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History of the Bath House

The "Schwarzer Bock" in Wiesbaden is opened as a bath house. This special year is still recorded above the door of the hotel bar. Founded in 1486, the hotel is the oldest incorporation in the city of Wiesbaden.

But how did the name "Schwarzer Bock" come about? Word has it that the first owner of the Bath House was the mayor, Philipp zu Bock. Because his hair was black ("schwarz" in German), his premises were referred to as "Zum schwarzen Bock."

The Schwarzer Bock and the town of Wiesbaden suffer great damage from fires, and the house is rebuilt by Hermann Burg.

In the middle of the Thirty Years War: "The Bock is fairly deserted and has no residents." By the end of the war only 51 citizens remained in the town of Wiesbaden.

It is known that the "Bock" is back in operation; it even has two mass baths.

Wiesbaden again suffers at the arrival of the French troops of Louis XIV. The area is secured by trenches, gates and towers.

The main scars of the Thirty Years War have healed, and the "Bock" is included in the list of bath houses as "Zum Schwarzen Bock."

The Schwarzer Bock is rebuilt and in the same year enlarged by the acquisition of further land.

Johann Philipp Schramm, valet to Prince Georg August Samuel, becomes the new owner of the Schwarzer Bock by marrying the resident widow. To render his bath house profitable, he erects a horse bath, quite an attraction for such a small town.

The eight legitimate bath house owners appoint two well masters every year to supervise, repair and clean the hot springs. The spring waters not only supply their own baths but are also sold in abundant quantities to Mainz, Frankfurt and other towns.

The Schwarzer Bock flourishes and is awarded the accolade "Bath House of the First Order."

Following Schramm's death, the "Schwarzer Bock" is transferred to the surgeon and hospital administrator Johann Daniel Freinsheim, whose widow continues to manage the Bath House until 1779. There then follows a division of the estates.

Ladies of Frankfurt ensure, when drawing up their marriage contracts, that they may take the waters in Wiesbaden once each year – without their husbands.

End of the century
The new owner is the proprietor of the "Spiegel" (Mirror) bath house, Ferdinand Daniel Bergmann. He closes down the horse bath, for "during the war years, everyone wanted the same service for nothing ... "

The owner, the affluent Bergmann, passes away. His wife continues to manage operations for four years and then passes the premises on to her stepson, Christian Bauer, who by trade is a postal secretary. Bauer runs not only the Bath House, but also the post office and a wine business. At the advice of the Nassau government, he reinstates a horse bath, offering room for two horses.

Goethe takes a cure at the Schwarzer Bock and sums up the experience thus: "The primary duty of every bather is not to sit and think, but rather to bend to a higher purpose his wit, and make a merry life of it."

The "Bock" is sold to a married couple by the name of Rudolph.

The couple passes the "Bock" on to their two daughters. The property now has 47 rooms and can offer 50 baths per day. In the bath houses, guests have only accommodation and baths; they must feed themselves by cooking on the stoves in their rooms.

Dostoevsky works on his novel The Gambler while staying at the Schwarzer Bock – the casino is just around the corner. He squanders his travel budget at the roulette table. The ownership of the Schwarzer Bock also changes hands, to the merchant Theodor August Schäfer.

Schäfer purchases the adjacent guesthouse "Zur goldenen Kette" (Golden Chain). All the bath houses located around the Kranzplatz square are now of considerable age and can no longer keep up with the prevailing demands. Schäfer identifies the problem: the Schwarzer Bock and Goldene Kette, with the Bath House Zum Schwarzen Bock, are demolished and replaced prior to the First World War by a modern new building. After unifying the Goldene Kette with the Bath House Zum Schwarzen Bock, all the springs now converge on the land of the Schwarzer Bock, and its owners consider joining them together to capture them as one spring. In doing so, the aim is to simplify the previous ownership and share ratios as well as improve hygienic conditions.

An appropriate application to the magistrate is approved. The city develops the facility, and the costs are divided between the bath house owners. The new, joint spring is given the name "Spring of the Three Lilies" to reflect the three lilies of the Wiesbaden coat of arms.

