The recognized Kneipp resort is Hesse’s oldest and Germany’s third oldest. In the outlying centre of Oberselters is found a mineral spring that gives forth the well known Selterswasser, often known in English as “seltzer”. The town’s landmark is the Kreuzkapelle (“Cross Chapel”).
The town’s elevation is 209 m. The Limburg-Weilburg district’s highest elevation, the Kuhbett (“Cow’s Bed”; 526 m), lies within the limits of the outlying centre of Erbach on the boundary with the community of Weilrod in the Hochtaunuskreis. The greatest elevation in the central community – also called Bad Camberg – is the Kapellenhügel (“Chapel Hill”), which is somewhat more than 300 m high.
|Stadtteil||Population||Area|| Wooded |
|in %||Pop. density|
|Bad Camberg (main town)||6,903||19.91||10.89||54.7||346.7|
To the Linear Pottery culture from the New Stone Age (5000-3000 BC), which draws its name from the ceramics that it produced, belong the oldest archaeological finds in the Camberg area. While most groups at that time were hunter-gatherers, the Linear Pottery people were already producing their own food by raising crops (among others emmer and einkorn wheats) and livestock, the latter being mainly sheep, swine, goats and above all cattle; this covered up to 90% of the people’s meat requirements.
It is known how these cultures built houses. The houses were mostly 20 to 25 m long and 5 to 7 m wide, consisting of five rows of posts, the three inner ones bearing the roof’s weight, and the two outer ones the wattle-and-daub walls’. These houses served to house people, supplies and animals, and they were always oriented in a certain direction (northwest-southeast or north-south). Within the settlements, irregular pits are encountered that, when houses were being built, were used as the houses’ excavations. They were then filled more and more with rubbish such as charcoal, animal bones, ashes, stones and potsherds. In a few built-up areas in the town’s main centre, the streets have cut across several garbage pits. When opening up new cropfields, the farmers preferred loess.
Legend has it that after Epiphany in 1357, all the Camberg townsfolk were drunk and asleep when robber knights from Walsdorf came to try to rob the town. The town wall had not yet been finished and the knights therefore only needed to cross a hedge. However, there lived some magpies, who noticed the attempted robbery and gave out an alarm call, waking the townsfolk up, who then fended the attack off, putting the Walsdorf knights to flight. To this day, the magpie is still regarded as the town’s “unofficial heraldic bird”.
From 1535 to 1794, the Amt of Camberg was in force, to which all current constituent communities belonged under the common administration of the House of Nassau and by the Electorate of Trier. After a short French occupation, the town was, as of 1806, part of the Duchy of Nassau. In 1866 it passed to Prussia. Since 1945, the town has been part of the German Federal state of Hesse.
In 1630 and again in 1659, great witch trials took place. Thirteen women and one man were found guilty and five women were put to death; one also died in custody. The others were released, often after having been tortured.
In 1810, Baron Hugo von Schütz zu Holzhausen, himself born deaf, was first teaching deaf students in rooms at the Amthof, making him a pioneer in this field in Germany. In the years that followed, a scholastic institution grew out of these classes and in 1820 the “Ducal Nassau Deaf-Mute Institute”. Until 1875 it was housed in a side building of the Guttenberger Hof in the Old Town. As of 1894, however, the school had its own building which was built on a plot of land on Frankfurter Straße donated by the town of Camberg. Under the name Freiherr-von-Schütz-Schule, it is still found there today.
In 1861, Moritz Lieber founded a hospital, the Lieber'sches Hospital, on Gisbert-Lieber-Straße. It was dissolved in 1959. Today, the Freiherr-von-Schütz-Schule uses the building.
In January 1971, the district of Limburg once again suggested the small solution. All the current constituent communities but Oberselters were to form the new Town of Camberg. Also brought into question, however, was whether Oberselters, Hasselbach, Walsdorf and Steinfischbach might be amalgamated with the Town of Camberg. The Oberselters community representatives favoured amalgamation, if it had to happen, with Camberg, whereas Hasselbach inclined towards Weilrod. Walsdorf’s and Steinfischbach’s people had voted for Idstein and Waldems respectively so that the planned merger at the time agreed with the current town limits. The communities of Camberg, Erbach, Schwickershausen and Oberselters backed this merger, whereas Dombach first wanted to “wait and see”, and Würges wanted no voluntary amalgamation. The Bundesland of Hesse named 31 December 1971 as the latest possible deadline for voluntary amalgamation.
