Great Spas of Europe (Germany)
Great Spas of Europe (Germany) has been part of the Tentative list of Germany.
The Great Spas of Europe are a group of eleven spa towns from seven countries that represents the development of European spa tradition from its roots in the antiquity to the peak in the 19. and early 20. century. The architecture and urban layout of the selected towns illustrate this tradition. The focus is not only on the spa buildings, like Kurhaus, pump rooms, and colonnades. The property also includes parks, casinos, theatres, luxury hotels and villa districts. The German part includes the spa towns Baden Baden, Bad Ems, and Bad Kissingen.
Map of Great Spas of Europe (Germany)Load map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Currently residing in Bad Homburg, I was pleased to learn that it is planned to be included as a part of this transnational proposal. If successful, this would make small Bad Homburg home of two WHS, the other one being Kastell Saalburg, the most significant part of the Limes in Germany.
Germany is home to many spa towns and indeed many also feature in this proposal. Bad Homburg used to be, and still is, one of the most prominent ones. Until WWII it was also quite international, with prominent guests coming for treatments, entertainment and social contacts.
The most prominent element of this site is the huge spa park designed by the famous French garden architect Lenne, who additionally planned the spa park in nearby Wiesbaden. Many functional and ornamental structures are scattered in the park: a bathhouse (of course), an orangerie, a historical tennis court, a historical golf course - first in Germany, a casino, a pond, a Russian Orthodox church and even a Thai Buddhist temple. The last two constitute evidence of the international nature of the Bad Homburg clientele. There are also several fountains and monuments. Everything is well kept and survived the destruction of WWII. Only the interior of the bathhouse did not fully survive.
A major lose, on the other hand, was the Kurhaus, an establishment found in every spa town that housed the cultural events. It was famous and lavishly decorated. A visit to the well preserved Kurhaus in nearby Wiesbaden can demonstrate what was once standing in Bad Homburg too. Now an ugly modern building stands there, but plans are underway to reconstruct the facade of the historical Kurhaus. I wonder how Icomos might react to that.
Next to the spa park is the Kaiser Friedrich Promenade, where many historical villas stand. Most of them are well kept and show the wealth of Bad Homburg's historical residents.
It is interesting to compare Bad Homburg to nearby Wiesbaden, a fellow candidate in this serial nomination. Unlike Bad Homburg, Wiesbaden was not bombarded during WWII and its magnificent historical buildings all survived unaltered. Wiesbaden features an impressive ensemble of monumental buildings: the casino, the spa theatre and the bathhouse. Bad Homburg features nothing parallel in the category of monumental architecture. On the other hand, the park in Bad Homburg is much larger and rich in monuments. Wiesbaden developed into a true industrial city. It has a large boulevard next to the spa monuments, but no historical residential villas on it.
Comparing the two, it is interesting to see how the concept of serial nomination works: Bad Homburg and Wiesbaden are not just good exemplars of historic spa towns each. They also represent different aspects of the same phenomenon. Knowing Baden-Baden, Baden bei Wien and Franzensbad, I consider this transnational serial nomination to be a valuable addition to the WH list. I would also recommend visiting more that one of the towns on the proposal in order to grasp the ideal of the spa town at the turn of the century.
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- Great Spas of Europe (Germany)
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