Untouched by world history, Wiesbaden becomes a city of "European design" and an international spa centre. The Schwarzer Bock now has baths with electric lighting, lifts and 220 beds – at room prices of 5 marks (3.50 US dollars)!

The roof of the "Schwarzer Bock" is extended.

Europe is immersed in the First World War. But in 1919, the diary of a spa guest exclaims, "It is six in the morning. Spa guests flock to the springs from every street, alley and pathway."

The emblem of the Schwarzer Bock appears for the first time on hotel stationery.

The Schwarzer Bock now has 260 rooms, all with running water but still at just 5 marks.

In addition to the bath cubicles already available on the ground floor, shared baths are installed on each floor and the left wing of the building is extended during this period.

After the Second World War, Karl-Heinz Schäfer reclaims his ravaged hotel. The upper floors were destroyed by the bombing, but the facade was largely preserved. The roof is given a completely new extension. Just one year later, the "Bock" is "standing" again: "The first guests have moved in, and we can only take pre-bookings with reservation!" exclaimed the head of reception to the Wiesbaden Courier paper.

The final renovation work is complete: The Schäfer family can now present a new and modernised Schwarzer Bock. Fitted with all the latest technology of the age, it has just over 160 rooms embellished in part by antique splendour. Of particular attraction is the Ingelheim Room with its precious wood carvings from the 16th century and one of the most beautiful Renaissance ceilings originating from 1870-71.

The Schäfer family sells. Frans-Pieter de Rooy from Amsterdam purchases the hotel and leases to Winfried D. E. Völcker, who later goes on to buy the Schwarzer Bock. He introduced the Schwarzer Bock as the first German hotel to the group of Distinguished Hotels of the World, the most prominent member of which is the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok.

The hotel is sold to Deutsche Interhotel GmbH.

1995 until the present
Since 1995, the Schwarzer Bock has been managed by Radisson Blu. The 142 comfortable, stylish rooms all have air conditioning, marble baths, ISDN connections, high-speed Internet and wireless LAN. The classic Bath House, with its famous thermal bath, is today still an attraction to young and old. The Capricorne Restaurant awaits guests with light, creative cuisine in an exquisite setting. Here, history is paired with modern art. The ambience of the Ingelheim Room, a banqueting room for special occasions, is still characterised by precious wood panelling and carvings originating from the 16th century.

Depfa Bank (now Aareal Bank) becomes the new owner of the company Schwarzer Bock Hotel Betriebs GmbH.

New owner of the Schwarzer Bock is the company Capital Hotel Management B.V.

During this period, extensive renovation work takes place in various areas: Capricorne Restaurant (1998), three new conference rooms (2000), reception and meeting rooms (2002), kitchen and banquetting terrace on the fifth floor (2003), hotel rooms (2004-2005), Bar 1486 (2005), kitchen and Bath House (2009-2010).

4 September 2010
Following intensive renovation work, the traditional Bath House, with its modern installations, is again available to guests for unlimited use.

In the historical part of the Bath House, a total of four cubicles for bathtubs and massage treatments were restored and renovated in order to honour the century-old tradition of spa culture. In the rear, contemporary part – the SPA area – a Finnish sauna, steam room and sensory shower have been installed. The indoor pool has also been completely renovated, replacing the old pool with one measuring 16 x 23 feet which is filled with water from the thermal spring at a temperature of more than 90°F. There is also a spacious relaxation room with a view over the pool, enabling rest and recuperation.

In future, guests can choose between more than 30 treatments, relaxing baths, intensive massages or facials and body treatments. They are pampered by experienced specialists in massage and cosmetics and by salutologists, who provide guests with holistic health treatments. At the official reopening on 4 September 2010, the hotel and team of the new Bath House invited hotel guests and Wiesbaden inhabitants to enjoy a sensory day of health, SPA and wellness in the new Bath House.

Radisson Blu Schwarzer Bock Hotel, Wiesbaden  – 
Kranzplatz, 12  –  D-65183 –  Wiesbaden –  Germany – 
Phone  +49 611 1550
50.085393 8.241441