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A favorite summer pastime – Germany and its open-air swimming pools

Summer has finally come and as temperatures rise, crowds of people seek refreshment and recreation in public swimming pools. Outdoor swimming pools have been a favorite pastime and place to go in Germany for more than a century and remain to be indispensable until today. Starting with industrialization, from the 19th century onwards, bathing in baths experienced a boom. Working people were expected to wash regularly for reasons of hygiene and to prevent the transmission of diseases. Public baths were established and became the forerunners of today's swimming pools.

Since their beginnings, public swimming pools were widely spread all over the country and heavily subsidized by the government.  The pools rank as part of Germany’s leisure culture, such as museums and parks and should thus be accessible and affordable for all. Over the years this led to extremely high costs and deficits which in turn, among others, led to the closing of many swimming pools. Nevertheless, there are still more than 6000 public swimming pools in Germany. Almost every medium-sized town has its own swimming pool and most of them have their own special charm and characteristic. Typical for (almost) all pools are the large sunbathing areas and lawns, kids’ playgrounds, sports facilities, and small restaurants that usually sell ice cream, French Fries and other small snacks.

If you plan to spend time in Germany during the summer months, a visit to a swimming pool is almost obligatory and always worth its time. Let us introduce you to a few swimming pools in our FGvW locations.

If you happen to come through Freiburg, you could go for a swim in Germany’s oldest open-air swimming pool! The Lorettobad started its first bathing season in the summer of 1842. Initially, it was purely a men’s bath and women were denied access. In 1886, a separate ladies' pool was established which exists until today. This attracts different groups of women who enjoy bathing among themselves without male observation. A few years ago, the clash of veiled Muslim women and long-time Freiburg residents led to such unrest that the swimming pool received attention in the press and even a film was made based on the events.

The Brentano Bad in Frankfurt, another city with FGvW offices, is Germany’s (allegedly even Europe’s) largest swimming pool. It has a length of 220 meters and is 50 meters wide.

Some of Berlin’s pools are famous for their special architecture. For example, the Strandbad Wannsee features architecture from the 1920s and 30s. It has large terraces and long walkways. The architects’ intention was to create infrastructures that reflected the new democratic society where people wanted to see and be seen, which was considered immoral a few years earlier.

Just outside the big city of Cologne lies the Waldbad Dünnwald, idyllically located in the forest. In the past (maybe still?), young people liked to climb over the fence here at night for a forbidden nightly swim.

Of course, Freiburg, Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt have many more locations and possibilities for a swim, a chat and some fries and ice cream, so find out for yourself which is your favorite!


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