The spa town of Bad Wildungen is located at the foothills of the Kellerwald. The town is one of the largest rehabilitation and spa locations in Germany, but also offers the ideal starting point for excursions into the Waldecker Land region away from the daily routine of the clinic.
Bad Wildungen became famous for its healing springs and attracted the first people looking for a cure as early as 1350. Today, there are more than 20 clinics in the town that offer the most modern therapies to help patients regenerate.
The spa gardens in Bad Wildungen
The town’s beautiful spa park is considered the longest spa park in Europe and invites you to take relaxing walks. The grounds are a good 6 kilometres long and connect Bad Wildungen with the district of Reinhardtshausen.
The spa park is also popular for walking and jogging. There are 11 landscaped terrain cure trails that help to get fit again. These paths vary in length and also have different degrees of difficulty (e.g. gradients). Moderate walking in combination with the climatic conditions in the region should help to increase performance. In addition, there are 6 signposted running trails (circuits) with a length of 1200 to 8400 metres and total ascents of 19 to 134 metres in altitude. Here, recreational runners can specifically train their endurance.
However, the majority of visitors to the spa park use the paths for strolling, taking a break on the benches and loungers and enjoying the beautiful parkland with its diverse nature.
Buildings in the spa gardens
In the spa park there are several buildings like those found in many spa resorts. These were renovated and repaired from 1949 onwards by the government building director Rappold. During the Second World War, the entire complex had suffered greatly. For example, the spa park had been used as a kind of car park for trucks and tanks, and trucks had even driven through the Wandelhalle. Today, the buildings are listed.
Work began in 1949 in the old Badehotel, a building complex that is now part of the Maritim Hotel Bad Wildungen.
On my walk through the Kurpark, I was first drawn to the concert shell (1954). This is used for concerts and lends a maritime flair. Below the concert shell is a small lake with a fountain, a family of swans waddled past me as I made my way towards the Kurpark café.
The Kurpark Café is a typical building of the 1950s; the old hall had to be demolished due to severe damage. The bright open façade faces the Kurpark.
Not far away is the Wandelhalle. It was built in 1888 as a cast-iron Wandelhalle around the Georg Viktor spring. In the course of the redesign, the ambulatory was closed and the interior was made usable. Today it houses a museum on the subject of healing springs, event rooms, an information centre and a room in which the water from three healing springs bubbles.
Healthy water – does it taste good?
There are 15 springs in Bad Wildungen from which the healing water bubbles. Treatments include kidney, bladder and urinary tract disorders, metabolic diseases and circulatory problems. I have to admit that after tasting the healing water in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, I was rather sceptical about the taste of the water.
The springs are not only located in the spa park, but also along paths in the middle of nature. It is best to always take a cup with you on your walks to drink the healthy water.
Healing water is one of the oldest natural remedies and can positively influence the healing process and well-being. Each of the springs that rise in Bad Wildungen has a different mineral composition and so there are a variety of possible applications.
In the spring dome of the Wandelhalle, you can drink three different medicinal waters from different sources. It is important to note that even if the water has purely natural ingredients, you should talk to a doctor before taking a drinking cure or regularly drinking water from medicinal springs. Even “too much” of minerals can be harmful to the body. Especially if you are deficient in certain minerals such as iron or magnesium, you should consult a doctor to find out which spring is the right one and how often you should drink it. Special glasses with measuring units help to determine the amount. Traditionally, healing water is drunk in small sips and while “walking” (strolling). This way, the water flushes the body well.
Drinking water in the spring dome
I went into the spring dome and was very surprised at what awaited me there. Each spring could be tapped at a very modern “water dispenser”. Small plastic cups were available and there was also an extra container for “too much” water. The whole room was equipped with mirrors and very stylish.
Of course I had to try the three sources, of course only one sip at a time, because I had not sought medical advice beforehand.
The Three Springs in the Spring Dome
In 1378, the Georg Viktor spring was discovered in Bad Wildungen and the Wandelhalle was later built around this spring. The natural healing water is a magnesium-calcium-hydrogen carbonate acidulant. It is used, among other things, for urinary tract disorders and to promote digestion. I was very surprised when I read what quantities one should drink daily according to medical prescription – up to 1.5 litres! My test sip surprised me. The water contains carbonic acid and did not taste bad at all.
