1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wiesbaden

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WIESBADEN, a town and watering-place of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. Pop. (1905) 100,953. It is delightfully situated in a basin under the well-wooded south-western spurs of the Taunus range, 5 m. N. of Mainz, 3 m. from the right bank of the Rhine (at Biebrich), and 25 m. W. of Frankfort-on-Main by rail. The town is on the whole sumptuously built, with broad and regular streets. Villas and gardens engirdle it on the north and east sides and extend up the hills behind. Its prosperity is mainly due to its hot springs and mild climate, which have rendered it a favourite winter as well as summer resort. The general character of the place, with its numerous hotels, pensions, bathing establishments, villas and places of entertainment, is largely determined by the requirements of visitors, who in 1907 numbered 180,000. The principal buildings are the royal palace, built in 1837-1840 as a residence for the dukes of Nassau, and now a residence of the king of Prussia; the Court Theatre (erected 1892-1894); the new Kurhaus, a large and handsome establishment, with colonnades, adjoining a beautiful and shady park; the town-hall, in the German Renaissance style (1884-1888); the government offices and the museum, with a picture gallery, a collection of antiquities, and a library of 150,000 vols. Among the churches, which are all modern, are the Protestant Marktkirche, in the Gothic style with five towers, built 1853-1862; the Bergkirche; the Roman Catholic church of St Boniface; the Anglican church and the Russian church on the Neroberg. There are two synagogues. Wiesbaden contains numerous scientific and educational institutions, including a chemical laboratory, an agricultural college and two musical conservatoria.

The alkaline thermal springs contain 2/3% of common salt, and smaller quantities of other chlorides; and a great deal of their efficacy is due to their high temperature, which varies from 156° to 104° Fahr. The water is generally cooled to 93° F. for bathing. The principal spring is the Kochbrunnen (156° F.), the water of which is drunk by sufferers from chronic dyspepsia and obesity. There are twenty-eight other springs of nearly identical composition, many of which are used for bathing, and are efficacious in cases of rheumatism, gout, nervous and female disorders and skin diseases. The season lasts from April to October, but the springs are open the whole year through and are also largely attended in winter.

Two miles north-west of the town lies the Neroberg (800 ft.), whence a fine view of the surrounding country is obtained, and which is reached by a funicular railway from Beausite, and 6 m. to the west lies the Hohe Wurzel (2025 ft.) with an outlook tower.

Wiesbaden is one of the oldest watering-places in Germany, and may be regarded as the capital of the Taunus spas. The springs mentioned by Pliny (Hist. nat. xxi. 2) as Fontes Matthiaci were known to the Romans, who fortified the place c. 11 B.C. The massive wall in the centre of the town known as the Heidenmauer was probably part of the fortifications built under Diocletian. The name Wisibada (“meadow bath”) appears in 830. Under the Carolingian monarchs it was the site of a palace, and Otto I. gave it civic rights. In the 11th century the town and district passed to the counts of Nassau, fell to the Walram line in 1255, and in 1353 Wiesbaden became with Idstein capital of the county Nassau-Idstein. It suffered much from the ravages of the Thirty Years' War and was destroyed in 1644. In 1744 it became the seat of government of the principality Nassau-Usingen, and was from 1815 to 1866 the capital of the duchy of Nassau, when it passed with that duchy to Prussia. Though the springs were never quite forgotten, they did not attain their greatest repute until the close of the 18th century. From 1771 to 1873 Wiesbaden was a notorious gambling resort; but in the latter year public gambling was suppressed by the Prussian government.

See Roth, Geschichte und historische Topographie der Stadt Wiesbaden (Wiesbaden, 1883); Pagenstecher, Wiesbaden in medizinisch-topographischer Beziehung (Wiesbaden, 1870); Kranz, Wiesbaden und seine Thermen (Leipzig, 1884); Pfeiffer, Wiesbaden als Kurort (5th ed., Wiesbaden, 1899); and Heyl, Wiesbaden und seine Umgebungen (27th ed., Wiesbaden, 1908).