Bad Ems is a small Kurort in North-East Rhineland-Palatinate whose main claim to fame and indeed paragraph in world history is being the site of the "Ems Dispatch", a telegram that played an important part in the outbreak of the 1870 Franco-Prussian war and thus the foundation of modern Germany, indirectly leading to World War I and subsequently World War II.
Apparently the Roman Empire maintained a small military garrison in this town of which nothing remains, however. The extant settlement is first mentioned in 880 CE but was likely settled by the Franks in the 6th century CE already.
It gained the privilege to call itself "city" in 1324. Subsequently the town became an important Kurort which could be translated as "spa". Basically a "Kur" is a rather uniquely German thing where a person plagued by various real or supposed illnesses goes to a place whose air, water or both is reputed to be a cure of said ailments, returning in best health or at least somewhat rejuvenated. To this day German health insurers often pay for (part of) the costs of such treatments when medically indicated. During the heyday of Bad Ems a Kur was however largely a preserve of the rich and the famous and indeed it was during a Kur of Prussian King Wilhelm (soon to be German Emperor Wilhelm I) that this town earned itself its place in European and perhaps world history. Ems, which gained the title "Bad" (literally "bath" but could be translated as "spa-town") in 1913 remained a favorite hangout for the rich and the famous and people like Czar Nicholas I of Russia, the aforementioned Wilhelm I of Germany, Czar Alexander II of Russia, composer Richard Wagner, writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and artist Vasily Vereshchagin spent time here.
Bad Ems stationQuite a beautiful (and heritage listed) station despite the small size of the town, built in the 19th century for the various Kurgäste to arrive in style.
The town is small and should be walkable, except for some hills that are a bit on the steep side. Thankfully there is the to get you up one of those hills.
Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral
BismarckturmLike many, many towns in Germany—most of them with only tenuous connections to the statesman—Bad Ems has its very own "Bismarck Tower". This one opened in 1901. It is some tall, but cannot be climbed, as the stairs inside it were removed. It is still a somewhat interesting architectural feature, and unlike in other towns, Bad Ems can actually claim a (telegraphic) link to Bismarck
Emser ThermeA public bath opened in December 2012