The small town of Baden is today both an industrial-urban settlement within the wider conurbation of Zurich with modern, city foci, but also a tranquil thermal spa resort and cultural centre – a town of contrasts.
Switzerland’s thermal springs with the highest mineral concentration bubble out at a temperature of 47 °C from 18 sulphurous springs in Baden. The town has been famous as a lively curative resort since Roman times, when Baden was known as "Aquae Helveticae". A bathing quarter with ostentatious buildings, to help offer relief to sufferers of rheumatism and circulatory diseases, was an early town feature on the shores of the river Limmat. Notable people such as Goethe, Nietzsche and Dürrenmatt sought out the Baden thermal springs in which to relax. Bathing is carried out in the public thermal baths nowadays, wellness packages being more common in the private baths. Today, the spa quarter with its numerous hotels is an oasis of tranquillity.
The lively small town, situated only 20 minutes from Zurich and the airport, has a diverse and rich cultural offering. International festivals and the Grand Casino rank among its highlights. The car-free old town with its historic defensive structures and municipal buildings, several theatres and notable museums constitute further cultural attractions. The Langmatt Foundation is one of Switzerland’s finest art collections – the industrialist families Brown and Boveri bequeathed valuable paintings and furniture dating from the impressionist period. The young ones will feel right at home in the Swiss Children’s Museum: it has exhibits collected from a 300-year-association with the world of children.
The golden-coloured Power Tower, which the Basle architects Diener & Diener designed for the ABB and Alstom Groups, rises not far from the spa park with its ancient trees and the Grand Casino. Former industrial sites are being reinvigorated with urban features and attractions. Today, the nearby former ABB site is home to an experience centre with a multiplex cinema, café and convention facilities.