Karlovy Vary, better known by its German name, Karlsbad, is the most famous Bohemian spa. It was named for the Bohemian king and German and Holy Roman emperor Charles (Karl) IV who allegedly found the springs in 1358 during a hunting expedition.
In the 19th century, royalty came here from all over Europe for treatment. Among the rich and famous who visited Karlsbad are Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Chopin, and even Karl Marx.
The city is located about a 2 hours scenic drive west of Prague. On arrival in Karlovy Vary we take you on a walk along the “Park Colonnade” and the river “Tepla”. There are over 60 mineral springs ranging from 10oC to 73.6oC (50oF – 165oF). 13 of these springs are located along our route and you can sample them all, if you like. Depending on your level of walking ability, we take a hike up the mountain to spectacular views of the city; visit the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church of Peter and Paul, the baroque church of St. Maria Magdalene and more. Have lunch in one of the many restaurants right on the Tepla River.
Balneology and springs
The town of Karlovy Vary is a world-class spa. Various diseases have been treated here with the help of uniquely composed thermal mineral springs for more than 650 years. How did the Karlovy Vary spa treatments actually come about, what do they treat and which springs are actually used for the treatments?
History of Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) balneology
People have apparently attributed the healing powers to the Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) springs long before the town was founded. But the first historically preserved knowledge of treatments comes from the end of the 14th century, when Charles IV bathed his ill legs in one of the mineral water springs.
Since that time and until the 16th century the Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) doctors practiced this type of spa treatment exclusively. The impetus for reflection on the use of spring water for internal use came from Dr. Vaclav Payer in the year 1521. But it was only Dr. David Becher, who brought this method to perfection and who also helped to balance the drinking spa treatments.
The Golden Era of balneology
Spa experienced its ups and downs. The rate of visits was influenced both by natural disasters, as well as armed conflicts. But since the 18th century Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) began to develop rapidly and its standing among other European spas has increased considerably. The first public spa houses and buildings were established. The town was prospering not only because of the wealthy spa patients, but also thanks to the revenue from the sale of mineral water and thermal salt.
Balneology in the hard times
Popularity of Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) continued to grow and the number of visitors was increasing every year until the beginning of the World War I. Then came the global economic crisis, the World War II and eventually the nationalization of private businesses. Whenever the spa began to recover from some sort of “disaster”, then came yet another blow.
Renewal of a tradition
After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the word democracy came back, the dilapidated buildings and spa facilities slowly began to be reconstructed and modernized. Since that time, the spa is again able to compete with other European spa towns.
Indications for the spa therapy
Due to the specific characteristics of the Karlovy Vary mineral springs and the possibility of almost universal use in Karlovy Vary, the patients with various diseases come there for treatments. Among the most frequently treated diseases are:
- gastrointestinal diseases,
- metabolic disorders,
- gynecological problems,
- locomotive system,
- diseases liver,
- gallbladder and biliary tract diseases,
- conditions after oncological diseases,
- neurological disorders and other diseases.
Of the 79 sources with different yields, 13 are used for drinking cures. Mineral waters are similar in their basic composition, but because of different temperatures and carbon dioxide content they have different effects. The colder springs usually have a slightly laxative effect; warmer springs have a calming effect, slowing down the secretion of bile and gastric juices.
Water from the springs can be tasted from the traditional Karlovy Vary cup, which you can keep as a souvenir. The cup can be purchased in any smoke shop or newsstand. However, the prolonged use of mineral water should be always discussed with the spa doctor.
Take a pleasant stroll “in the footsteps of springs”. Start at the Thermal Hotel, walk around the Dvorak Park and continue to the first colonnade…
Detailed information about the colonnade and springs
- The Park Colonnade (1880)
- The Snake Spring 30 °C
- The Park Spring 47,4 °C
- The Freedom Spring 60 °C
- The Mill Colonnade (1871–1881)
- The Rock Spring 53 °C
- The Libuse Spring 62 °C
- The Prince Wenceslas I 65 °C
- The Prince Wenceslas II 58 °C
- The Mill Spring 56 °C
- The Rusalka Spring 60 °C
- The Market Colonnade (1883)
- The Market Spring 62 °C
- The Charles IV Spring 64 °C
- The Hot Spring Colonnade (1969–1975)
- The Hot Spring 72 °C
- The Castle Colonnade (1911-1913)
- The Lower Castle Spring 55 °C
- The Upper Castle Spring 50 °C