Story of a Spa City & Colonnades

City & Spa Colonnades

Karlovy Vary is a world-renowned spa with a tradition dating back almost seven centuries. The town was founded by Bohemian king and Roman Emperor Charles IV. The city’s busy streets and colonnades are surrounded by tranquil woody hills interwoven with a network of tourist and cycle paths. The Karlovy Vary spa treatment is based on its unique curative resources – thermal mineral springs.

smaller springs

main springs

colonnades

Spa Colonnades

With their characteristic long colonnades, these remarkable structures are an inherent symbol of Karlovy Vary and are the reason for why it is often dubbed the “City of Colonnades”.

They were built to cover the effluents of the curative springs and to allow the spa guests to drink the beneficial mineral water regardless of the weather, directly at the source and while strolling to maximise the effect of the drinking cure. From the very beginning, strolls on the colonnades have been considered a prestigious social event.

The charm of the spa colonnades has been preserved to our time when visitors from all over the world come to Karlovy Vary to enjoy its curative springs and to admire its genius loci. There are 5 spa colonnades in the city and each of them has a very distinct story to tell. The Market Colonnade, for example, was originally built to stand for not more than 5 years. In 2003, however, it celebrated its centenary anniversary. The oldest Mill Colonnade built in 1871 was criticised by many after its completion for resembling a carrot bed. Today, it is one of the most remarkable landmarks in Karlovy Vary!

History of Karlovy Vary

Foundation

Although no foundation deed exists, historical facts clearly indicate that Karlovy Vary was founded in 1349. The hot springs on the territory of present-day Karlovy Vary have been known to people since primeval ages. Before the foundation of the spa town in 1349, a settlement named Obora had existed in the nearby woods with the Romanesque Church of Saint Linhart.
Legend has it that the curative springs were discovered by King Charles IV during a deer hunt. The king ordered the foundation of a spa at the springs and bestowed royal town rights upon it in 1370. It is said that the villagers from Obora were the first inhabitants who resettled here upon the king’s order.

Middle Ages

The medieval beginnings of the renowned Karlovy Vary spa treatment mostly involved long bathing in warm water. People were afraid to the drink the water because they feared it might change into stone in their stomachs, similar to the stone sediments which they saw around the springs. It was believed then that the baths rid the body of various ailments, particularly of locomotive disorders and digestive tract diseases.
The drinking cure was introduced after 1522 thanks to the efforts of local physician Wenzel Payer and later Johann Stephan Strobelberger. After 1760, it was further improved by Dr. David Becher, the founder of modern balneological treatment methods.

Hot Spring

The thermal mineral spring known as Vřídlo (Hot Spring) is a true natural wonder and the only of its kind on the European continent. The nearest hot springs of volcanic origin with similar properties may be found only in Iceland. The Karlovy Vary Hot Spring has a temperature of 73 degrees Celsius, it rises from a depth of almost 3 kilometres, and it yields 2,000 litres per minute.

Ffamous Spa Guests

The very first and probably the most famous guest of Karlovy Vary was its founder Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Roman Emperor. He stayed at the Hot Spring three times and his visits triggered an inflow of spa guests who have been coming in millions to Karlovy Vary over the past seven centuries.
If we were to compile an imaginary hitparade of the most popular visitors to Karlovy Vary, number one would most certainly be German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He literally fell in love with Karlovy Vary and its surroundings and he allegedly said that he would wish to and could only live in Rome, Weimar, or in Karlovy Vary.
Without question, the second most popular guest was the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. Although he came to Karlovy Vary only twice in 1711 and 1712, stories about the famed deeds of the Russian sovereign during his stays are told to this day.

Are you already staying in Karlovy Vary?

Karlovy Vary has a lot to offer and thanks to modern technology, you can get to know it more closely on pleasant walks around the spa town. We recommend downloading the very handy Karlovy Vary App for iOs and Android.

The Karlovy Vary App is a mobile tourist guidebook, in which you will find a lot of interesting information about the city and its historical sights. The app includes an interactive map with many places of interest in and around Karlovy Vary (springs, colonnades, lookout towers, churches, etc.) and tips for trips in the surroundings.

App for iOS

Karlovy Vary App for iPhones and iPads (free, size 20 MB)

App for Android

Karlovy Vary App for Google Android mobile phones and tablets (free, size 17 MB)

Which comfort suits you?

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