Baden- Baden- The shiny diamond of the Black Forest
Updated: Aug 21
The notorious Russian writer stormed into the sumptuous Casino. He was pale and around his piercing dark blue eyes appeared red circles.
A bunch of players around the long table, stopped for a moment. They were whispering to each other.
He thought he could see them smiling deviously. He sweated underneath his velvet brown jacket.
"It is madness to play again. I own already so much money to the fellow standing in the middle" He sank into his gloomy thoughts.
He perceived in a distance a young woman in a purple dress. She was sitting on a sofa, the lights blurred him." Was she looking at him? Did he see her before?"
He walked fiercely towards the gambling table...
If I had to write a scene picturing the wordily known author Dostoyevsky entering the Casino in Baden-Baden in the 19th Century, That would have been the opening of the scene.
Traveling at the end of Mai to Baden- Baden was something I longed to do. I have visited Baden-Baden in the past a few times, during my studies in Strasbourg. It was comfortable to travel. ( it is only 40 minutes drive by train). From the first time I saw it, I fell under its charm. It appeared like a luxurious stone dazzling in the dark forest.
It doesn't need much to sparkle your imagination while you're in Baden-Baden.
I was immediately immersed in its beauty. It allowed me, a literature student, to plunge into the world of the 19th century: The enigmatic, passionate, and lavish lifestyle which led the protagonists of a good novel from that period. The classical books I read by Flaubert, Maupassant, and Dostoyevsky came alive.
Each time I entered through the "golden gates" of this city; it was like I was transported back in time.
End of May 2022- Visiting Baden-Baden
The first thing I did was, have late lunch in one of the old café establishments, " The Cafe König " and its royal name suits him entirely. It has a majestic atmosphere, like one of an ancient Opera house, I was taken straight away to the 19th century. Baden Baden preserved this era perfectly with many sumptuous buildings, elegant restaurants, and cafés.
The omelet and the salad I ate in this elegant dining room were very delicious.
Baden-Baden has always attracted people from all over Europe due to its spring water. The fantastic Black Forest surrounds the city, and the generous nature of the woods embodies it. When I strolled in the town, I enjoyed contemplating the harmonious landscape, and I could notice the Black Forest. From afar, it invites the visitor to go and explore layers of green and gives the feeling of depths and mystery even more to Baden-Baden.
I love the sight of a city with a river. The river Oos flows through the town and under charming, old bridges.
Places to visit and where to walk
In Baden-Baden, enjoy the flair, wherever you go, you will be enchanted.
There were a few great activities to do while I was there for the weekend. But also, some spontaneous moments that made the experience special.
The Trinkhalle- Pump roomThe drinking hall, just right by the Kurhaus.
A marvelous building with warm colours, it was built in the 19th, and it was initially created as a place where visitors could drink from the healing water. Still, nowadays, it is a beautiful building to visit, decorated with drawings of the painter Jacob Gotenzberger describing legends from the region.
You can have a wine taste inside the establishment. It is nice to chill out there at late afternoon.
At night the city enlightens strikingly and glows. The theater building was remarkably lightened.
There is an outdoor stage for classical concerts. That evening, it was slightly colder and rainy, so the Philharmonic orchestra's performance took place indoors in the Kurhaus Haus.
I enjoyed sitting in that magnificent hall, which made the experience of being "in the Belle Epoque" even more incredible.
When You are strolling on the narrow-paved streets of this city, you forget about time. "The Leopold Platz." is a good start. From there, you walk on the main shopping street," Lange Strasse," as its name in German: a long and curved road, with various boutiques. You find nice cafés, restaurants, and ice cream places, all along and on both sides of the street, and it is always good to choose an alley that takes you up the hill, to the old town.
The sight of the "Friedrichsbad" An old and stylish bathing swimming pool, outside is splendid. I didn't enter inside, but the view even from the outside is spectacular. It is located by another impressive church, "the stiftskirche "the city's famous church.
Lichtentaler Allee- The illuminated Path
Every trip to a place has a highlight. During the short weekend in Baden- Baden, there were a few.
