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Leseprobe SIGHTGEIST / Rubrik: Health

A Symphony of Wellbeing

Royal compositions of pleasure

Hidden behind a curtain of densely wooded mountains in the verdant southern Vogtland district, at the heart of a European region between Bavaria, Bohemia and Saxony known for its health spas, is the resort town of Bad Elster. Not until you enter the town proper does the White Elster River valley open up and the lush greenery give way to views of the historic Royal Saxon State Spa of Bad Elster. But this charming resort does not divulge all of its secrets at once; it leaves some to be discovered.

PRECIOUS SOURCES OF NATURAL HEALING
The countless mineral and mud springs in and around Bad Elster have been known for their health benefits since the 17th century, though for many years they only served the local population. In 1848, King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (1836-1854) granted the town the status of a Royal Saxon State Spa and established a mud spa, one of Germany’s first. Elster thrived in the founding years of the German Empire under the regency of King Albert of Saxony (1873-1902). In 1875, it was designated a spa town and renamed Bad Elster.

With ten mineral springs, beneficial natural mud reserves and the recently opened salt water spa, Bad Elster is a popular health resort that boasts a wealth of medical expertise in the field of spa therapy. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of health treatments at Albert Baths – a state-of-the-art therapy and spa centre – and Bad Elster Salt Water Hot Spring and Sauna World, which opened in September 2015. Here, visitors can enjoy the experience of floating in the water with its high salt content and relax throughout the two-storey spa complex. The spa is fed from its own salt water spring in the Elstertal Valley. Drilling operations in 2009 unearthed this natural resource, which had slumbered below the surface for millions of years, shielded from all environmental influences. Located 1,200 metres underground, the mineralised water has an unusually high percentage of sodium sulphate and chloride, making it unique in both its composition and concentration. In scientific terms it is referred to as a highly saturated sodium sulphate spring. With its salt content of 22 percent, the spring water is extracted at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius and fed in diluted form to three pools, each of which has a different salinity. The high percentage of salt gives the water a higher density, meaning that guests do not sink, but literally float. This relaxing experience has a stabilising and harmonious effect on the vegetative nervous system, loosens the muscles and relieves the joints.

ROYAL FESTIVAL MILE
The royal grounds in Bad Elster, formerly the king’s summer residence, were a gathering place for high society in Europe in the early 20th century. The elegant, cosmopolitan flair of the architecture from this period is still very much alive today in the ensemble of buildings that have been skilfully restored, and in the romantic parks with their charming pathways. Standing – one could even say “residing” – at the heart of town are the Albert Baths, constructed in 1908 in the art nouveau style, and the famous King Albert Theatre from 1913/14, one of the most magnificent German court theatres ever built. Around them, the Saxon Baths Museum and KunstWandelhalle art museum with the Moritzquelle mineral spring are arranged along the festival mile. Marienquelle, a natural wellspring housed in a beautiful templelike structure, is particularly striking. The palatial Royal Convalescence House built in 1888-1890 in the neo-Renaissance style and three music pavilions are also nearby. The historic spa park, which recently celebrated its 140th anniversary, has lost none of its charm. It is known far and wide for its colourful blaze of rhododendrons that blossom in early summer from May to June. The park with its pathways generously incorporates this architecturally impressive ensemble of royal buildings. Guests can enjoy a leisurely stroll from historic Albert Park through the spa park to Paul-Schindel Park. One popular destination is Louisa Pond, where rowing boats can be hired. Bad Elster’s Nature Theatre, built in 1911 and the oldest of its kind in Saxony, can be found in Waldpark, a particularly refreshing place in summer. Between May and September, the theatre offers a broad programme of events, including opera, operetta, concerts, cinema and folklore. (excerpt)

Carsten Schulz-Nötzold, decorum Kommunikation

Photo: (c) Sächsische Staatsbäder GmbH/Igor Pastierovic

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