Friedrichsbad. Fred’s bath.

by Sirje


There’s this amazing place in Baden-Baden called Friedrichsbad. Called an “historic bathing temple,” it’s a beautiful building from 1877, built over a couple of ancient Roman springs. Here’s the entrance:

And the lobby. Least impressive room in the house. Gentlemen to the right, ladies to the left. (It’s a naked place.)

What you do is go through this series of 17 rooms, all alternating temperatures and styles of bathing; some Irish steam baths and saunas, some Roman hot springs, warm bubbly floating pools, mineral inhaling zones, pore rerouting confinement spaces, and of course the obligatory freezing cold ice water dunking tanks. I’m not kidding. Freezing icy cold.

But the water is amazing. By the time you’re done, your skin is glowing and your innards are jumping up and down with glee.

Most days, men and women bathe separately, which is easy to accomplish because the entire thing is doubled inside, with just a few slight differences between the mens’ and women’s side.

There are drinking fountains all over the place where you can sip mineral water from the various underground sources. It’s actually quite tasty, with an interesting not-quite-thick sort of texture which always reminds me just a little tiny bit of quicksilver.

You can also pay a couple euros more and get a scrub brush bath, typically given by a bemused middle-aged Russian woman with very strong arms. You lie down on a giant marble pastry-rolling tablet, then they soap you up, scrub you raw, and give you the hardest massage you’ve ever had in your life. Then you flip over and get the same thing on the back. It’s all very efficient. When they’re done, they smack you on your butt cheeks *ONE, TWO* and whisk you off to the next room.

My husband reports that they don’t do the butt cheek smacking thing on the men’s side. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it all, generally.

This next photo is the last view decorum will permit, looking up the skylights from within my changing cabin. I don’t know why they bother making you change in individual cabins when you have to spend the next 2 or 3 hours immediately afterwards… with… considerably less privacy.

This sign below reads “From here on out, naked as the day you were born.” (Ok, it doesn’t actually say that. I’m just inappropriately preoccupied with the nakedness aspect.)

Beyond this little sign is absolutely gorgeous tile work in each room, elaborate murals, vaulted ceilings, sculptures and light, peaceful surroundings. It’s totally easy to forget that your skin is literally broiling off your bones in such a gorgeous atmosphere.

My favorite part is the sleeping room; after you’ve been steamed, bathed, scrubbed, mineralized, massaged and moisturized, they wrap you up in a giant warm sheet like a burrito and lead you over to a circular room of beds, which is quiet as a tomb with only a song bird or two chirping away intermittently, somewhere in the distance. You get tucked in for your nap like a baby, and snooze to your heart’s content, warm, clean and happy.

Waiting for me, as usual. I get carried away with the snoozing every time.

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