining terraces nestled in the vineyard, as John and I did while enjoying an aperitif before dinner.

John and I enjoying an aperitif and view before dinner


Baden Baden’s location is perfect for touring the magical Black Forest, with pristine woods and lakes, quaint villages and the town of Triberg, home of the cuckoo clock and Triberg Falls.   Visit the university town of Freiburg and, maybe continue on to Basel, Switzerland. All are within an easy reach.  You can also cross the famous Rhein River and venture into France and the Alsace-Lorraine wine country.  We’ll cycle there another time!


Recover from your touring at the ultimate spa retreat, Sackmann Genusshotel, near the idyllic town of Baiersbronn, and enjoy “relaxation and indulgence in an exceptional landscape”.  Your hosts, the fourth generation of the Sackmann family, have a 90-year tradition as hoteliers in the Black Forest.  This modern, exquisite escape would leave nothing to be desired.


In 1865, Ivan Turgenev was said to have written to Gustave Flaubert.  “Do come to Baden Baden.  Here are the most magnificent trees I have ever seen.  They do wonders for the eyes and the soul.”

Lichtentaler Allee
Lichtentaler Allee (Copyright information “Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH”.)


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