Baden Spa Town

Baden, Austria

Baden bei Wien is a spa town in Austria. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spas of Europe'.

The celebrity of Baden dates back to the days of the Romans, some ruins are still visible. The nearby abbey of Heiligenkreuz's Romanesque church was constructed in the 11th century; it subsequently served as the burial place for members of the Babenberg family. The castle Rauheneck was constructed on the right bank of the river at the entrance to the valley in the 12th century; the castle Rauhenstein was built on the opposite bank at the same time. The town received its legal privileges in 1480. Although repeatedly sacked by Hungarians and Turks, it soon flourished again each time.

The town was largely destroyed by a fire in 1812 but was excellently rebuilt in a Biedermeier style. In the 19th century, it was connected to the railway running between Vienna and Graz, which led to thousands of Viennese visiting each year to take the waters, including members of the imperial family, who constructed extensive villas nearby. The town boasted a theater, military hospital, and casino. The composer Ludwig van Beethoven stayed a number of times in Baden and his residences still form local tourist spots. 

By the time of the First World War, Baden was Vienna's principal resort: 20 000 came each year, double the town's local population. In addition to a modern 'spa house' (Kurhaus), there were 15 separate bathing establishments and several parks. A new casino in 1934 made the town the premier resort throughout Austria. The Château Weilburg was destroyed during World War II. After World War II, Baden served as the headquarters of Soviet forces within occupied Austria until 1955.

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Baden, Austria
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Founded: Roman Age
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Austria

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.