An architectural highlight in Aachen with a wellness element
With its classical-style beauty, the Elisenbrunnen pump room in Aachen is an archi-tectural highlight in the imperial city. Its water from the “Kaiserquelle” imperial spring is said to have healing properties.
Alongside the famous cathedral, the Elisenbrunnen is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Aachen, the westernmost major city in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is named after the crown princess Elisabeth (Elise) Ludovika von Bayern.
Built in the classical style, it above served a representational purpose. It stands first and foremost for the well-developed spa and bathing culture in the City of Aachen which, if it so wished, would have the right to call itself “Kurort Bad Aachen”, or “Aachen Spa”.
With its numerous spa water sources, Aachen was already well known as a bathing town in Roman times, and for centuries was and important and popular destination for spa guests. Emperor Charlemagne is said to have permanently moved his residency to Aachen mainly because of the beneficial effects of the spa baths, which were heated naturally by the Eifel volcanoes.
The pump room is a reconstruction
The Elisenbrunnen was completed in 1827, and still stands on the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz square. However, today’s pump room is a reconstruction, since the original Elisenbrunnen was almost entirely destroyed by bombs during the Second World War.
A copy of the original was built in the early 1950s. The world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was born in Aachen, was a strong supporter of an unaltered, exact copy of the building.
Visitors to the city can now admire the representative structure, which pumps water from the “Kaiserquelle”, just as it looked when it was built by the original architect, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, at the beginning of the 19th century.
In its time, the pump room was also an attraction for well-known historical figures such as Peter the Great, Friedrich the Great, Giacomo Casanova and Georg Friedrich Handel, who were frequent visitors to the Elisenbrunnen. Marble panels in the hall are a reminder of these visits today.
Mineral water from the “Kaiserquelle” spring
The Elisenbrunnen consists of an open foyer with a columned portico and two adjoining pavilions to the left and right. The mineral water from the Kaiserquelle burbles out of two integrated drinking fountains at a temperature of 52°C. The water, which is highly sulphurous, creates the well-known smell of rotten eggs in the pump room.
Sulphurous water is said to have particular healing properties, and bathing in it or drinking it can apparently help heal a wide range of different ailments. However, due to its contents, the water may no longer be drunk fresh from the fountain, since the law on medicinal products prescribes that spa water with a special chemical composition may only be drunk under supervision from a medical doctor.
The Elisengarten, a small park designed in 1852-54 by the well-known Prussian landscape artist Peter Joseph Lenné, is located just behind the Elisenbrunnen, and was re-designed from 2007-2009 by landscape architects Lützow 7.