"Saxony's Spa Town No. 1" Bad Elster by german_eagle
Bad Elster Travel Guide: 13 reviews and 54 photos
Bad Elster is Saxony's leading spa town. First mentioned in 1378 and since the 15th century part of Saxony the town progressed after the mineral springs were commercially used. 1670 the first spring (outside the town, left bank of the river) was caught, from 1818 on treatments were offered. In 1848 the town got the title of a State Spa town which initiated the development of a spa district along the river, below the original town. Most of the buildings that you see nowadays date from a second era of development in the early 20th century. Thus no Belle Epoque architecture, what you see is mostly moderate Art Nouveau and Bauhaus style.
During the Communist era the business in town went well, but the earned money was not re-invested (as usual under the Communists) so when the wall fell in 1989 the guests stayed away and Bad Elster went downhill. It took only a few years until the Saxon State administration started with big investments - and it shows. The sanatoriums and public spas, the Kurhaus and theatre, the springs and gardens/parks were reconstructed. Although the town cannot compete with the nearby famous Czech spa towns it is a surprisingly nice place, relatively quiet but with enough activities for a pleasant stay.
I visited in spring 2009. Weather was pretty good, flowers were in bloom, spa and baths in operation. I only stayed for two nights but due to the short distance from home (2 hours) I arrived had three full days to explore the area. Bad Elster deserves a full day, especially if you attend a concert in the afternoon, book spa treatment(s) and decide to stroll through the gardens.
I highly recommend a day trip to the nearby Czech spa town Frantiskovy Lazne, which is very beautiful, not overrun like Karlovy Vary and not as expensive as the latter. My hosts recommended Marianske Lazne, also in day trip distance, but as it was quite a bit farther than Frantiskovy Lazne I opted for the latter.
I was somewhat disappointed by the town of Cheb/Eger, which I explored after a good half day in Frantiskovy Lazne. Quite run down, often only the facades restored, if at all.
For longer stays visits of Bad Brambach, the castle in Schönberg, the musical instruments corner around Markneukirchen or Plauen are highly recommended. And don't forget the endless hiking/biking opportunities around Bad Elster!
When in Bad Elster you might consider an excursion to Bad Brambach, the southernmost town in Saxony, right on the Czech... more travel advice
The mineral springs are the basis for the spa business. You are welcome to drink the water from the springs (free). I... more travel advice
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