- Thermal bath
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- Worth seeing
- Travel guide
Scene of world history and stage for prominent figures, artists and scholars – a stay in Bad Ems always means a cultural travel through time, through different epochs. Bad Ems is also called the “Emperor’s Spa”, an allusion to the most famous guest of the town, Emperor Wilhelm I. For nearly two decades he came to the health resort for recreation. Like him, many representatives of the European aristocracy, of dynasties, of the educated and elegant society streamed into the spa every year. They all helped Bad Ems achieve great fame and made it a “World Spa” at that time. Tsar Alexander II, King George IV from England, Queen Amalie from Greece, King Leopold I from Belgium – the list of the celebrities of that time is rather long. But the health resort can look back on a much older tradition. It is amongst the few spas in Germany that can verify an uninterrupted career as a spa since he Middle Ages. The impressive, palace like, baroque spa house and the baroque building “Zu den vier Türmen” (house with the four towers) are witnesses to that epoch.
Not only tsars, the Emperor and kings had a particular liking for the spa, but also artists of all fields stayed and worked in the health resort finding inspiration and relaxation here. Monuments and a good deal of art on the buildings of the town are witnesses of those famous guests. The composer Jacques Offenbach for example worked as a concert master here in Bad Ems for 12 years. Some of his works were performed for the first time in the “Cursaal” (Marble Hall). He composed parts of his opera “Orpheus in underground” during that time.
Fjodor Dostojewski, the great Russian writer, stayed here for recreation several times and worked on his novels “The Youth” and “The Karamasow Brothers”. He wrote about Bad Ems, “… the town is leaning against the rocks, the most picturesque ones in the world. There are promenades and gardens – and everything so charming.” Richard Wagner must have liked the place similarly. He stayed at “Schloss Balmoral” (Balmoral Palace) and completed his famous opera “Parzifal” here. Nikolai Gogol, Carl Maria von Weber, Victor Hugo or Johann Wolfgang von Goethe were other famous guests. The name of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the artist and philosopher from Vienna, is closely linked to Bad Ems, too. Up to now all his unmistakable components, which decorate his buildings and sculptures all over the world, have been produced in a workshop for ceramics rich in tradition. The workshop can be visited.
Thousands of years ago quite different people were fascinated by the beauty of the triangle between the Rhine, Moselle and Lahn rivers: the Celts and the Romans. They have left clearly visible traces behind, e.g. the “Limes”, today UNESCO World Heritage Site, Germany’s largest archaeological monument. Starting in Kemmenau you can go on a hike down into the Lahn valley following in old Romans’ footsteps. The watch-towers of the former Roman border rampart, e.g. near Arzbach, the Celtic graves in the forest near Becheln, the many palaces, castles and churches tell you about times long ago. In Frücht the neo-Gothic burial chapel of the former Prussian minister Freiherr von und zum Stein is worth visiting. He was the one who had the idea to abolish serfdom. In Dausenau visitors will expect medieval flair and will not only be amazed by its “leaning tower”.
The “Emser Depesche” has left the most famous trace in the health resort. The so-called Benedetti-Rock reminds an incident between King Wilhelm I, Earl Benedetti and Prince Bismarck, which led to the Franco-Prussian war 1870/71.
Those, who want to dive into the exciting history of Bad Ems, are recommended to take part in a guided tour
Museum of the city of Bad Ems:
Learn to know about the fascinating history of the Emperor's Spa.
Map of the town with sights:
Our map of the town, which you can order or download, describes the most important sights of the Emperor’s Spa with their history of origin.
» download map
"Bad Ems - Streifzug durch die Geschichte"
written by D. Hans-Jürgen Sarholz, town archivist and museum director,
118 pages, paperback, € 8.90
» order at the shop