Welcome to Wiesbaden!
Hessian state capital, convention and health centre sur rounded by countryside, place of residence with a high quality of living, city of the hot springs, mansions and wine – these synonyms stand for the multifaceted city of Wiesbaden with its over 2000-year history. Wiesbaden is situated in the heart of Germany in the middle of the Rhine-Main Region some 30 minutes from Frankfurt Airport. The excellent infrastructure and attractive venues such as the Kurhaus, which is also one the city’s landmarks, make the Hessian capital both a popular location for trade fairs, conventions and conferences and a favoured address for branches of renowned companies.
With more than 270,000 inhabitants, Wiesbaden is one of the major German cities that stand for a sporty, cultural and socially vibrant life. The events calendar of the state capital is colourful and bursting with things to visit: sports events that draw huge crowds such as the Ironman 70.3 are just as popular as the Theatrium, the ”classic“ among Germany’s street festivals, the ten-day Rheingau Wine Festival, the Wiesbaden City Festival that guides its visitors to the most beautiful squares and quarters in the city or the Twinkling Star Christmas Market during Advent. Internationally renowned ensembles can be seen in the Hessian State Theatre every year for the International May Theatre Festival, and the Rhein gau Music Festival draws famous orchestras and conductors to the Rheingau and the state capital. A visit to the Museum Wiesbaden will enthral art lovers. With its more than 90 works by the Russian painter Alexej Jawlensky among others, the two programme house possesses the most important Jawlensky collection in the world.
Wiesbaden is also a modern health resort with a longstanding tradition. Even the Romans appreciated the healing and therapeutic effect of the 26 hot springs. Wiesbaden has transformed its good reputation as a “classic spa” into a recognised centre for the treatment of rheumatic and orthopaedic disorders. You can experience the therapeutic diversity of the hot springs in Wiesbaden’s thermal baths. Beyond that, numerous parks and green belts invite visitors and locals alike to linger and relax. A wonderful way of discovering Wiesbaden and the Rheingau on foot is on the varied hiking, wine and nature trails.
Due to its proximity to one of the most beautiful and traditional wine-growing regions in Germany, Wiesbaden is often called the ”Gateway to the Rheingau“. Its numerous palaces, castles and monasteries make the Rheingau an attractive destination for day trips. During the grape picking season in particular, the unique charm of this colourful landscape unfolds when the vintners’ taverns open their doors and the wine festivals are celebrated in the region.
Wiesbaden is a multifaceted city steeped in history: once a bathing resort of the Romans, modern Wiesbaden has been predominantly marked by two eras. The 19th century saw the rapid rise to the sophisticated “global cultural city“. Up to the First World War, Wiesbaden is, with its hot springs, temperate climate and casino, a top-notch destination for the nobility and wealthy bourgeois of Europe. From 1945 on, after decades in crisis, the city experienced an unforeseen resurrection. The former spa town in the centre of Germany has gradually been able to grow and refine its profile.
Today, healthcare still plays an important role in Wiesbaden, but the city has also become a key location for industry and services – and as the Hessian state capital, a political centre of the Federal Republic at the same time.
Indulgence Spa of the Romans
Wiesbaden‘s history reaches back more than 2,000 years. The Romans were the first ones who provided traces for permanent settlement which can still be found today. Most likely already in the years 6 to 15 A.D., the Romans erected a border fort as a military base. Soon after that, the central location and the rich thermal springs gave rise to a civilian settlement and the development of a spa culture. The hot water gave the town its name: “Aquae Mattiacorum” – the springs of the Mattiaci. Around today’s Kranzplatz, the thermal spas provided luxuriousness, whereas the business centre was in the area of today’s Mauritiusplatz. The first written information about Wiesbaden after the Romans was provided by Einhard, the biographer of Charles the Great. He travelled through “Wisibada” in 828 and 829 and described it as a castrum, which means a fortified settlement. In the 13th century, Wiesbaden was even the imperial city for a short time, but was repeatedly destroyed in wars and fires in the later centuries.
Rise to the “World Destination for Treatment and Cure”
It was not until the 18th century that the city experienced a new upswing. When Wiesbaden became the capital of the new duchy of Nassau in 1806, the town was systematically extended, which formed the foundation for its rise to a world destination for treatment and cure. Soon, the spa welcomed European nobility, but also many celebrities such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Russian poet Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Otto von Bismarck as its guests. The handover of the town to Prussia fostered its growth even more. Kaiser Wilhelm I as well as his grandson Wilhelm II stayed in the town frequently. Both influenced its further development. Carl von Ibell, who was its Lord Mayor for almost 30 years, contributed significantly to lay the foundations for a large city: government and administration buildings, the Kurhaus and the State Theatre were built, the service industry boomed and the traffic infrastructure was consistently extended. The number of inhabitants doubled between 1880 and 1905. Mansions and houses in the construction style of historism, classicism and art nouveau were characteristic for the townscape.
World War I and the inflation put a sudden end to Wiesbaden’s success and to the wealth of its citizens. A new orientation proved difficult as the town was occupied by French and English troops until 1930, and the following global economic crisis hit the old spa town particularly hard.
Only after World War II, Wiesbaden made a new beginning. In October 1945, the town which had been destroyed to a relatively little extent became the location of the first government of the new Federal State Hessen. The Hessian State Parliament, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Office of Statistics, as well as insurance companies, publishing houses and institutions of the film industry settled down. The industrial base was strengthened by the incorporation of the suburbs Amöneburg, Kastel and Kostheim. At the same time, the old glamour was revived step by step. In 1951, the Kurhaus, which had been damaged in the war, was reopened and in the same year the May Festival came back. Very significant was the decision in the 1970ies not to demolish the huge amount of old buildings, as it happened in other cities, but to refurbish it. With that, the particular charm of the town was preserved in a special way, by combining tradition with modernity.
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