Bad Soden am Taunus lies at the foot of the Taunus mountain range, in close proximity to the Frankfurt am Main metropole and the international Rhein-Main Airport. Shielded against northern and eastern winds, bedded in a green valley opening to the Southeast, the geographic and climatic situations provoke the fact that spring comes earlier to Bad Soden than to neighbouring regions. More than 22,000 people live in this town, which is part of the Main-Taunus district. The city consists of three urban districts. Altenhain, with its 1,600 inhabitants and still numerous agricultural entities, is the smallest, rather placid district. Neuenhain, formerly a fruit producing community, today has the flair of a true little town, with 7,000 inhabitants dwelling in an area of diverse mixed shopping and housing sites. Downtown Bad Soden offers a train station (S-Bahn), a mix of modern shops and shopping malls, as well as diverse public cultural institutions, such as the city museum (Stadtmuseum) and city gallery (Stadtgalerie im Badehaus). In addition, four spacious parks invite visitors to rest and relax.
Numerous festivities and events draw visitors to the city. One of the cultural highlights is the popular summer night festival (“Sommernachtsfest”) in August, turning downtown Bad Soden into one big party mile. The traditional concert series “Jazz am Quellenpark” caters to the musical preferences of jazz fans, while later in September the “Mendelssohn Tage der Musik” does the same for classical music lovers. Finally, every December the stands of the Christmas Market invite you for a stroll through the winterly “Alter Kurpark”.
The Romans are said to already have known about and having made good use of the local mineral springs! The former ‘Imperial Village’ Soden, first mentioned in a historic document in the year 1191, used the mineral sources over centuries for salt extraction. The proper name “Soden” refers to this practice (“sieden”) already in early medieval times. In 1434 Emperor Sigismund officially granted the privilege for saline extraction. In the following centuries graduation works were used to concentrate the brine in order to obtain food grade salt. From the beginning of the 17th century up until 1812, a saline (including old and new graduation works) was in operation in the area of today’s “Alter Kurpark” and the adjoining area south of it.
For the development of the spa and health resort the minerals sources were of decisive importance. In the year 1701, when a mineral well that had fallen into oblivion during the Thirts Years’ War was rediscovered, it is believed to have given birth to the modern ‘spa era’. When only a year later the Frankfurt physician Johann Bernhard Gladbach mentioned the healing qualities of the Soden sources, the following decades saw the development of a modest spa activity. Therefore, the first spa building of 1722 was a private initiative. Frankfurt families, like those of the poet Isaak von Gerning, Goethe’s muse Marianne von Willemer and her husband, and Heinrich Hoffmann, author of the famed “Struwwelpeter”, were the first who took advantage of the Soden mineral water and spa facilities.
In order to attract additional guest, an adequate infrastructure had to be made available. The construction of the Königsteiner Straße (road) in 1818, as well as the renovation of the former graduation works area, in order to become the first “Kurpark”, were milestones in the development of the spa business. There was a railroad already operating between Höchst and Soden since 1847, as well. In the years to follow there were many well-known people who would go to spa in Soden; like the publicist and columnist Ludwig Börne, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, poet of the “Deutschlandlied” (Germany’s national anthem), and the great composers Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Peter Tchaikovsky, or the Russian writers Ivan Turgenev and Leo Tolstoi, who even described the Soden spa in his novel “Anna Karenina”.
From 1922 onward Soden finally was allowed to officially name itself “Bad“ (spa) – a title for which it had campaigned for quite some time. In 1947 Bad Soden obtained municipal rights. Even though two World wars temporarily impaired the spa business, federal health reform and spending cuts in the health sector at the beginning of the 21st century finally brought the spa to its knees. Even without the ‘official’ spa business, the mineral sources can be used. The well-kept Parks are popular places for those seeking recreation and health.
The Urban District of Neuenhain
Neuenhain matches the flair of an organically grown, beautiful rural community, featuring a mix of very well-preserved half-timbered houses, of modern housing and diverse shopping. Particularly noticeable are the “Schäferhaus” which is more than 300 years old and the “Herrnbau“, built between 1589 and 1591, that today both serves as the home of the pastor’s family and as a parish hall. Only a few hundred metres further on, a hand forged baroque gate adorns the entrance to the protestant church, which was built between 1762 and 1771. Until 1911 the church served as “simultaneous“ (ecumenical church) for Lutherans, Reformists and Catholics.
The Urban District of Altenhain
Even today the view of Altenhain is dominated by half-timbered houses and many farms. The old Altenhain school and town hall, dating back to around 1790, is an architectural gem. It was only recently renovated. Now it serves as “Haus der Vereine” (House of the Associations). Substituting the 18th century half-timbered church, the church ”Nativity of Mary“ contains a remarkable altar and an elaborately sculpted pulpit from the Frankfurt “Karmeliterkirche” (Carmelite church).