The second spring I tried was the Waldquelle. This was first drilled in 1958, but the water has only been used since 1963. The water comes from a depth of 250 metres. This water contains other minerals (calcium magnesium sodium hydrogen carbonate acidulose) and is used to improve the calcium and magnesium supply, among other things. One should drink 1-2 litres per day. Here, too, I was pleasantly surprised by the test sip, even though I can imagine that with the amount of water needed, one would prefer to drink something else.
Finally, I tasted the water from the Helenenquelle spring, which was named after Princess Helene of Waldeck. The spring was first enclosed in 1696. The healing water is a sodium-magnesium-calcium-hydrogen carbonate-chloride acidulant and is recommended, for example, for gastrointestinal complaints. The amount of water recommended by doctors is 1.5-2.5 litres a day. Maybe I didn’t taste much after the two previous samples, but I couldn’t tell a clear difference.
All three medicinal water samples were in any case much more pleasant in taste than the samples I tasted in Karlovy Vary. The water was cold, fresh and did not taste as musty as in the Czech Republic.
Walk through the Golden Gardens of Bad Wildungen
In 2006, the Hessian State Garden Show took place in Bad Wildungen. The existing spa park was extended to include a new area that offers space for sports as well as relaxation. Two renaturalised stream valleys were used to create a connection that ended below Friedrichstein Castle.
Coming from the spa park, you cross a road and go down the sun stairs. There you will find the “Golden Gardens”, which are intended to remind you of the heyday of the spa around 1900. Below a retaining wall are salons and cabinets enclosed by hedges with different themes. Fortunately there were some signs, because I would not have realised from the planting that the four human qualities of virtue, pleasure, leisure and vanity and the themes such as transience, eternity and return are depicted there.
As an example, I looked at the Cabinet of Virtue and the Cabinet of Pleasure. Virtue is depicted with a garden surrounded by thorns and a four-poster bed surrounded by roses. It is supposed to symbolise the decision whether to succumb to temptation or remain virtuous. In the Cabinet of Pleasure, the male meets the female world. The male half is depicted straight-lined, in cool colours, upright angular. The female half is characterised by lush vegetation, strong colours and a soft curved wall.
My favourite place, however, was the Cabinet of Leisure. Lying on one of the white cloud loungers, I came much closer to the description that one should recharge one’s batteries here, and the possibility to look at things from a distance.
If you continue along the path through the well-maintained green space, you will come to the experience gardens, where the 5 senses are to be addressed, a boules court, a sports field and a meadow orchard. Crossing a wooden footbridge, you finally reach the path that leads up to Friedrichstein Castle.
Through the forest to Friedrichstein Castle
High up on the Schlossberg hill in Bad Wildungen is Friedrichstein Castle. The footpath to the castle leads on steep paths through the wooded hill. A very beautiful, albeit strenuous, way uphill, which was rewarded in between again and again with a beautiful view over the town.
The Count of Thuringia had a Gothic castle built on the 303-metre-high mountain in 1200. Through his marriage, he had become the Count of Wildungen and the castle served as his official residence, administration and jurisdiction over his land. In 1260, the property passed to the Counts of Waldeck. In 1663, the castle began to be converted into a Baroque palace. Over the years, each inhabitant incorporated his or her own tastes and wishes into smaller and larger alterations to the castle.
After the First World War, the estate went to the Free State of Waldeck. The living quarters were leased out, a hotel moved in and from 1921 there was a youth hostel of the Hessian Mountain Association in the lower rooms. In the 1930s, the NSDAP used the castle as a training centre.
After the Second World War, the state of Hesse took over the castle and today it houses the hunting museum. In addition, there is a café in the building that also uses a large terrace in front of the south wing, from which you have a fantastic view of the old town.
Half-timbered houses and Brunnenallee – the contrasts of Bad Wildungen
The townscape of Bad Wildungen is characterised by two different stylistic eras. Strolling through the old town, you are surrounded by beautiful half-timbered houses. Some of the houses date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Town church in the old town
The steeple of the Protestant town church is clearly visible in the town. The church stands on the highest point of the town hill and you should not miss taking a look inside the nave.
