Baden-Baden is a spa town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany (district capital is the city of Karlsruhe). It is located in the northern foothills of the Black Forest, on the banks of the Oos River in close proximity to France and Switzerland.
The German word, Baden, translates as "bathing, to bathe or baths". The springs of Baden-Baden were known to the Romans under Roman emperor Hadrian. The bath-conscious Caracalla, once came here to ease his arthritic aches. Baden was also known as Aurelia Aquensis, in honour of Aurelius Severus, during whose reign Baden would seem to have been well known. Fragments of its ancient sculptures are still to be seen and in 1847, the well preserved remains of Roman vapour baths were discovered just below the New Castle.
The town was named "Baden" (without the repetition) in the Middle Ages. The town fell into ruin but reappeared in 1112 as the seat (until 1705) of the Margraviate of Baden. From the 14th century to the end of the 17th, Baden-Baden was the residence of the margraves of Baden, to whom Baden-Baden gave its name. The margraves first dwelled in the old castle, the ruins of which still occupy the summit above the town, but, in 1479, they moved to the new castle, which is situated on the hillside nearer to the town. During the Thirty Years' War and the Nine Years' War, Baden-Baden suffered severely from the various combatants, especially from the French, who pillaged it in 1643 and left it in ashes in 1689. The margrave Louis William, popularly known as Türkenlouis, moved to Rastatt in 1705.
During the Second Congress of Rastatt (1797–1799), Baden-Baden was rediscovered as a spa town. The popularity of the city as a spa dates from the early 19th century, when the Prussian queen visited the site to improve her health. During the 19th century, the town rose to become a meeting place for celebrities, who were attracted by the hot springs as well as by the famous Baden-Baden Casino, the luxury hotels, the horse races, and the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee. Clients included Queen Victoria, Wilhelm I, Napoleon III, Berlioz, Brahms, Turgenev, and Dostoyevsky. Baden-Baden is a setting in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (though the city is given a different name), as well as for Turgenev's novel Smoke. Baden-Baden at that time nicknamed the European summer capital and reached its zenith under Napoleon III during the 1850s and 1860s. The Russian writer, Dostoevsky, wrote The Gambler while compulsively gambling at the Baden-Baden Casino. Johannes Brahms' local residence, the Brahmshaus, can still be visited today.
In 1931, the town of Baden-Baden was officially given its double name, which is the short form for "Baden in Baden" (i.e., Baden in the state of Baden). This was already in common use to distinguish the town from Baden bei Wien ("Baden near Vienna") and Baden, Switzerland. In both World Wars, the town escaped destruction. After World War II, Baden-Baden became the headquarters of the French occupation forces in Germany.
Under the supervision of the French Air Force, a military airfield was constructed at Söllingen between the Black Forest and the Rhine River, west of Baden-Baden; the runway and associated facilities were completed in June 1952. In 1953, units of the Royal Canadian Air Force were accommodated at the base later known as CFB Baden-Soellingen. In the 1990s, the base was converted into a civil airport, the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (as part of Baden Airpark), which is now the second-largest airport in Baden-Württemberg by number of passengers.