The Badenweiler Roman bath ruins (Römische Badruine Badenweiler) are among the most significant Roman remains in Baden-Württemberg. To this day, the complex remains the best pre-served Roman spa north of the Alps.
When the Romans conquered this region in what is now southwestern Germany, they brought with them their established custom of bathing. Many of the thermal springs that had been used by the Celts became Roman spas. The bath in Badenweiler was constructed in several phases. In the second half of the first century AD, a small building housing two pools was erected. This was later followed by a reception area, changing facilities, the Roman equivalent of a sauna, with two cold pools, and stone terraces.
The Roman bath ruins have retained their symmetrical structure. The pools for warm and cold water still have their original surfaces. And large parts of the relaxation room and sauna area, which were lined with sandy limestone, also remain. The remains of the hypocaust heating system – a forerunner of today’s underfloor heating provide a further point of interest.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the distinctive bathing tradition also began to wane. The Badenweiler complex had long been forgotten – until it was rediscovered and excavated by Margrave Carl Friedrich von Baden in 1784. In the late 19 th century, the ancient spa received a more contemporary counterpart: marble Neoclassicalstyle baths that were extensively extended during the subsequent decades. The natural springs, with temperatures up to 26.4 °C, were enjoyed in Roman times and form the basis for Badenweiler’s status as a spa town today. Since 2001, a spectacular, multiple award-winning glass roof, designed by Stuttgart engineers Schlaich, Bergermann und Partner, has protected the historical site.
The permanent exhibition at the bath ruins offers an insightful look at the Roman culture of bathing and provides fascinating facts about the entire complex.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.