Germany’s highlight: Bad Kissingen

Germany’s highlight: Bad Kissingen

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Just a two-hour drive from Frankfurt or Nuremberg, or a half-hour’s ride from Würzburg, the regal spa town of Bad Kissingen beckons with splendid scenery, a rich history peopled with famed personalities and healing mineral waters.

In a town offering ample space to roam, three parks, in particular, stand out: the Spa Garden, the Rose Garden and the Luitpold Park.

A spa town then and now

Bad Kissingen, a spa town in Bavaria’s Lower Franconia region, enjoys an enviable location. Framed by the Rhön Mountains and Saale River, its rich mineral waters have attracted guests for centuries.

By the 19th century, the town was already a fashionable resort, attracting royalty and the who’s who of the day, including Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Otto von Bismarck, Leo Tolstoy and numerous others. When the Austro-Prussian War raged, Kissingen saw fierce battle between Bavarian and Prussian troops. On the fateful day of July 10, 1866, the Prussians emerged victorious.

Today, the spiffy city that’s home to some 22,500 residents attracts a stream of visitors year-round. Those suffering from medical ailments come for rehabilitation, vacationers seek tranquility and day-trippers eagerly soak up its regal atmosphere. Its seductive spa culture of swimming pools, saunas and Jacuzzis is a major draw, and for fans of warm water fun, a visit to the KissSalis thermal baths should not be missed.

But there’s no need to disrobe to enjoy this city at the crossroads of history. Graceful parks, green spaces and blossoming beauty make this the place for leisurely strolls or sitting on a bench and watching the world go by.

Green spaces abound

The Kurgarten, or spa garden, is five refined acres of palms and statuary, spectacularly offset by a handsome arcaded building. Inside the Max Temple, cure-takers sip mineral-rich waters rising from a natural spring. The garden, which was commissioned by King Ludwig I in 1834, is replanted three times yearly to ensure blooms match the seasons. The Kurgarten Café offers a cup of tea before continuing explorations.

A stone’s throw away is the Rosengarten, in which 125 varieties of the fragrant flower flaunt their exquisiteness. The park’s so-called multimedia fountain is one-of-a-kind in Germany. Jets of water dance to musical compositions at set hours of the day, and when darkness falls, images are projected onto a screen made of millions of water particles.

The Luitpoldpark, a 37-acre landscape garden sculpted after the English style, offers space to roam. In early spring, crocuses and daffodils raise their pretty heads. In summer, the rose promenade is a treat for all senses. Come autumn, the leaves of the rare species of trees take on yellow and copper hues. The Pavilion of Religions symbolizes the desire for peaceful unity between all faiths. The park’s paved paths are great for joggers, the meadows are suited for leisurely picnics or tossing a Frisbee and hidden nooks make ideal spots for lovers’ trysts.

Harmonize, hike and heal

A trio of Luitpoldpark’s best features fosters harmony between body and soul. Vigorous treading through a pool in the Mediterranean Kneipp area purports to strengthen one’s cardiovascular system. The barefoot labyrinth, a winding path through grass, sand, bark and other textures, stimulates the soles of one’s feet. In the sound garden, harmonious clanging music plays.

For more natural beauty, stroll alongside the Saale or conquer “der Hochrhöner,” a six-mile trail that passes by stately villas, over babbling brooks, uphill to a scenic viewpoint and back to town. Following in the footsteps of illustrious visitors of times past, you’ll be pleased to return to Bad Kissingen.  

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