Bad Emstal — History Lessons From Hot Springs

History is a fascinating subject, don’t you think? Sure it’s possible some people might not agree with that, but I won’t hold it against them. Then again, they might find themselves in the Hessian town of Bad Emstal — and totally find themselves agreeing with me.

There’s more to Bad Emstal than just history; and its name proves it. Its “Bad” designation means it’s a spa town — so prepare your self for being pampered from its hot springs.

Bad Emstal is new to the whole spa thing, only since the 1970s, but they’ve managed to get it right in such a short period of time.

Good forty years ago is but a mere drip in Bad Emstal’s history. One of its oldest sites dates back to the second millennium B.C. — which you’ll see if you head to the Altenburg, a prehistoric castle.

Much younger than the Altenburg, but still old, is the Burgruine Falkenstein. This is a true medieval Romanesque castle, with walls some 1.4 meters thick. Wow, there was no getting out of that dungeon.

The Middle Ages made a real impact here — best seen by the Romanesque Abbey Church at the Kloster Merxhausen. Or, should I say, at what used to be the Kloster Merxhausen — a convent built in 1213. It was used by nuns until a fire destroyed it in 1475, only to be rebuilt by another monastery in the 1480s. For the last 500 years the monastery has been a hospital — a psychiatric one today. It doesn’t stop it from being the venue for the Monastery Games, held every two years.

After the Middle Ages came the Renaissance; and the Castle Riede. Wait, that’s not true since some of the castle’s original walls came from the 13th century; and the original construction on it started in 1074. It just didn’t have the English Gardens back then, like it’s got now.

Bad Emstal’s Protestant Church in the village of Balhorn has changed over the years, too. It started out as a simple medieval church, became a fortified one in 1488 (hey, that were rough times & people had to stay safe), got a Gothic facelift, and a Baroque renovation in the 18th century.

Just don’t confuse it with the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church — which is a 20th century design.

Either way, history is history. And I’m glad to have learned a good deal of it in Bad Emstal. I’m even happier that I got to soak in a spa afterwards. ;-)

 

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