Blog image

21 Jun

For Altair Travel customers only! Altair Travel has its own special deals for Karlovy Vary health resorts. Don't miss this unique opportunity to improve your health and visit Europe!

Karlovy Vary (also known as Karlsbad, its German name or Carlsbad, its English name) is a spa city situated in western Bohemia, in the western Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Oh?e and Teplá, approximately 130km (80.78 miles) west of Prague.

Karlovy Vary, meaning "Charles' Bath" was named after Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who founded the city in 1370. It is historically famous for its hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River).

Karlovy Vary is also well known for its colorful and whimsical architecture. For these reasons, it was a popular tourist destination in the 18th century with guests including Tsar Peter the Great, Emperor Franz Josef I, Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Tolstoy, and Marx. Tourism grounded to a halt during World War I and the city never regained its former glory. After WWII, the largely German speaking city was cleared of its original inhabitants and replaced with Czech settlers. Czech remains the major language today but the signs of German culture and heritage are still very evident.

In the 19th century, it became a popular tourist destination, especially for international celebrities visiting for spa treatment. The city is also known for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the popular Czech liqueur Karlovarská Becherovka. The glass manufacturer Moser Glass is located in Karlovy Vary. The city has also given its name to the famous delicacy known as "Carlsbad plums". These plums are candied in hot syrup, then halved and stuffed into dried damsons; this gives them a very intense flavour.

The city has been used as the location for a number of film-shoots, including the 2006 films Last Holiday and box-office hit Casino Royale, both of which used the city's Grandhotel Pupp in different guises.

Mineral Springs are naturally occurring springs that produce water containing minerals, or other dissolved substances, that alter its taste or give it a purported therapeutic value. Salts, sulfur compounds, and gases are among the substances that can be dissolved in the spring water during its passage underground.

Mineral water obtained from mineral springs has long been an important commercial proposition. Mineral spas are resorts that have developed around mineral springs, where (often wealthy) patrons would repair to "take the waters" - meaning that they would drink or bathe in the mineral water. Historical mineral springs were often outfitted with elaborate stone-works - including artificial pools, retaining walls, colonnades and roofs - sometimes in the form of fanciful "Greek temples", gazebos or pagodas. Others were entirely enclosed within spring houses.

For many centuries, in Europe, commercial proponents of mineral springs classified them according to the chemical composition of the water produced and according to the medicinal benefits supposedly accruing from each:

  • Lithia springs contained lithium salts

  • Chalybeate springs contained salts of iron

  • Alum springs contained alum.

  • Sulfur springs contained hydrogen sulfide gas.

  • Salt (saline) springs contained salts of calcium, magnesium or sodium.

  • Alkaline springs contained an alkali.

  • Calcic springs contained lime (calcium hydroxide).

  • Thermal (hot) springs could contain a high concentration of various minerals.

  • Soda springs contained carbon dioxide gas (soda water).

  • Radioactive springs contain traces of radioactive substances such as radium or uranium.

Karlovy Vary Springs

Karlovy Vary has 13 major springs - you can get a list and descriptions at the Infocentrum. The Mill Colonnade covers five of them, ranging in temperature and history:

  • Mill Spring, 56 °C (133°F), used for therapeutic purposes since the 16th century, was historically one of the more popular springs, and its waters were at one time sold at stores in the region. The spring was named after an old mill which used to stand in the area.

  • Rock Spring, 53 °C (127°F), originally rose next to the nearby Tepla River; in 1845 the spring was diverted to the current location of the Mill Colonnade.

  • Libuše Spring, 62 °C (144°F), is a merger of four smaller springs, and was originally named the "Spring of Elizabeth's Roses".

  • Nymph Spring, 60 °C (140°F), was known prior to 1945 as the "New Spring" and had its own colonnade before the Mill Colonnade replaced it.

  • Prince Václav I Spring, 65°C (149°F), was originally one of the strongest springs in the area in both yield and force, and was used to produce curative salt. A second spring, Prince Václav II Spring, 58°C (136°F), comes from the same source and flows out several meters in front of the Mill Colonnade.

Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids, warm and especially hot springs also often have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium. Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value some of these springs have, they are often popular tourist destinations, and locations for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities.

Mill Colonnade

One of the traditional symbols of Karlovy Vary, the Mill Colonnade is a large colonnade containing several hot springs. The Neo-Renaissance structure has a nave, two aisles and measures 132m (433ft) long by 13m (43ft) wide. There are 124 Corinthian columns. Twelve statues representing the twelve months of the year sit above the portico. There is a raised orchestra space for the spa orchestra which plays regular, free concerts.

What to see in Karlovy Vary

  • Rock Spring - Skalni Pramen - spurts 1.3 liters of water per minute.

  • Geyser Collonade - Vridlo. 6am-7pm. Spring that spurts 2000 liters of water per minute in a 14m jet. Free.

  • Lazne III. Beautiful spa building.

  • Lazne I. Beautiful spa building housing Franz Josef's baths.

  • Diana Lookout Tower. You can take the funicular railway or take a beautiful walk throuh the forest to get here. The funicular costs 36Kc, 60Kc return. Free.

  • Karl Marx Monument.

  • Church of St. Peter & St. Paul. Built in 1897. 5 golden domes and colorful exterior were modeled on the Byzantine Church of the Holy Trinity near Moscow. The interior of the church is decorated with paintings and icons, gifts of wealthy Russian aristocrats. One of the decorations is a relief representing Russian Tsar "Peter the Great".

  • Church of St. Lucas - Anglican church.

  • Karlovy Vary Museum, Nova Louka 23. 9am-12pm & 1pm-5pm Wed-Sun. Local history. Adult: 30Kc; Child: 15Kc.

  • Jan Becher Museum, Masaryka 57. 9am-5pm. Dedicated to the local inventor of Becherovka. Adult: 100Kc; Child: 50Kc.

Becherovka is an herbal bitters made in Karlovy Vary by Jan Becher. A bitters is an alcoholic beverage that is flavored with herbal essences and has a bitter or bittersweet flavour. There are numerous brands of bitters that were formerly marketed as patent medicines but are now considered to be digestive, rather than medicines. They commonly have an alcoholic strength of 45% ABV and are used as digestives and as flavoring in cocktails. Angelica root (A. archangelica), artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus), bitter orange peel (Citrus aurantium), blessed thistle leaves (Cnicus bendicutus), gentian root (Gentiana lutea), goldenseal rhizome (Hydrastis canadensis), wormwood leaves (Artemisia absinthium) and yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium) are typical contents of bitters formulas. Bitters are prepared by infusion or distillation, using aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit for their flavor and medicinal properties. Digestive bitters are typically consumed either neat (unadulterated) or with ice at the end of a meal in many European and South American countries.

For Altair Travel customers only! Altair Travel has its own special deals for Karlovy Vary health resorts. Don't miss this unique opportunity to improve your health and visit Europe!

For reservation and information please contact Altair Travel:

Altair Travel