Bad Nauheim's local mountain rises 268 m above sea level. Because of its exceptional location, the Johannisberg was a place of worship for pagan, Celtic and Germanic customs long before Christianity. Finds attest to settlement as early as the Stone and Bronze Ages. A mission church is said to have been built here as early as 779. St. John's Church, as a baptistery and mother church, became the original parish of the entire northern Wetterau. During the Reformation, however, the church was abandoned and quickly fell into disrepair. Only the church tower remained in its foundation walls and, in 1866, was converted into a lookout tower. The tower has housed the public observatory since 1965.
Just a few steps from the observatory, you can see the remains of a Roman signal tower from the 2nd century, part of the Limes UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the best-preserved signal tower along the Limes.
Thanks to the efforts of the “Freundeskreis Weinanbau Johannisberg” (Friends of the Johannisberg Vineyards), vines are once again growing on the Johannisberg after an absence of 100 years. At the end of the 19th century, “Johannisberger” – the wine from the Bad Nauheim vineyard – was known as a “good drop”. The sunny slope is also popularly known as “Nice” after the French city. Wine is said to have been cultivated here more than 600 years ago. The vines disappeared around 1900 because the town, which owned the estate, lost interest in the labour-intensive viticulture. The red roof of the Johannisberg Café Restaurant can be seen from afar in the town. Empress Sisi already appreciated this traditional restaurant, and took lunch here every day during her stay at the spa.