24km (15 miles) SW of Vienna; 299km (186 miles) E of Salzburg

Around A.D. 100, the Romans were drawn to Aquae, the name they gave to Baden, by its 15 thermal springs whose temperatures reach 95°F (35°C). You can still see the Römerquelle (Roman Spring) in the Kurpark, which is the center of Baden bei Wien today. The resort is officially named Baden bei Wien to differentiate it from other Badens not near Vienna.

Czar Peter the Great of Russia ushered in Baden's golden age by establishing a spa there at the beginning of the 18th century. The Soviet army used the resort city as its occupation headquarters from the end of World War II to 1955, but the Russians left little mark on "the dowager empress of European health spas."

Although the spa was at its most fashionable in the early 18th century, it continued to lure royalty and their entourages, musicians, and intellectuals for much of the 19th century. This lively casino town and spa in the eastern sector of the Vienna Woods was for years the summer residence of the Hapsburg court. In 1803, Franz I began annual summer visits to Baden.

During the mid- to late 19th century, Baden became known for its Schönbrunn yellow (Maria Theresia ocher) Biedermeier buildings, which still contribute to the city's charm. The Kurpark, Baden's center, is handsomely laid out and beautifully maintained. Public concerts performed here pay tribute to great Austrian composers.

The bathing complex was constructed over more than a dozen sulfur springs. Visitors today flock to the half-dozen bath establishments, as well as the four outdoor thermal springs. These springs reach temperatures ranging from 75° to 95°F (24°-35°C). The thermal complex also has a "sandy beach" and a restaurant. It lies west of the center in the Doblhoffpark, a natural park featuring a lake where you can rent sailboats. There's also a rose garden restaurant in the park.