History of the baths

Discovered by the Romans, a distinctive spa culture has emerged around the Baden thermal springs over the centuries. The springs attracted guests from Switzerland and abroad, including many well-known figures.

The city of Baden has a 2,000-year history as a spa town. The thermal springs have been bubbling out of the depths since they were discovered by Roman legionnaires in 14 AD. During the age of Roman antiquity, Baden played an important social role. Key parts of public and private life took place in the thermal baths. The approx. 10,000 soldiers from the nearby military camp in Vindonissa came to soak in the waters in the baths district and had an impressive baths centre built. It was destroyed after around 400 years of Roman settlement by the Alemanni and lay in ruins for several centuries.

The baths only became important again during the feudal period of the Middle Ages. From this point on, spa treatments were ascribed a special status. The baths district saw a lot of activity, especially in the 16th century. Artists, nobility and clergy from throughout Europe flocked to the baths district and sought to outdo one another with jewellery, clothing and gifts. The journey to Baden for a spa treatment was called the “Baden journey”. A spa treatment generally lasted 6–8 weeks. During this time, 5–20 spa applications, each lasting up to eight hours, were conducted every day or every other day. To enhance the spa treatment, patients also underwent ‘cupping’, took long walks or detoxed by drinking the mineral water. In addition to such cleansing rituals, the healing baths were also an oasis of revelry. Nude bathing was practised in part and it was common to drink and eat in the baths. In its heyday, the baths district had two public and around 30 private baths.

In 1847, the first railway line in Switzerland (the Spanischbrödli line) connected Zurich with Baden, bringing many new guests to the baths. As a result, hotels and restaurants in Baden experienced a boom. With the construction of the Kursaal (Spa Hall), spa guests could attend the theatre, concerts, dances and plays from 1875.

The Swiss confederates liked to hold their “Tagsatzungen” (legislative assemblies) in Baden because of the baths. The painstakingly restored “Tagsatzungssaal” (legislative assembly chamber) is mainly used today for weddings and is open for viewing.

You can learn exciting and interesting facts during a guided tour through the baths district.