Hot springs A fragrance all its own
In Aachen, hunger pangs can come out of he blue, not just when sampling its many international culinary delights, but even when taking your very first sniff of the city.
- origin of the name “City of Water”
- springs “given away” by the many fountains
- the “source” of our centuries-old tradition of wellness and bathing
- in his day, Casanova relaxed in Aachen’s thermal waters
Aachen, you see, has a fragrance all its own. In wintertime it smells of gingerbread “Printen”, marzipan and chocolate, and all year round you get wafts of vanilla, jam and “Pflümli”, the city’s very own plum preserve. In one or two places you’ll even get a whiff of sulphur seemingly straight from the fires of hell – no wonder Aachen legends are full of fights with the devil.
Never fear! The true reason for this smell is less cataclysmic, but just as amazing. If, at first sight, you’re tempted to wonder where all the water is, rest easy. Aachen is home to central Europe’s hottest springs – over 30 of them. Wherever you trace their routes you’ll get a sulphurous smell and see steam rising, and whenever you stand on a manhole cover and whiff the giveaway aroma you’ll know that, deep down, this city’s bubbling – and has been for millennia.
Working springs in Aachen
Aachen still has working springs. You can taste mineral water from the Elisenbrunnen, marvel at the decorative fountains outside the casino, use coins to cheat fate at the Geldbrunnen fountain or take some healthy time out in the thermal waters of the health clinics (Kurkliniken) in Aachen’s Burtscheid district.
But be on your guard: a monster is said to lurk in the springs, and local lore has it that “Bahkauv” waits on Büchel street to hitch a late-night lift home on the shoulders of people who have had a bit too much to drink (only loud-mouthed swearing is said to make the load easier to bear!). And those who prefer to swim the sweet waters of a non-alcoholic lifestyle can relax in the warm spring water of the Carolus Thermen baths – no devils, no monsters, just packed full of minerals and history.
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