One of them is the walk on the "lichtentaler Allee"
In German-The enlightened walk. The stroll through the park passing by many wonderful views of villas and gardens was a lighted and spiritual experience.
I recommend it to everyone who comes to Baden- Baden. It has charged me with energy and a good mood.
All the colours of nature sparkled with the sunlight.
I passed a stunning rose garden, the roses had a strong perfume scent. I could have stayed in this garden the whole afternoon, combination of the sun and the rose's scent made me nearly drunk.
But I continued, and the path was exceptionally smooth and full of sights.
Eventually, I reached an old monastery- The Lichtenthal Abbey. It is very ancient and inspires calmness, with a charming café offering a large section of homey cakes at affordable prices.
Resting in this Café after I did this walk soaked with impressions, felt like a merited treat.
Another nice activity is to take the Merkur funicular. From Leopold Platz in the city center, I reached the Funicular location after a short ride by bus ( 204, 205). It was fun to go up with the cable car to the pic of Merkur mountain and to enjoy all the blossoms of the spring. Many beautiful flowers waited for me. Each season there will be other captivating sights.
I decided after I have returned back with the funicular, not to take the bus but to walk to the center of town.
It was the right choice as the walk down was smooth and filled with astonishing views. Another perspective to see Baden Baden and its amazing architecture and nature.
It was the first time I explored Baden Baden deeply and not just for a couple of hours. I allowed myself taking decisions spontaneously, I met a friendly couple, and the man advised me to see the concert in the "Festpiel Haus.
a colossal concert hall, one of the greatest in Europe.
"You must see the concert of Gustav Mahler played by Baden Baden and Stuttgart's Philharmonic, I think it is played only today." He told me.
It was only 15 minutes walk from the town center.
I even had the time to have a coffee on a hotel rooftop just in front of the Festspiel Haus. I enjoyed the sweet sunshine of an early spring evening
The acoustic in the hall is exceptional and I recommend this experience to anyone who appreciate classical concerts.
In Baden Baden, the city of Spa, there is the famous swimming pool with thermal water, Caracalla Spa. It is worth going there also to admire the architecture of the famous establishment.
It was relaxing to stay in the hot water and have a healthy pause from wandering in the city.
On the last day of my stay, I visited the Casino. No surprise the famous Russian Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Gogol wanted to gamble there again and again. It was inspiring also for their writings. The actress Marlene Dietrich named it "The most beautiful Casino in the world."
You would think you are in a palace when you see the magnificent decoration in the style of "la Belle Epoque". In this extravagant adornment, you are more in a ballroom than a casino.
The Casino in the 19th century flourished when the French manager Jacques Benazet handled it and he gave the Casino that glamourous touch.
In Baden Baden there are few museums, as the museum of Frieder Burda. I visited the museum of the "Staatliche Kunsthalle".( right beside it)
I love that provocative art is integrated into a classical old town and nature, and therefore it was interesting to discover the exhibition (Scrutura 22 ends on (October 03/22) at the Altes Dampfbad up on the hill. "The slim man" the sculpture of the artist Hirofumi Fujiwara, was exposed there among other original sculptures.
As much as I appreciate Modernism in art, one of the main reasons I enjoyed thoroughly my staying in Baden- Baden, was that it felt like being in another decade, with the most refined taste in architecture and gardens.
It made my journey precious.
It is not often that I visit a city that maintained so well its original identity and allowed me to "escape" for a weekend from the fast technological times we live in.
On my way back to Strasbourg I was already filled with nostalgia, leaving behind me this shiny jewel of the Black Forest.
I was staying in hotel Merkur- right in the center of town but on a quiet street. This hotel provided me with a most pleasant experience in this elegant and super comfortable establishment.
The staff was friendly and helpful. I loved the humor of the charming chef, in the breakfast dining room, and the delicious coffee was served in a pot, and not from a machine.
For a very good dinner: Moderne cuisine, and heating outside( attention the restaurant is very popular so advisable to book a place)
I enjoyed the explanations of the city guide who informed me with patience and joy about a city she loves so much Svenja Weyer
Many thanks to the Global Marketing manager in the tourism office of Baden-Baden Baden Katja Flann.
Photos credit- Niva Josef