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Bad Kreuznach

After the narrows between Rotenfels and Rheingrafenstein, the Nahe reaches the bay of Kreuznach, a fertile plain with evidence of early settlers. The city of Bad Kreuznach is the population centre of the area, lying at the crossroads of very old traffic routes. The climate of Kreuznach Bay is very favourable, as the duration of the vegetation time bears out; For instance, the beech trees turn green around the 20th of April and the leaves fall around the 20th of November. The trees are therefore in leaf for approximately 2 months longer than those in the Idar and Hochwald, just 50km west. The name "Kreuznach" is probably of Celtic origin and comes from the Latin Cruciniacum (=Cross). In Roman times Bad Kreuznach was an important trading place; Emperor Augustus built a custom facility here, probably during his stay in Gaul 16-13 B.C. Remains from a Roman fort from 370 A.D. with a square floor plan of over 100m length are still preserved today (at the Heide wall). In Roman times, Bad Kreuznach was an important centre of commerce as the "Villa Suburbana", built in the 2nd century, attests to, as does the Roman fort built in 370. The Villa probably belonged to a senator from Mainz or a wealthy landowner. In contrast to merely functional buildings like farm or guild houses, this luxurious Peristyle villa was very comfortable to live in (a Peristyle is an atrium surrounded by columns). The building had running water, crystal windows, plastered and painted walls, as well as under-floor heating and large baths. The four wings of the Villa and the generous atrium together resulted in an 81m x 71m surface area. The Villa was slightly secluded, about 300m away from the main street leading through the Nahe Valley to Cruciniacum. The size, building style and furnishings of the villa with its large, completely conserved floor mosaics are unparalleled by other Roman buildings anywhere north of the Alps.

200 years after its construction, due to the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Villa was rebuilt into a fortress and was ultimately deserted. The Kreuznacher Museum Römerhalle, now sits on the site of the Villa and displays the 68m2 Oceanus mosaic. The mosaic depicts a Mediterranean landscape including sea animals, ships, boats, port buildings and the Sea god Oceanus. The Museum also houses the Gladiator-mosaic which is 58 square meters. It illustrates animal and gladiator fights as well as several sculptures and other Roman artefacts. In the 11th century, Bad Kreuznach gained importance via the Earls of Sponheim, which received the area around the turn of the millennium as fiefdom. The Kauzen fortress high above the city (firstly documented in 1205) became the official residence of the Earls and secured the crossing over the Nahe. The main landmark of Bad Kreuznach is the bridge over the Nahe, lined with houses. The bridge has eight arches, was built around 1300 and first mentioned in records in 1332. Towards the end of the 15th century, the building of houses on the bridge began. Also worthy of a visit is Paulus Church (dedicated in 1332) on the Nahewörth, a small island between Nahe and Mühlenteich. The egg market remains a focal point of city life and Bad Kreuznach's oldest church was erected here in 1230 by the Earls of Sponheim. The church passed to the ownership of the Order of Carmelites in 1281.

Bad Kreuznach is also an old bath city, fed by the numerous local mineral springs containing substances with curative effects valued by the Celts and Romans alike. Today's health spa was founded in 1817 and has plentiful saltwater sources used for bathing and drinking treatments.

Bad Kreuznach is noted in world literature; In a time where astrologists, alchemists and magicians were welcome guests in Europe's royal residences, a certain Georgius Sabellicus Faustus visited Bad Kreuznach in 1507. According to letters kept by the Sponheim Abbot Johannes Trithemius claimed he would be the best of all alchemists. At that time, a teaching post became available in Bad Kreuznach and Faustus gained the position on the recommendation of Reichritter Franz of Sickingen of the Ebernburg who was a great supporter of alchemy and astrology. Faustus practiced folkloristic magic in order to supplement his income but became involved in a scandal and was forced to leave Bad Kreuznach abruptly. Little more is known about Faustus and records cease in 1545, which is likely to be when he died. The reformation provided fertile ground for debates about magicians and diabolic Nekromants (Magicians who made the dead appear) and as a result, a rudimentary version of the story of an invocation of the devil by Faustus appeared some time before 1576. According to reports, the invocation of the devil took place before students in Wittenberg. Further "inappropriate" deeds followed. Ten years later the famous Faustbuch was finished (Historia von D. Johan Faustus; 1587), the book Goethe based his Faust on. The Faust book quickly grew in popularity and soon after its publication, Christopher Marlow's "Doctor Faustus" was staged in England in 1588. It is unsurprising to note that Faust's former home can be seen in Bad Kreuznach.

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