On 9 November 1971 came the signing of a boundary-changing agreement among today’s five Camberg constituent communities other than Würges along with Eisenbach and Haintchen to found the new Town of Camberg. This agreement, however, was not recognized by the Hesse government, which demanded that Eisenbach, Haintchen and Oberselters be amalgamated with the community of Niederselters and suggested uniting Camberg with Erbach, Schwickershausen and Dombach. The communities complained before the Hessian Administrative Court (Hessischer Verwaltungsgerichtshof) to get it to uphold the merger of Oberselters, Eisenbach and Haintchen at 1 January 1972 anyway. The government was obliged to allow the amalgamation, but it wanted to revise the plan. There was, however, no actual hearing before the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgerichtshof) in Kassel and the appellate proceedings were suspended in May 1975.
On 1 July 1974, Camberg, Würges, Erbach, Schwickershausen and Dombach were forcibly merged. The community of Oberselters joined.
In 1802, Nassau-Weilburg took over the Electorate of Trier half. In 1806 arose, out of Orange-Nassau, Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilburg, the Duchy of Nassau, thereby ending the town’s manifold overlordships. In 1816, the Amt of Camberg was made part of the Amt of Idstein. In 1866 Nassau passed to Prussia, in which it belonged to the province of Hesse-Nassau, the Regierungsbezirk of Wiesbaden and the district of Untertaunuskreis. In 1886 Camberg became part of the new Limburg district. In 1945, the town was assigned to the United States Occupation Zone and thereby to Hesse. The town belonged then to the Regierungsbezirk of Wiesbaden until this was abolished in 1968, whereupon Camberg became part of the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt. In 1981, it became part of the Regierungsbezirk of Gießen. Camberg became part of Limburg-Weilburg district in 1974.
All Camberg’s centres are mostly Catholic. There are six Catholic parishes that have merged into the Bad Camberg pastoral area: St. Peter und Paul in Camberg, St. Mauritius in Erbach, St. Ferrutius in Würges, St. Antonius in Oberselters, St. Georg in Schwickershausen and St. Wendelin in Dombach. To the parish of St. Peter und Paul belong 3,600 Catholics, and thereby two thirds of the townsfolk. Saint Martin’s Evangelical Church (Martinskirche) has been in Camberg since 1890.
|Bad Camberg (main town)||2,575||4,956||5,247||5,586||6,515||6,800||6,903|
|Mayor||Time in office||Party|
|Candidate||Party||13 June 2004||27 June 2004||20 February 2005|
|Centre||Eligible voters||Valid votes||W. Erk||H. Theuerkauf|
|Parties and voter communities|| %|
|CDU||Christian Democratic Union of Germany||47.1||17||47.9||18|
|SPD||Social Democratic Party of Germany||42.8||16||40.3||15|
|GRÜNE||Bündnis 90/Die Grünen||7.0||3||8.4||3|
|FDP||Free Democratic Party||3.0||1||3.4||1|
|Voter turnout in %||48.2||54.5|
The next municipal election will be held in 2011.
On 9 January 1991 the town friendship agreement between Bad Sulza and Bad Camberg was ceremonially signed.
The Kreuzkapelle is the town’s landmark. Today’s chapel was built east of the town on a mountain in 1725 and can be seen from far away.
In the Old Town quite a number of timber-frame houses are still to be found, some very elaborately decorated. The houses were mostly built between the 15th and 18th century. Many houses are grouped around the marketplace, which was a trading station on the High Road (Hohe Straße) from Cologne to Frankfurt.
The town’s most popular sightseeing spot is the row of timber-frame houses that together make up the Amthof, the seat of the long defunct Amt. It stretches over a frontage of 155 m, making it one of Hesse’s biggest timber-frame structures. The representative building was built in 1605 on a former building’s foundations. In the years that followed, up until 1669, it was further expanded and the three formerly separate buildings were melded into one great structure.
The Amthof was seat and home to the Oberamtmänner (high Amt officials) of the Amt of Camberg in the Electorate of Trier. Once the Amt was dissolved in 1815, it lost its importance. In 1942 the town acquired the Amthof and had it thoroughly restored in 1989. Today it is the town administration’s seat.
