Once a Roman respite, the waters of scenic Wiesbaden are waiting to embrace you too in their bubbly warmth. Tucked up against the storied Rhine, this busy town has emerged from wars and social upheaval to become both a major administrative center as the capital of the state of Hesse and an important military site as host to nearly 20,000 Americans at Wiesbaden Air Base. Home to one of the most prosperous populations in Europe, it offers a diverse variety of artistic and cultural events, and a business relationship with Lady Luck at its popular Kurhaus casino. Situated in the lush Rhine Valley, it lies in the shadow of the Taunus Mountains where, from the restored ovens of a Roman fort, you can savor the smell of bread and hear a popular local invocation, “von der Höhe” (“from the heights”).
Location: At the river confluence of Rhine and Main
Just after the point where the Main River empties into the Rhine is an ancient town, once regarded by the Romans as a popular spa, called Wiesbaden or “meadow baths.” There, the Rhine makes a hard right turn and moves west for a while before resuming its journey northward through Germany. Flanked by the Taunus Mountains to the north, much of the city lies in the Rhine Valley. Connection to the Autobahn makes for easy movement by car, and a quick journey to neighboring cities is simple via the complex rail system.
Business: Frankfurt's little sister surely can keep up
Per capita income in Wiesbaden is one of the highest in Europe, and the headquarters of corporate heavy weights like Abbot, Ferrari, and Norwegian Cruise Lines are here. More than 80 companies occupy the city’s Industriepark Kalle-Albert, an industrial park started by the chemical company Hoechst AG in 1997. The town’s 14 remaining hot springs still bring visitors, as it has since antiquity, to its soothing waters. But the proverbial elephant in the room in Wiesbaden is foreign. The massive American air base and its community injects millions into the local economy.
Culture: From Vikings to Royalty of Literature
Since 121 A.D., when Romans founded a settlement in the place they called Aquae Mattiacorum, visitors have been coming to Wiesbaden for its soothing waters. The last vestige of this period is the city’s “Heathen Wall” (Heidenmauer). Today, the city is the capital of the state of Hesse and one can trace its historical evolution in its monuments, like the memorial to the House of Nassau, whose monarchs fought Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The center of Wiesbaden’s cultural life is the Kurhaus, an elegant, multi-purpose facility serving as a casino, a convention center, and a venue for music and dance performances.
Activities: Games of Luck, Spa Baths, and Nature Adventures
Art and music lovers (and gamblers) can have their day at the Kurhaus, a center of Wiesbaden’s nightlife since 1907. Great performances await you at the State Theatre and Opera House. Hop on the funicular and make your way up the hill Neroberg. There, you can stroll among the wooded grounds and enjoy a spectacular view of the city. Head over to Wilhelmstrasse, where you can explore upscale shops and enjoy a savory meal at one of its fine restaurants.