Bad Kreuznach & Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg: double the fun
Bad Kreuznach & Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg: double the fun
When it comes to choosing a German city to explore, here’s a handy rule of thumb: if the name has a “Bad” in it, it’s usually pretty good. This tour has not one, but two “Bads” to its name: today we’re off to explore the neighboring towns of Bad Kreuznach and Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg by means of a three-mile riverside walking tour between these two appealing and history-rich towns in the heart of the Rhineland-Palatinate.
Our tour starts in the larger of the two towns, Bad Kreuznach. This spa town is located alongside the Nahe River, some 12 miles south of the point at which it meets the Rhine. Settled in the Stone Age, inhabited by the Celts, upgraded by the Romans and used as a place of rest for Frankish kings on tour, salt and healing waters have counted amongst its main attractions over the most recent centuries. Up until the point when the 1st Armored Division headquarters relocated to Wiesbaden and the 410th Base Support Battalion closed up shop in 2001, a steady stream of Americans called the place home.
Meander down the Mannheimer Strasse, the city’s main pedestrian drag, in the direction of the river. Once you’ve reached the Kornmarkt square, grab your place in line and treat yourself to a cool creamy treat from Vannini, gelato-maker extraordinaire. Cone or cup in hand, make way to the riverside and admire the pink baroque towered church across your way, the Pauluskirche. In the mid-19th century, when Bad Kreuznach enjoyed popularity amongst visitors from England, a chapel within its east choir would hold services according to Anglican rites. In 1843, the economist and philosopher Karl Marx exchanged wedding vows with Jenny von Westphalen here.
Now look upon the bridge to your right, the Alte Nahebrücke. It’s not every day you find a bridge upon which a house is perched, let alone four. The stone bridge dates back to around 1300, and the houses themselves were erected between 1480 and 1612. If you’d care to gaze upon this unique landmark for a little longer, order a drink at one of the riverside cafés or rent a pedal boat from Naheverkehr.
On the opposite side of the bridge, the town grows cuter as its old core is revealed. Explore the handful of interesting shops found here and stock up on cold drinks for the rest of the tour. Now make way to the path running alongside the river. With the Nahe to your left, stroll alongside the rushing waters. It won’t be long until you see a large round turquoise pool. In non-pandemic times, that pool will be teeming with visitors enjoying a soak in frothy warm mineral water. Why not join them? A three-hour visit to the Crucenia Therme would only set you back 8.50 euros. Cross the pedestrian-only bridge back into town. If it’s open, the tourist info point to your left can set you up with maps and useful information.
The heart of any “Bad” town is its spa: in Bad Kreuznach, that’s the Bäderhaus. With plenty of saunas, a steam room, Jacuzzi and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, it’s the perfect place to soak away your troubles—that is, if you’re comfortable in your own skin. The entire facility is textile free.
The stately hotel to your right, the Parkhotel Kurhaus, dates back to 1913 and has witnessed plenty of history in its time. During World War I, the hotel hosted the German military headquarters, and it was the military seat of the last kaiser, Wilhelm II. From 1916 to 1918, important heads of state met here, and in World War II, the hotel was occupied alternately by French and American troops. In 1958, the French President Charles de Gaulle and Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer met here to negotiate the French-German friendship pact. Stroll through the adjacent Kurpark to see what’s blooming at the moment or cool off weary feet in the Kneipe treading pool.
Walking is thirsty work, so reward yourself with a fresh cold beer. The Brauwerk brewery isn’t as old as you might guess, having opened in 2010, but these craft beer brewers already have their recipes down pat. The attached restaurant, Salinas, takes its name from the series of saline walls in your midst. Known as Gradierwerke in German, the point of this odd wooden construction, in which briny waters trickle through frames covered with seaweed-like clumps of blackthorn brushwood, is to create a quality of air beneficial to those with respiratory ailments. This salty air won’t do a healthy body any harm either.
An outdoor swimming pool is also found in this unique area known as the Saline Valley. If you’re visiting during the summer months, a visit to the scenically-situated oasis is a budget-friendly option for families. In the summer of 2021, an indoor pool will be added to the existing facilities.
As you continue along the Nahe, your two-for-one deal kicks in as you approach the much smaller, but no less pleasant, town of Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg. This town’s spa gardens really impress not only with their neat manicuring and series of charming half-timbered houses in the middle, but for their backdrop: an almost sheer cliff face rising up from the opposite banks of the river.
Still feeling energetic? Board the hand-pulled, pedestrian-only ferry to the opposite shore and follow the signage to the top of the Rheingrafenstein mountain, topped by castle ruins. Your efforts for this rather steep, half-hour climb will be rewarded with fantastic views over the Nahe Valley.
A German town without a castle? That should be against the law! The mighty Ebernburg Castle, home to the Knights of Sickingen for four centuries, looms large above the town. Nowadays, it offers guest rooms geared to families and space for conferences, as well as a small museum.
The Nahe may be one of Germany’s smaller wine-producing regions, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of the end product. The area’s Rieslings are held in particularly high regard. Before departing Bad Münster, drop by one of wineries in the Ebernburg section of town for a bottle or two to go, or, if the day is sunny and warm, soak up some rays at an outdoor table before calling it a day.
If you’ve left a vehicle behind in Bad Kreuznach, buy your ticket (3.50 euros) and hop the train back one station to where you’re parked. If you took public transportation, just board the train for your homebound journey. From Bad Münster am Stein, you’re a 55-minute straight-shot to Kaiserslautern, an hour and 15 minutes away from Baumholder or an hour and a half’s ride from Wiesbaden, with a single change of station in Mainz.
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