Another important timber-frame building is the old Amt apothecary’s shop, whose foundations go back to 1330, and which was newly built in 1492 as a Burgmannenhaus for the Hattsteins. From 1663 the house harboured an apothecary’s shop. Today’s Guttenberger Hof was first mentioned in 1336 as the family von Hattstein’s seat. It was overhauled and built into its current form in 1526. In 1767 ownership passed to the family von Guttenberg and in 1820 to common (that is to say, not noble) ownership. As of October 2007, the Guttenberger Hof is being restored.
Of the town’s old fortifications, only remnants are left. The Obertorturm (32 m tall, built about 1380) and the Untertorturm, the town’s two gate towers, are all that is left of the 13 towers that once girded the town.
Abutting the Amthof is the Obertorturm, likewise one of the town’s landmarks, which also appears in the town’s arms. Right next to it stands the Hohenfeldkapelle (chapel). The chapel is decorated with many fixtures from various centuries, among them plaques with grave inscriptions from the von Metternich und Hohenfeld, von Schütz zu Holzhausen, von Bechtolsheim and von Spies-Büllesheim families, who were of importance in the town. Today, the Obertorturm and the Hohenfeldkapelle serve as the Town and Tower Museum. The Untertorturm is known locally as the Schiefer Turm von Bad Camberg (“Leaning Tower of Bad Camberg”), a name that owes itself to a lean of 1.44 m over a height of 21 m. On its base once stood three gates in a row. Its old cupola was destroyed in 1945 as the Second World War neared its end.
Furthermore, the firm HACA Leitern (ladders), known Europe-wide, has its headquarters in Bad Camberg.
Health resort offerings comprise the Hohenfeldklinik (psychosomatic medicine: 160 beds, internal medicine: 120 beds, orthopaedics: 87 beds) as a health clinic, a neurological rehabilitation clinic (150 beds), several sanatoria, the Kur-und Gesundheitszentrum (municipal bathing department with gymnastics for the sick) and several Kneipp water treading pools. In 2005, Bad Camberg recorded 176,663 overnight stays by resort guests. The average stay lasted 8.6 days.
In 1934, the town of Camberg joined the company for preparing the Frankfurt-Cologne Autobahn. This Reichsautobahn (now Bundesautobahn 3/Europastraße 35) was built between 1937 and 1939. In the Goldener Grund, its route roughly follows the old High Road’s.
Bad Camberg is linked to the Autobahn through the like-named interchange. This interchange was not in the original plans but was built later to let the communities in the Goldener Grund share in the transport and economic development. In 1954, the Bad Camberg-Ost service centre was opened on the Cologne-bound side of the Autobahn; a year later followed Bad Camberg-West on the Frankfurt-bound side.
In the 12th century, bit by bit, roads were also built in the valleys. This was due not only to the upswing in goods trading but also to the growing danger on the High Road. Thus came into being the Emstalstraße (“Ems Valley Road”), a part of the old Via Publica between Brussels and Prague.
In 1768, the Electorate of Trier began expanding highways into boulevardlike roads, and so it also was for the road from Limburg to the border between Würges and Walsdorf, which was finished in 1780. This work on the road, which ran by the Untertortum west of what was then town limits, was after two or three years, owing to the great volume of traffic, once again utterly destroyed. Given this, the town proposed to have the road run from Erbach to the Obertorturm, then through the town to the Untertortum and thence on to Würges. The proposal was, however, turned down. Owing to the Electorate of Trier Road-Building Ordinance of 1753, the citizens of the Amt of Camberg were obliged to perform compulsory labour on the road early in the year and in autumn. Wages and material costs for the bridgebuilding were borne by the Electoral Court Chamber (kurfürstliche Hofkammer), while the communities and the Amt were expected to lay on the materials. Only after the Revolution of 1848 was all compulsory labour abolished.
Out of this road developed the Imperial Long-Distance Road (Reichsfernstraße) 8 in the early 20th century, now Bundesstraße 8, which currently runs through Erbach, Bad Camberg and Würges and by Oberselters. For those first three places, a bypass road has been planned for more than thirty years.
Since December 2004, a town bus service has been running in Bad Camberg. There are two routes, LM-31 (railway station-inner town-Erbach) and LM-32 (railway station-inner town-Würges). Each takes a different route from the railway station to the inner town before running to Erbach or Würges.