The history of the Chänzeli Tour
Switzerland’s richest thermal mineral water has been bubbling up from the depths of Baden for 2,000 years. Roman legionnaires discovered the spring in 14 AD. During the rule of the Roman Empire, bathing played a major role in society. However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the first bathing treatments were developed. From then on, bathing gained increasing significance as a promoter of health and well-being. Business was booming in the baths district. Artists, nobility and clergy from all over Europe flocked to Baden to experience the healing properties of the town’s thermal water.
This health cure pilgrimage was referred to as the “Baden journey”. A bathing cure usually lasted six to eight weeks. Every day, or every second day, between five and twenty bathing rituals were performed over a period of up to eight hours. Over time, other forms of treatment came to Baden. Visitors would undertake cupping therapy, or drink the waters to purge and purify their bodies. During the Belle Époque (at the turn of the 19th century), extensive walking routes, known as “terrain cures”, were part of the established therapy in Baden’s bathing culture. The goal of this “therapeutic hiking” was to strengthen the heart, circulatory system and muscles. The "Chänzelis", or lookout points, on the hills of the Klus gorge were popular day trip destinations back then, and rewarded the exertions of guests seeking a cure with diverse flora and fauna, fresh air and gorgeous views.
Up and down the Klus gorge
Baden is located at the point where the Swiss Plateau meets the Jura mountains. During the ice age, the River Limmat created an almost 200-metre-wide gorge filled with gravel and sand, which divided the rocky ridges of Lägern mountain. The Wettingen Schartenfels towers over one side of the gorge. On the other side, the ruins of Stein Castle perch atop Schlossberg mountain. The River Limmat flows in between and turns sharply in the bathing region, creating the Limmatknie (Limmat knee). At this point, in the baths district there are 18 springs that send Switzerland’s most mineral-rich thermal water up to the surface. Martinsberg mountain and Ennetbaden’s Goldwand (vineyards known as the "gold wall") surge upwards on opposite sides of the river. Anyone who has stood on one of the four lookout points soon realises that the spectacular panorama of the city and region owes its existence to the River Limmat. Over millennia, the river has created the stark differences in altitude, which can be explored thanks to the 1,300 vertical steps of the Chänzeli Tour.
Where city and nature meet
The Chänzeli Tour also provides an insight into the city’s diversity. The baths district is a lively area of great historic and cultural value that is changing rapidly from day to day. In the Old Town, visitors are transported back to the Middle Ages. A network of quaint alleyways branch out from the Stadtturm (City Tower) and are filled with many cafés and small boutiques. There is also Baden Nord, a thriving city quarter where culture, residential areas and modern office buildings lie side-by-side with restored relics from the past industrial age. In light of this, it’s hard to believe that 56% of the city area is still covered by forests. Lush greenery is never more than a few minutes’ walk away, such as the lookout point at Martinsberg. Yews, wild German garlic, orchids, green woodpeckers and Alpine swifts are just some of the flora and fauna you may encounter on the Chänzeli Tour. The hike highlights Baden’s impressive blend of urban and natural spaces.
The lookout points
Schartenfels lookout point
The lookout point on the Schartenfels (470 m.a.s.l.) provides an impressive view of the Limmat Valley and the city of Baden.
Geissberg lookout point
At the Geissberg lookout point (in German "Geissber-Chänzeli"), also known as Hertenstein lookout point, (514 m.a.s.l.) you can enjoy stunning views of Baden, Ennetbaden and – when the weather is good – see all the way to the Alps.
Martinsberg lookout point
In the middle of the forest on the outermost edge of Martinsberg mountain, this lookout point (497 m.a.s.l.) delivers a majestic view of Baden Nord, Ennetbaden and Lägern mountain.
The medieval fortress on Schlossberg mountain (442 m.a.s.l.) was supposedly built by the counts of Lenzburg in the 11th century. From there, you can soak up the best panoramic view of Baden’s Old Town and the surrounding vineyards.
The detailed route description can be found here.
Guided Chänzeli Tour
If you would like to hear exciting stories about the city and its rich bathing tradition during your hike, simply ask Info Baden about the guided group tours.
"Schweizer Familie" fireplace in Baden
The first "Schweizer Familie" fireplace of Baden is in the Österliwald right next to the Martinsberg-Lookout. The Rotary-Club Baden-Rohrdorferberg made and maintains this fireplace.