May 5, 2013 – Maulbronn and Baden-Baden – Baden-Wuertemburg, Germany

Following our stop in Ulm we made a stop in Maulbronn to see the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe.  It is separated from the town by fortifications and was founded in 1147 under the auspices of the first Cistercian pope, Eugenius III.  The main church, built in a style transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, was consecrated in 1178.   A number of other buildings — infirmary, refectory, cellar, auditorium, porch, south cloister, hall, forge, inn, cooperage, mill, and chapel — followed in the course of the 13th century. The west, east and north cloisters date back to the 14th century, as do most fortifications and the fountain house.

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When we ended our day in Baden-Baden we thought that it looked more French than German, and upon reading a travel book that we purchased while walking around we found out why …

Baden-Baden is a spa town located in the foothills of the Black Forest and in close proximity to France and Switzerland.   Its springs were known to the Romans under Emperor Hadrian, and the bath-conscious Carcalla, who once came here to ease his arthritic aches.

The town was named “Baden” (without the repetition) in the Middle Ages and fell into ruin but reappeared in 1112.  During the Thirty Years’ War and the Nine Years’s War, Baden-Baden suffered severely from the various combatants, especially from the French, who pillaged it in 1643 and left it in ashes in 1689.

In the late 18th century Baden-Baden was rediscovered as a spa town and rose to become a meeting place for celebrities, who were attracted by the hot springs as well as by its famous Casino, luxury hotels, horse races, and the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee.  Clients included Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III, and Brahms.   Baden-Baden was then nicknamed the European summer capital.  In 1931, the town of Baden-Baden was officially given its double name.  In both World Wars, the town escaped destruction.   After WWII it became the headquarters of the French forces in Germany.

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