From Karlsruhe we departed for a half day tour of the famous Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden. This small town of about 55,000 residents is famous for its twelve salt and radon rich thermal hot springs that spring up from a depth of some 6,000 feet under ground. Once the site of Roman Baths, this picturesque town was Europe’s celebrity resort in the 1800’s.
We visited the the beautiful Lichtentaler Allee historic park set along the west bank of the Oos River. This park was believed to have begun in 1655 as a path between the town market and the Lichtenthal monastery. Between 1850 and 1870 it was planted with a wide variety of trees and plants. Today the avenue contains about 3000 native plants and trees including azaleas, alders, chestnuts, ginkgos, magnolias, maples, oaks and sycamore trees.
Adjoining the park is the famous Kurhaus or Casino Baden-Baden begun in 1838, where the rich and famous have come for more than 150 years to gamble. This extraordinary ornate and overdone casino is open from 2:00pm daily until 2:00am. The interior includes ornate gilded statuary, extensive wall murals, elaborate chandeliers, red brocade upholstered walls and more. They require gentlemen to wear a jacket and women to be well dressed for admission. Since it was before opening time, they allowed us to take a tour of the casino and to photograph inside.
Our next stop was the Trinkhalle or water pump house built in 1839 to 1842. This building has a 300-foot-long covered arcade lined with frescoes and benches to rest. Inside the structure there is a water faucet flowing non-stop with hot spring waters believed to have curative powers. The tourist information office and a restaurant are located in this building today.
We enjoyed lunch onboard and a relaxing afternoon on the River Splendor river boat. To fill the afternoon, they offered a wine tasting of local red wines, a high tea with a variety of delicious cakes and cookies and a tour of the ships galley.