Crucible of culture
So much to see, so little time. That can be true of any destination, but it is especially true in Wiesbaden, the capital of the Western German state of Hesse. As you explore the town, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve been let loose on an ornamental placemat, strewn as the place is with castles, monasteries and churches. Here where the cultural life is diverse and entertainment pulsating, German composer Richard Wagner and Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, tried their luck in the casino.
There’s no better way to take in a crucible of art, architecture and culture than on foot. The Kurhaus, a spa-house built in Neo-classical style, is a good place to start. Inside, within the former wine hall is the casino, at whose tables Dostoyevsky accumulated sports gambling debts, and inspiration for his novel The Gambler. Outside the English style Garden, with its banner of green peppered with magnolias, rhododendrons, swamp cypress, pillar relics of the old Kurhaus, and even a bust of Dostoyevsky – beckon.
Among other highlights on a walk around the city, is a stop at the Market Church, that looms over all it surveys. In case you are really fortunate, you’ll hear organ music play amid its lofty portals.
Nearby the Stadtmuseum Am Markt, is where one may be walked through the history of Wiesbaden from pre-history to the present.
To explore the city’s long-acquired reputation for treatment and cure, visit the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme a historic thermal spa built in 1913, and fed with hot thermal water at 66 degrees centigrade. Another obvious halt to satisfy your interest, if not your thirst, is the Kochbrunnen fountain, or hot spring centre. Sample in a wee shot-glass sized cup handed out by every guide, the waters of the city’s famous sodium-chloride curative spring. A total of 26 hot springs, have long attracted people, with rheumatic and orthopaedic conditions in particular.
The State museum of Art and Nature is a multi-faceted place. Here you’ll see masterpieces of painting from the 19th and 20th centuries, including stunners by Alexej Von Jawlensky.
But what has aficionados running superlatives ragged at the moment, is that from the 29th of June 2019 onwards, the art nouveau collection of Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess will be on permanent display. On show, through hundreds of whimsical objects ceramics, lamps, silver, glass extravaganzas – are classic examples of Art Nouveau.
This movement, an international phenomenon of the late 19th century emerged in response to European industrialisation.
If you want a break from the monumental buildings and their cultural offerings, pop in at Café Maldaner, a Viennese-styled coffee house. Here amid handmade cakes and chocolates, all thoughts of restraint flee.
Next drift into the Kunder Chocolateria that’s been experimenting with the chocolate it creates, since 1898.
Break up all that eating with a visit to the Caligari FilmBuhne, a cinema that showcases the city’s love affair with classic movies.
A conscientious spell-caster for those who travel, has always been a visit to Neroberg on the Nerobergbahn funicular railway. A ride on this train is monumental, technically speaking. Atop the hill, the golden onion cupolas of the exquisitely adorned Russian Orthodox Church, peek out at you.
While you’re at it, take a look at the outdoor swimming pool Opelbad, built in 1933 in Bauhaus style. If you have a car at your disposal, head to the Eberbach monastery, a sprawling Romanesque abbey that’s now making wine and hosting events still bringing community and ideas together
There’s a plethora of day-trip possibilities for the traveller prepared to seek them out. In 45minutes of drive-time, you can be at the Rudesheim vineyards. The best views are frequently had from above, so take the cable car up to the Niederwald monument area. From here you’ll have fantastic views of Rudesheim and also the Rhine.
Eager for more? it’s a half-anhour run from here to the historical town of Eltville- that’s known for its wine, and roses.
It won’t just be the wine you’re sipping in abundance here, that will have you admiring a well-restored old quarter, dotted with ancient fortifications and castles.