Hot springs tour

On the trail of Breisig's hot springs

Bad Breisig am Rhein was originally a Celto-Roman settlement. The area has been inhabited for 2,500 years. Drilling work on the first of six natural hot springs was completed in 1914 and this was the starting point for the development of Bad Breisig a spa and health care centre. Breisig was officially recognised as a 'Bad' (Spa) on 6 May 1958.

The tour starts at the Roman Thermal Spa building in Albert-Mertés-Str. 11

Roman Thermal Spa/Geyrsprudel spring  
It was in 1936 that Johann Martin Schuh, one of the pioneers in Bad Breisig's history as a spa town, completed the 'Heilbäderhaus Geyrsprudel' (Geyrsprudel spa building) in Albert-Mertés-Strasse. 11). However, credit for the first successful attempt to bring the warm spring water to the surface goes to spring expert Peter Lang and Reichsfreiherr Maximilian von Geyr zu Schweppenburg, who from 1912-1914 drilled down an amazing 605 metres to reach it. As an entrepreneur, Schuh's aim in constructing the spa building was to exploit the healing waters on a professional basis. His son Willy constructed Europe's first ever indoor thermal wave pool on this site. A modern spa centre, the Roman Thermal Spa, was opened in December 1991 with a large area dedicated to sauna facilities. Römer-Thermen
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At the drinking fountain in the indoor area, the healing water pours out crystal clear, while in the drinking pavilion in front of the building it emerges in its natural state at over 30°C.
Trinkpavillon
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Continuation of tour:
Skirt around the Roman Thermal Spa in the direction of the tennis hall (on the right); climb the slope between the tennis hall and the tennis courts. At the bottom of the grounds attached to the Roman Thermal Spa you will find the Geyrsprudel spring:

 
   
Bohrstelle Geyrsprudel (Geyrsprudel well)  
It was the Romans who first exploited the region's healing water in the Pönter valley and along the Brohlbach stream. Spring expert Peter Lang (known locally as 'Wasser-Pitter', i.e. Water Peter) had been unsuccessful in his attempts on the other side of the Rhine in Bad Hönningen due to bitter opposition from industry. Eventually he found a tolerant sponsor, Baron Max von Geyr, and in April 1914 he finally broke through to a source of hot spring water that poured out 70,000 litres an hour at 34°C. The two years of drilling that had preceded this moment represented a stunning technological achievement for the time. Despite several interruptions when the drilling head broke off and the borehole turned out to have shifted from its original vertical position, progress was unstoppable. At first, a modest half-timbered spa house was constructed next to the well. Most of the hot spring water went unused. It was not until the Schuh family came along that a more professional approach was adopted and the hot springs exploited for bathing purposes. Today, the Geyr well is used to supply water to the Roman Thermal Spa. Bohrstelle Geyrsprudel
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Continuation of tour:
Climb half-way up the hill along the Rheinhöhenweg (waymarked R). Bear left along the Rheinhöhenweg in the direction of the 'Eifeldorf' recreational education centre.
 
   
Mariensäule/Mariensprudel (Madonna Column /Madonna Spring)  
The Marienquelle, formerly Breisig's largest hot spring, was drilled here below the basalt statue in 1927 and produced 200,000 litres of water per hour. The spring disappeared during the Second World War following a series of earth tremors.
Frau Gertrud Schuh, wife of the spa industry pioneer Johann Martin Schuh, vowed that she would erect a statue to Mary if ever the spring was reopened. And this indeed happened in 1952. However, Gertrud had died in the meantime, so her son Willy fulfilled her vow and had the towering Madonna figure made in black Eifel basalt. She is holding a container of carbonated liquid.
The date 1 August 1928 saw the opening of Germany's first outdoor hot spring pool (close to the Rhine, now built over) using water from the Marienquelle.
Mariensprudel
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Continuation of tour:
Continue along the Rheinhöhenweg (waymarked R) as far as the Augustenhöhe, named for Augusta, the wife of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Rheinhöhenweg (R) zigzags down to Rheineck amid a network of paths behind the 'Eifeldorf' recreational education centre.

Mariensäule
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 Rheineck  
is a suburb of Bad Breisig. It was founded on the site of a Roman fort. The Vinxtbach stream winds its way through the spot. In Roman times, it formed the boundary between the provinces of Germania superior, which had its capital in Mainz, and Germania inferior with its capital in Cologne. Luftbild
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Continuation of tour:
We cross the Vinxtbach over the Wagram bridge (Pont de Wagram).

The bridge was built in July 1813 to commemorate Napoleon's victory over the Austrians. Rheineck was under French control until 1816.

Continuation of tour:
Follow the stream beneath the railway line and the Bundesstraße 9 main road to the point where it flows into the Rhine.

The delta around the mouth of the stream is almost entirely in its natural state. The 'Limes', which formed the boundary of the Roman Empire, begins opposite the mouth of the stream on the other side of the Rhine. Construction of the frontier fortifications, which reached as far as the Danube, commenced in 84 A.D. under the Emperor Domitian.

Continuation of tour:
Continue along the bank of the Rhine.