The Wildung altar is the most valuable piece of equipment. The winged altar dates from 1403 or 1404 (unfortunately, the exact number is no longer legible in the inscription) and was created by Conrad von Soest. It is considered one of the most important works of German panel painting.
When opened, the altar measures 189 × 611 cm and is beautifully painted. On the outside of the wings are depictions of St. Catherine, St. John, St. Elizabeth and St. Nicholas. The inner wings show images of the Childhood and the Passion of Christ and the Crucifixion in the centre. I find it particularly exciting that one of the pictures shows a person wearing glasses. It is said to be the oldest depiction of glasses north of the Alps and I have to admit that I would not have known that glasses already existed around 1403.
Brunnenallee is about one kilometre long and is considered the city’s hotel and promenade.
In contrast to the architecture in the old town, the houses on Brunnenallee are characterised by Wilhelminian-style buildings from the last third of the 19th century.
On Brunnenallee you will also find some of the city’s landmarks.
The fountain nymph was created by the Berlin sculptor Richard Wagner around 1928. The young nymph kneels on a globe and offers the healing water, which is considered the city’s most precious commodity, to the people.
In the immediate vicinity is the Wildung “Schlute”, a cheeky little leprechaun who is considered the guardian of the spring water. He owes his name to the old tightly sealed clay pots in which water used to be stored and shipped.
Yes, and what would a spa town be without a spa shadow. The Kurschattenbrunnen (spa shadow fountain) vividly depicts this phenomenon, which is probably present in every spa town. The people of Wildung are said to have been less than happy when the fountain was inaugurated in 1987. The figures, some of which were quite revealing, did not meet with the approval of all the townspeople.
I like the fountain quite a bit, as it quite clearly shows a cliché about life during the spa that is still preserved today. Especially the older man bathing, who almost stares with stylish eyes at an attractive female figure, fulfils almost all the prejudices one can have.
Travel information about Bad Wildungen
Coming from the A 49, Bad Wildungen is easily reached via the B 253. Those arriving via the A 485 continue on the B 3, B 485 and B 253 to Bad Wildungen.
From Kassel-Stadtmitte, the regional bus line 500 takes about 1.15 h to the city. The bus stops there at the “Breiter Hagen” station at the end of Brunnenallee and there are connections with the city bus.
A regional train arrives at the town’s railway station every 2 hours. This runs on the Kassel – Bad Wildungen route. The next long-distance connection is in Wabern. If you are travelling by ICE, you can board the regional train in Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe.
From the train station in Bad Wildungen, the city bus 1 goes to the old town, along Brunnenallee to Reinhardshausen.
On the way in …
4 bus lines run through the city centre every 30 minutes. The central bus stop (“Treffpunkt”) is located at the northern end of Brunnenallee. The regional bus lines also leave from this area.
With the spa card you can use the city bus free of charge in the districts of Bad Wildungen (with the old town and Brunnenallee), Altwildungen and Reitzenhagen as well as Reinhardshausen.
The cycling network is being expanded more and more. Some beautiful routes are already signposted.
The city area is quite hilly, but you can easily explore the old town and Brunnenallee on foot. The Kurpark and the former landscape garden park are almost flat and are ideal for a walk.
Those who want to explore the area on foot will find numerous well-signposted hiking trails.
There is a coloured parking guidance system in Bad Wildungen. The existing public parking spaces are subject to charges. Only the Kaiserlindeneck multi-storey car park, the car park at the Fetten Hagen and the parking deck of the Fürstengalerie at the Breiten Hagen are free of charge.
Guest Card / Tourist Tax
Upon arrival, you will receive a spa card from your host or the rehabilitation clinic, which is valid for the entire stay. Upon receipt of the card, the tax (ranging from €1.30 to €2.60 per day) is paid.
With the guest card you can use it free of charge:
- Public bus – blue city buses
- City Museum
- Source Museum
- Museum of the Old Mining Office
- Spa concerts by the Bad Wildung Spa Orchestra
- Tea dance in the Wandelhalle, Sundays
Discounts are available from the following suppliers:
- Heloponte Family Bath
- Friedrichstein Castle
- City and adventure tours
The stay in Bad Wildungen took place as part of a blogger trip organised by Maritim Hotels and Antje Zimmermann.