I left Basel today and traveled to Baden-Baden via train. The weather was much better than forecast (68 and sunny), so I knew that I wanted to hike up to the Altes Schloss (old castle), which was one of the few stops Calvin and Octavia made here. The original name of the castle was Schloss Hohenbaden, and was built in 1102 as a home to the Margraves of Baden.
Octavia was quite taken with the landscape:
"Went this morning to Episcopal C[hurch] and to the old Castle (feudal). Winding up the mountain, at each angle a changing picture. The immense ruins, old trees stretching their broad arms through the broken wall, moss covered towers (watch), banquet hall, wine cellar, balcony, view, . . . climbed the mountain, grand, romantic, each turn increased in sublimity.
Byron, “Here thy soul might love to linger.”
Calvin writes in a letter to his son Mont:
"We returned to Strasburg and immediately came to Baden in Baden, the occasional residence of the grand Duke. It is a curious place. Yesterday we went to the Altes Schloss (Old Castle) now in ruins, that seems just over our heads and yet by the carriage road is 2 eng. miles. Today we shall see the new palace— not quite over our heads, but nearly; … The Springs here [Baden] are about 150 degrees of Temperature, and the water is always hot enough to scald hogs, chickens and boil eggs. It is usually drunk tolerably warm. At the “Trink Hall” (pump room) a superb place where there is band of music every morning) it is furnished at the proper temperature. It is conveyed by pipes— piping hot, into almost every house where there are baths (There are many Germans, French, and English here (and 2 Americans)...
The promenade along the Oos (a beautiful swift stream that turns a good many curious corn mills) and those winding in the hills among the thick white pines & hemlocks are very fine. Why need I repeat any thing of this— the whole country and all that belongs to it is highly ornamented, even the mill house that I have just come out of would surprise Mr. Miller and parson somebody with a bishops name. But promenades cannot be mentioned after the Gardens of the Tuileries."
After my hike up and down the mountain to the castle (2 hours round trip), I walked into town to look at the baths, the Roman bath ruins, and the promenade by the Oos river. Baden Baden is known for its thermal baths, and the entire town is built around them, functioning mainly as a spa and healing resort.