Gross Barmen
Gross Barmen is a historic settlement and a recreational spa
The term spa is associated with water treatment which is also known as balneotherapy. Spa towns or spa resorts typically offer various health treatments. The belief in the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times. Such practices have been popular worldwide, but are...

 in central Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

. It is situated on the District Road 1972, 25 km south-east of Okahandja
Okahandja is a town of 14,000 inhabitants in Otjozondjupa Region, central Namibia, and the district capital of the Okahandja electoral constituency. It is known as the Garden Town of Namibia. It is located 70km north of Windhoek on the B1 road...

 in the Otjozondjupa Region. Its close proximity to the capital Windhoek
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level. The 2001 census determined Windhoek's population was 233,529...

 makes it a popular weekend destination for locals.


Originally known as Otjikango (Otjiherero
Herero language
The Herero language is a language of the Bantu family . It is spoken by the Herero people in Namibia and Botswana...

: "large fountain"), the site was inhabited by the Herero people. When Wesleyan missionaries arrived in Windhoek in 1844 at the invitation of Jonker Afrikaner
Jonker Afrikaner
Jonker Afrikaner was the fourth Captain of the Orlam Afrikaners in South West Africa, succeeding his father, Jager Afrikaner, in 1823...

, Rhenish missionaries
Rhenish Missionary Society
The Rhenish Missionary Society was one of the largest missionary societies in Germany. Formed from smaller missions founded as far back as 1799, the Society was amalgamated on 23 September 1828, and its first missionaries were ordained and sent off to South Africa by the end of the year.The...

 Carl Hugo Hahn
Carl Hugo Hahn
Carl Hugo Hahn was a German missionary and linguist who worked in South Africa and South-West Africa for most of his life. Together with Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt he set up the first Rhenish mission station to the Herero people in Gross Barmen...

 and Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt
Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt
Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt was a German missionary and linguist who worked in South-West Africa, today Namibia. He founded the missionary station and town of Rehoboth and together with Carl Hugo Hahn set up the first Rhenish mission station to the Herero people in Gross Barmen...

, already resident there since 1842, feared conflict and moved on to Otjikango. Here they established the first Rhenish mission station to the Herero in late 1844. They named the place Barmen after the town Barmen (today part of Wuppertal
Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in and around the Wupper river valley, and is situated east of the city of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr area. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land...

) in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 where the headquarters of the Rhenish Missionary Society were located. The ruins of the missionary house are still visible.

At that time the road network in South-West Africa was being developed under the supervision, and at the initiative, of Jonker Afrikaner. Hahn and Kleinschmidt initiated the creation of a path from Windhoek to Barmen via Okahandja, and in 1850 this road, later known as Alter Baiweg (Old Bay Path), was extended via Otjimbingwe
Otjimbingwe is a settlement in the Erongo Region of central Namibia. It has approximately 8000 inhabitants.The Rhenish Mission Society used Otjimbingwe as a central location for their Namibian mission in 1849. Johannes Rath and his family settled in the area on 11 July that year, and the settlement...

 to Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...

. This route developed into an important trade connection between the coast and Windhoek and was in use until 1900, when the railway line from Swakopmund
Swakopmund is a city on the coast of northwestern Namibia, west of Windhoek, Namibia's capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January so the territorial administration moves to Swakopmund for these months...

 was commissioned.

The mission station was operational until the start of Herero War
Herero and Namaqua Genocide
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa , during the scramble for Africa...

 in 1904. The settlement also had a police station at that time.

Hot springs

The recreational centre at Gross Barmen was built in 1977. The water of the hot spring
Hot spring
A hot spring is a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust. There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth.-Definitions:...

 comes from a depth of 2,500 m. It exits the ground at 65°C and is cooled down to around 40°C for the thermal bath.

Gross Barmen is managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), the company responsible for all national parks and official recreational areas in Namibia. Besides the thermal bath it featured a petrol station, a restaurant, and overnight accommodation until 2010 but became the biggest loss maker of NWR. It is now in a period of reconstruction and expansion and is scheduled to be reopened in 2013.
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