When the river is low, the rising steam and rusty colour of the rocks on the bank indicate where the hot spring water runs into the Rhine.

When you reach Malteserstrasse, you will find the Ludgerussprudel:this 27°C hot spring is 608 metres deep and discharges at a rate of 40,000 litres/hour. It was drilled in 1929 by Carl Gustav Rommehöller GmbH and relined in 1936. This spring is used to supply the baths and other facilities in the Municipal Spa Building. It was officially designated a public spring on 21 March 1960. The Ludgerussprudel has similar properties to those of the Geyrsprudel and Mariensprudel springs, although the concentration of dissolved solids is higher.

The Mariensprudel flows into the Rhine underneath Boedikerweg: it this point it has a temperature of 33°C and is 630 metres deep; it formerly discharged at a rate of 200,000 litres/hour but since 1952, this was reduced to 56,000 litres/hour. In 1960 the well shaft (below the Mariensäule) was expanded using rubber-lined steel pipes to a depth of 521 metres. From 1928 until its closure at the end of the 1970s, the spring supplied the Schuh´schen (named after Schuh) hot spring baths.

Einlass Thermalquelle
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Continuation of tour:
Footpath from the Rhine to the Tourist Information Office.
 
   
 Villa Bachem/Schuh  

The villa was built in 1874 in the middle of parkland by the mason Franz Bachem from Königswinter. It is now a listed building.

Johann Martin Schuh bought the villa in 1920.
He built Germany's first outdoor hot spring bathing pools in the park in 1927/28. There was also a covered pool that was supplied with mineral water in summer and hot spring water in winter.

Johann Martin Schuh undertook the first test drilling in the grounds of the villa in 1923. This led to his discovery of the Gertrudisquelle spring in 1925.

Getrudisquelle: 15°C, approx. 98 metres deep, 15,000-20,000 litres/hour, lined at the end of 1963. The carbonic acid was used in the Schuh´schen carbonic acid factory (now Bad Breisig's municipal construction yard). The spring was occasionally used to supply a small 'cold' swimming pool near Schuh's outdoor pools. It was officially recognised as a 'Heilquelle' (healing spring) on 24 June 1965.

Villa Bachem
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Opposite the villa grounds lies the historic railway station, which dates back to 1880. Behind the platforms there is now a car park. The site used to belong to the mineral spring company Bronni. Between 1957 and 1959, drilling was carried out to reach the Michaelisquelle spring at a depth of 25 metres. At the same time, the Rudolph Halpaus spring (also known as the Rudolphusquelle) was discovered at a depth of 33 metres in Malteserstraße. Both were used by the mineral water industry. They contain a higher concentration of magnesium than the other springs in the Breisig area. The Michaelisquelle was officially recognised as 'Magnesium sodium calcium hydrogen carbonate chloride water' on 27 June 1961. It produced 18,000 litres/hour compared to the Rudolphusquelle's 4,000 litres/hour with a water temperature of just 12°C.
Thermalbäder Schuh
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Continuation of tour:
Continue along Koblenzer Straße for a short distance until you reach Villa Luzia.
 
   
 Villa Luzia  
This splendid villa was commissioned by cloth merchant Hugo Knops and designed by the prominent art nouveau architect Franz Brantzky in 1908/09. Fortunately the villa survived both world wars intact. From 1949 to 1973 it was run as a 'kur' (health treatment) centre. Due in large part to its historical artistic value, Villa Luzia and the surrounding gardens were given listed monument status in 1981.  It would be hard to find another example of art nouveau architecture of the same quality in the whole of Rhineland Palatinate. Villa Luzia
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Continuation of tour:
At the bus stop bear right and follow the footpath down to the Rhine. Continue along the bank of the Rhine then turn left into Tempelgasse. Cross the car park and turn right into the Kurpark .
 
The Kurpark gardens once formed the grounds of the surrounding villas along the Rhine. Today, they still boast many old and exotic trees.  
   
 Kurpark (Spa park)  
The foundation stone for a rest home called 'Loge Erholung' was laid in 1876 by Breisig Freemasons. The building was used extensively and later sold to the Danish Consul General Oehme. As a result of the town's popularity with visitors, Breisig established its first office to promote tourism in 1877. After the discovery of several healing springs, preparations began to form a company to run the spa installations. The company, known as Kurbad GmbH, was founded on 20 April 1926. Its managing director was Ernst Schwickerath, who at the time was also mayor of Breisig. Villa Oehme was opened as a Kurhaus (spa treatment centre) on 26 May 1928. Ernst Schwickerath, who lived and worked in the altes Rathaus (former town hall, built in 1873, now the Puppenmuseum - Dolls' museum), is commemorated in the name of the lane that now takes us back down to the Rhine. Kurhaus
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Continuation of tour:
Continue along the Rhine as far as the historic Rhine promenade. Turn left up Biergasse, cross the B9 main road and continue along Bachstraße. Walk through the underpass, then after 50 metres turn left into Quellenstraße. This will take you back to the Roman Thermal Spa, the starting point for our walk in search of Breisig's hot springs.