Thermal springs and natural beauty are the main reasons Bad Ems, first discovered by the Romans, has maintained its renown throughout its long history. The town’s development as a prosperous spa can be seen in its very well-preserved buildings dating from the late 17th century, a period when the local spa industry saw its greatest expansion. The most significant buildings from this period are the Kurhaus (spa dům), two large guesthouses called Mainzer Haus and Zu den vier Türmen, and the Maria Königin Chapel. The town’s dominant style is from the 19th-century, a time when Bad Ems was one of the most significant spa towns in Germany. On Römerstraße, a street running parallel to the right bank of the River Lahn, buildings have survived from the days of the Nassau Dukedom - these including the prominent Kursaalgebäude and the Kurmittelhaus.
The townscape of today’s Bad Ems is characterized by grand villas situated in the Wilhelmsallee and the promenade on the river’s left bank. Well-preserved buildings such as the Balmoral Chateau, Villa Monrepos and many others have their own spa facilities as well as other amenities that were very important for the local spa industry. The Malbergbahn cable car was built purely for leisure and recreation purposes in the 19th century.
For centuries, this idyllic place set in a meander of the River Lahn has attracted artists, regularly hosted kings and emperors and was the backdrop for the famous Ems Dispatch that ignited the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.