I used to live in Vienna and neighboring Prague, and this is an architectural style I adore. Jugenstil, art deco, art nouveau, Secessionsstil — it goes by many names.
The Alpine spa town and watering hole of Bad Gastein, in Austria’s Salzburg province has some fine examples. I’ve already written about the historic Hotel de l’Europe Gastein in an earlier post.
This style was especially popular between 1890 and 1910, and this was when many of the town’s great hotels and large villas were constructed.
This is because, around that time, it was discovered that the local waters contained radon, believed to be effective in curing a number of ailments, including arthritis.
Thanks to this therapy, Bad Gastein became a popular spa resort in the 19th century. Empress Sisi (wife of Kaiser Franz Joseph) was a guest here, as was German Emperor Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismark. The composer Franz Schubert came to take the waters and to work from this Alpine perch. His Piano Sonata in D major was composed here.
This glamour slowly wore off after World War I, but better rail lines did revive the town with mass tourism. However, by the 1960s, many of the grand, old hotels were largely empty.
Today, it makes a nice destination for summer sports, hiking, biking and visits to the newly renovated spa. In winter, it’s a popular skiing destination.
And when you’re here, be sure to enjoy wandering around all the wonderful, old Jugendstil architecture, and wonder what a visit would have been like at the turn of the last century, to the strains of Schubert.