The History of the Spa Town Bad Mergentheim

The first documented case of the name Mergentheim dates back to 1058. Since the end of the 12th century the Order of St. John has been based in Mergentheim. In the 13th century, the German Teutonic Order and the Dominican Order came to Mergentheim.

German Teutonic Order Castle
German Teutonic Order Castle

In 1525, when Horneck Castle, which was the residence at the time of the DeutschmeisterDeutschmeister, was destroyed, the “Commandery Mergentheim” became their new headquarters. Two years later, the Deutschmeister also officiated as “Administrator of the Grand Masters in Prussia”, and with this Mergentheim became the residence of the Grand Masters and Deutschmeister.

In the year 1809, the grandeur of the residency came to an abrupt end. By order of Napoleon the religious orders area of Mergentheim was to be unified with the crown of Württemberg. Mergentheim became a Württemberg district authority but despite this declined into a small, insignificant country town.

The discovery of mineral springs in the spa gardens of Bad Mergentheim
It was on 13th October 1826, as shepherd Franz Gehrig was grazing his flock near the Tauber, that he noticed that his sheep huddled around seepage in the ground. The shepherd carefully sampled the water – it tasted bitter and salty. Gehrig announced his discovery to Kober the mayor at the town hall. They visited the spring on the same day with town councillors and the district authority doctor Christian Friedrich Bauer. They informed the district authority and initiated the first tests. The test showed that the water was comparable to the already famous Kissinger water.

The first Mergentheim spa season began on 23rd June 1829. From the most humble of beginnings the spa business developed over time and increasingly shaped the town. On 2nd August 1926, in the centennial year of the discovery of the mineral springs, the town was given the title “Bad”, and from then on its official name has been “Bad Mergentheim”. The outbreak of World War II represented a major setback for the spa business. Bad Mergentheim became a military hospital town,but the town was also grateful for this as it meant that they were almost completely spared from shelling and air attacks from the heavy fighting in the Tauber Valley.

In the following years, the spa town reported a sustained improvement and a steady increase in the number of spa guests. The peak was reached in 1972 with around 1.4 million over-night stays in 6,000 beds.Due to a general recession, this peak was followed by a fall in the number of guests and overnight stays. Although the general conditions have worsened since then due to further legislative restrictions (health reforms), the spa town was still able to reach a lots of overnight stays. Bad Mergentheim is still one of the largest spa towns in Baden-Württemberg.