Sunday, 23 August 2015

sprüdelhof, badehaus

Over the weekend, H and I took a day trip to the northern suburbs of Frankfurt am Main and visited the ensemble of bath houses, an incredible Jungendstil (Art Nouveau) tribute to hydrotherapy, known as the Sprudelhof, for curative techniques developed there—an effervescent, carbonated bath that was used to treat nervous diseases. The compound reminded me of the artists’ enclave Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt with its dominating Hochzeitsturm (Wedding Tower) and collection of other stunningly beautiful buildings.
As many other spa towns at the turn of the century, Bad Nauheim attracted many celebrities, including those of the scientific community. I had seen that iconic class-photograph of past, present and future laureates previously but had not realised that it was taken during a conference held on these grounds. Another influential luminary that often visited, as a child, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was brought there numerous times to take the waters. Not only did these memories later inspire FDR to build his own health spa, he also ordered that Bad Nauheim be spared Allied bombing during the war, despite its proximity to Frankfurt and to one of Hitler’s command centres—called Adlerhorst, the eagle’s eyrie (nest) and often conflated with theKehlsteinhaust near the Austrian border.
The complex is still a temple of wellness but seems to have lost either its exclusive luxury or democratic access—I’m not sure which but very happy the elegant, moderne setting was preserved and there to enjoy. Elvis Presley was also stationed there in the years just after the war—and though not as famous as the crosswalk on Abbey Road, used one of the gates of the town as cover art for his album, Hunk o’ Love.