Modern Remedies from Ancient Treasures
“Let us praise and thank the Almighty for gifting us Wildungen’s marvellous natural springs.” These are the words of the famous Berlin Professor C.W. Hufeland, a grateful spa guest. They are emblazoned in grand, gold lettering in the spa chapel above the sparkling water of the Georg-Viktor spring in the Bad Wildungen pump room.
More than twenty ancient medicative springs emerge throughout the Wildungen area. Some of them were discovered, tapped and used over 600 years ago and have been the subject of scientific research ever since. They are the reason behind the rise of what was once Lower Wildungen and the inspirational resort of Reinhardshausen to one of the most important and modern spa centres in Germany. Most of the springs are located in the Wilde, Bornebach and Sonder valleys. Others are much further afield, such as those in Edertal-Kleinern or Fritzlar-Geismar.
But where do these springs get their ‘healing powers’ from? The reason why there are so many natural springs with varying compositions in what is a relatively small area, is the region’s unique geological structure. Bad Wildungen is located right at the edge of the Kellerwald, the eastern projection of the Rheinish Uplands. Acute rock folding is apparent beneath this undulating, heavily forested landscape, whereas the Hessian Depression to the east is an wide, open landscape.
Upthrow, dislocation and folding have forced very deep layers of rock to the surface. Volcanic carbon dioxide enters the groundwater and aerates it, artesically forcing it to the surface due to the increase in pressure. On its way to the surface, the water is enriched by the minerals in the surrounding hills due to the free carbon dioxide molecules it contains. The water we see on the surface can come from depths down to 300 metres and is sometimes referred to as ‘cold mineral water.’ Because all of the springs flow through different types of rock, their mineral compositions vary.
Every Wildunger knows the story of Herman Smenkys, who, in 1378, used a wooden penstock to channel Sauernborn water from what is now the Spa Park to the market square. This was an enormous technological achievement and an absolute blessing for a mediaeval town in such an elevated location. The health-promoting effects of this water made it the subject of scientific interest in the mid 16th century and a modest spa industry began to develop. By the end of the 19th century, the spa resort was flourishing. The famous Wildungen springs were the place to be seen for royals, aristocrats and wealthy citizens. International renown brought with it prosperity, a building boom and a completely new attitude towards life in the town. The history of this famous spa resort, which was once a sleepy farming town, is vividly documented in the spa museum in the Bad Wildungen pump rooms. Water is celebrated both in the spa chapel next door and in the Reinhardshausen pump room. You should definitely give it a try and experience one of the most precious natural remedies of our time.
The most famous natural spring waters from Wildungen and Reinhardshausen:
Nevertheless, the Königsquelle (rediscovered in 1869) in the former garden show area, the Schlossquelle, the Reitzenhagener Bilsteinquelle, the Tempelquelle (for swimming in the hot springs), the Stahl and Talquelle, or the Waldquelle are all springs that produce equally delicious and refreshing waters. The same can also be said of springs such as Bathildisquelle and Dorfbrunnen in Kleinern, or the Donarquelle near Geismar.
Even today, Wildungers are proud of their unique treasure!