Imperial spas on the river

Wilhelm I, the first German Kaiser, was a conservative ruler. There are over 1,000 statues dedicated to the emperor, depicting him in parade uniform. This is not the case in Bad Ems. He looks relaxed in a casual suit as he surveys the spa park from on top of the monument plinth. The monument in the spa town on the Lahn, which is famous for its healing springs, is also known as the family album in stone. The relief shows the Kaiser drinking the local Emser Kränchen water and indicates that all three Kaisers from what would later become known as the ‘year of the three Kaisers’ visited the spa in Bad Ems in 1887.

The idyllic location of the spa town of Bad Ems in the romantic Lahn valley between the Westerwald and Taunus and the sparkling mineral springs made it a popular destination for tsars, kings and noblemen, and even writers and artists. Then and now, the long river promenade is a favourite spot for a stroll. A stone in the flowerbed marks the spot where Kaiser Wilhelm I received the famous telegram from Otto von Bismarck, the sharply worded content of which would eventually lead to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. The ‘Ems Dispatch’ put the spa town in history books the world over.

Russian author Fyodor M. Dostoevsky wrote parts of his world-famous book ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ in Bad Ems. He wrote about the town in a letter to his wife Anna in 1874:

“The little town of Ems lies in a deep gorge between wooded hills. It leans back against the most picturesque cliffs in the world. There are promenades and gardens, and everything is charming.”

"Emser Kränchen" in Bad Ems, Lahn valley

Sparkling mineral spring "Emser Kränchen" in Bad Ems, Lahn valley

Jacques Offenbach even spent 12 years leading the orchestra in Bad Ems, which inspired him to write his burlesque opera ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’. Alongside Carl Maria von Weber, Victor Hugo and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner also enjoyed life on the Lahn and composed his opera ‘Parsifal’ at Balmoral Castle in the town.

If you have plenty of time, Bad Ems is the perfect space to find calm and inner balance, clear your head and adopt a healthier long-term lifestyle using targeted wellness applications. This is not only thanks to the thermal springs in Bad Ems, but also the Ayurveda health centre with massages, oil treatments, physical and breathing exercises, yoga and healthy nutrition systems.

The Bad Ems spa with its thermal area, sauna park and fitness panorama is the perfect way to combine relaxation and active recovery. With a herbal steam bath, Bad Ems saline inhalation, in the hammam, with a hot stone massage or in the rain field at this state-of-the-art spa, you can pick the feel-good moments you want and enjoy them in the wonderful atmosphere. The spa sits directly on the banks of the Lahn and is fed by Bad Ems spa water. The river sauna is also really special. It floats on the Lahn and can be reached via a jetty from the spa.

The river sauna of the Bad Ems spa, Lahn valley

The "swimming" river sauna of the Bad Ems spa, Lahn valley

There are also lots of relaxing walks through Bad Ems, with plenty to see. There are alternating splendid Baroque buildings and magnificent spa architecture. The most interesting buildings in the historic spa district are the Roman-looking marble hall and the Rococo spa theatre, which is the oldest casino in Germany. There is also the Russian Orthodox church with its onion-domed tower on the other side of the river.

One of the steepest funicular railways in Germany links the town centre to the spa district on Bismarckhöhe hill. At the top, you can enjoy the panoramic views down into the Lahn valley from inside or outside the restaurant. The Lahn Trail top-flight hiking path leads from the heights of the Nassau Nature Park and through here on its 290 route along the river from the mouth to the source.

The Bad Ems spa in Bad Ems, Lahn valley

View of the Bad Ems spa in Bad Ems, Lahn valley

The Marble hall of Bad Ems, Lahn valley

The impressive Marble hall of Bad Ems, Lahn valley

More leisure tips for culture lovers in the Lahn valley:

More information about holidays in the Lahn valley

Find out everything you need to know on events, attractions and other destinations in the Lahn valley at the Lahntal Tourismus Verband e.V.

Spa Theatre

Bad Ems Large stage in the New Rococo style

Marble Hall Bad Ems

Bad Ems The centrepiece of the Kursaal building is the marble hall built in 1836-39, often referred to as "Little Rome".

Russian Orthodox Church

Bad Ems Impressive church with golden domes and valuable iconostasis

Casino Bad Ems

Bad Ems Germany's oldest casino