For centuries our medicinal water has attracted persons of renown from throughout the world. King Ludwig I, Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Empress Catherine the Great, they all tasted the delicious waters, which are also called champagne because of their natural carbonic acid content. The State Spa was visited by, among others:
Romantic politician. Crown prince Ludwig is born on 25 August 1786 in Strasbourg. His parents are Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria, and Auguste Wilhelmine von Hessen-Darmstadt. In 1810, Ludwig marries Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Ludwig spends his years as Crown Prince from 1816-1825 in Aschaffenburg and Würzburg, before being designated King Ludwig I of “Baiern”. Only one day after taking his oath as king, King Ludwig I directed that the name “Baiern” was to be written with a “y”.
In 1818, while he was still Crown Prince, he visited Bad Brückenau for the first time. Inspired by the peace and unspoilt nature, in contrast to the turbulent “Residenz” in Munich, he came to Bad Brückenau 25 more times, and these visits had a decisive influence on the town. He completed the baroque installations in the State Spa, had the springs rebuilt and, from today’s point of view, was one of the first ecologists, taking up the special cause of protecting nature in the Sinn valley. It is thanks to his commitment in the fields of educational policy, culture and churches that 75 new monasteries were established between 1826 and 1848, as were universities and centralised schools. In 1835, on Ludwig’s initiative, the new coat of arms for Bavaria was adopted, symbolising all of the ethnic groups in Bavaria (Old Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, the Palatinate, Franconia, Swabia). In 1846 the 25-year-old dancer Elizabeth Gilbert, alias Lola Montez, arrives in Munich, where she becomes acquainted with the King and becomes the mistress of the 60-year-old. In 1847 Lola Montez, who has meanwhile been given the title of Countess Landsfeld, and Ludwig spend some time together in the anonymity of Bad Brückenau. Numerous poems about her and letters to Lola Montez today show the King’s deep affection. In 1848, armed students and civil unrest throughout Bavaria lead to the abdication of the King. His older son Maximilian II becomes his successor. Queen Theresa dies in 1854, King Ludwig in Nice on 29 February 1868.
The mistress of King Ludwig I, Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert (Lola Montez), is born in the Irish village of Grange, near Sligo, on 17 February 1821. Her parents are the English officer Edward Gilbert and Eliza Oliver, who is descended from Irish gentry. In 1823 Edward Gilbert is moved to Calcutta in the British colonial empire with his young family. Elizabeth grows up in India, England and Scotland. In 1837 she marries the officer Thomas James. The couple divorce and Elizabeth Gilbert returns to England.
Elizabeth Gilbert becomes Lola Montez. In June 1843 she appears in London for the first time as a solo dancer from Seville. The public is not fooled by her change of identity. The dancer leaves England and travels through the Continent. She has guest appearances in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Berlin, Dresden and Paris. Her appearances are always accompanied by scandals and affairs, and she is usually expelled from the cities. In France she is involved in a sensational trial after her lover is shot dead in a duel.
Her stay in Bad Brückenau in 1847 is the highlight of her career. Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, gives his mistress Lola Montez the title of Countess of Landsfeld. She becomes the catalyst for the 1848 revolution in Munich. Lola Montez reaches New York in February 1851. She dies in New York on 17 January 1861, shortly before her 40th birthday, and is buried in the cemetery in Brooklyn.
A special physician. Melchior Adam Weikard was appointed physician of Brückenau Office in 1764, and thus spa doctor of the State Spa. He was born in Römershag, a district of Bad Brückenau, as the son of a landlord who lived there, and even today, the house where he was born is still preserved as an inn.
Weikard wrote several spring texts and invitations “to take the waters in Bad Brückenau”. He thus made the young health resort well known far beyond the borders of Germany. In 1784 he was appointed Court Physician to the Russian Empress Catherine II at the Imperial Court in St. Petersburg. Weikard returned to Bad Brückenau and died there in July 1803.
The urologist who made Bad Brückenau world famous. The appointment of Dr. Felix Schlagintweit, an internationally recognised expert in the field of urology, as the “spa physician” was a piece of good fortune for Bad Brückenau. His specialist books and journals, which were read and respected worldwide, helped Bad Brückenau to achieve world fame as a health spa for diseases of the kidneys and of the bladder. Kings and emperors visited Bad Brückenau while Schlagintweit was practising there. One of his most famous patients was Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who took the waters in Bad Brückenau for 4 weeks in 1898. Dr. Felix Schlagintweit died in 1950. Before his widow died in 1959, she bequeathed part of her estate to the Free State of Bavaria.
An outstanding doctor and audacious designer. The son of Bad Brückenau citizens had studied in Fulda and Heidelberg, and with enormous commitment succeeded his great predecessor Melchior Adam Weikards as spa doctor in Bad Brückenau. Zwierlein caused a great stir with his idea of introducing new women’s fashion specially for the health cure. As spa doctor, he wanted simpler clothing than what was worn at that time – a kind of spa uniform.
To this end, he organised a women’s congress in Bad Brückenau in 1792. There is, however, no proof that the spa uniform designed then was actually produced. Today a replica of the model can be seen in the museum in Bad Brückenau.