The spa town of Bad Ragaz has a long and rich history. It is nestled at the foot of the Pizol on the sunny side of the Rhine valley, and what appears to be a mere stones' throw from the constitutional monarchy of Liechtenstein.
Its history is reflected in the majestic Grand Hotel Quellenhof, a luxury estate that has housed wealthy visitors from around the globe. The location of the hotel in the very vicinity of the steep cliffs comes to no surprise: It is the healing properties of the hot spring water from deep inside the mountain range which have drawn people there for centuries.
On the trail of the Romans
On a sunny fall day, we mounted our hiking boots as we decided to follow the gushing Tamina river to its source. In order to get some more exercise and enjoy the scenic views from above Bad Ragaz, we extended our hike along the Porta Romana, an ancient Roman trail. It led us up to the vineyards and down through the steep, forestry slopes into the Tamina valley.
Hiking from Bad Ragaz straight to the Tamina Gorge
Those who prefer to reach the gorge at Bad Pfäfers on the fast track can trace the river on a convenient path from the Bad Ragaz station. The hike takes one hour, and the closer you get to the gorge, the higher the cliffs will tower over you on the left and on the right...
And what else can you expect of Switzerland? Thanks to a seamless public transportation connection, yellow postal #453 bus will carefully master the narrow winding road to the end of the valley about once per hour.
Altes Bad Pfäfers
As far back as the 13th century, the weak and the sick would be brought to the very location of today's Alte Bad Pfäfers where the virgin waters of the Tamina river exit from the rock.
The 36.5 degree warm, mineral rich H2O was said to have extensive healing properties, so no efforts were too great to expose patients to it. As there was no other way to access these age old waters, they would be secured with ropes and slowly lowered in the narrow river!
At Bad Pfäfers, a narrow path leads adventurous visitors inside the mountain. The powerfully gushing Tamina river is exceptionally loud, and it left a lasting impression on me. The fine mist was a welcome change to the hot temperatures during the hike.
Located what appeared to be several dozen meters inside the solid rock is a water fountain: Thirsty mouths can be stilled and empty bottles filled! So do not forget to bring a water bottle: I bet the millions of years old Tamina water will be the oldest souvenir you have ever had!
And for those cloudy or rainy days when hiking in an ever narrower valley sounds too depressing, we can recommend a visit to the public spa in Bad Ragaz: The Tamina Therme.
- Directions to Bad Ragaz Bahnhof
- Hiking map from Bad Ragaz to Altes Bad Pfäfers (Recommended: May through October)