Spa City of Superb Springs
Karlovy Vary is famous for its exceptional natural resources, namely for its thermal mineral springs. There are 13 springs in total and their composition is very similar. They only differ in their temperature and CO2 content. In general, the colder springs have a purgative effect, while the warmer springs slow down the digestive process.
Thanks to their singular composition, they act as an effective natural remedy, which is particularly helpful in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The essential part of the Karlovy Vary spa treatment is the drinking cure, consisting in the drinking of mineral waters prescribed by the spa physician based on a medical examination.
At the St. Joseph Royal Regent, we utilise the local mineral water also for baths and other spa procedures. The daily consumption of mineral water amounts to about 20 cubic metres and it is largely used for thermal baths, carbon and peat baths, gum irrigation, etc.
History of Karlovy Vary Spa Treatment
The valley where the thermal springs flowed into the Ohře River was rocky and narrow. In the early 13th century, the local inhabitants used to come here to quarry the strange rock that had been depositing in the vicinity of the springs since time immemorial. They burnt the rock in kilns to make lime as it was considered a precious material for building stone structures.
Early 15th Century
Karlovy Vary developed into an open spa town without any fortification. Its special status is evidenced by the privilege requiring the observance of peace and quiet and prohibiting the carrying of weapons in town. From the beginning of the 15th century, the development of the town became closely associated with balneology and its reputation reached across borders as early as in the 1450s.
Until 1522, the thermal springs had been only used for baths. The ancient bathing cure required the patients to bathe in the warm mineral water for up to 12 hours a day. The physicians believed that the skin had to be disrupted to allow the elimination of harmful substances from the body.
In the 17th century, the drinking cure gradually outweighed the bathing cure. Nonetheless, it often led to extremes when some people drank as much as 50 or 70 cups of mineral water per day in the 1750s. Although Karlovy Vary was not as important as the neighboring towns of Loket or Ostrov in the 17th century, it experienced a rapid boom from the 1650s.
An act of utmost significance is undoubtedly the privilege bestowed upon the town of Karlovy Vary by Emperor Charles VI in 1718, which prohibited the dispatch (i.e. export) of the local mineral water outside the town borders. It resulted in an upsurge of visitors who started coming to the spa to take the cure, many of them belonging to rich nobility of the highest rank.
A devastating fire swept through the town destroying one third of the built-up area: 224 town houses in total, including the town hall and the town tower. Wooden gutters which had supplied thermal water to private town houses vanished after the fire. Public bathhouses were built instead of new homes.
After having researched the effects of mineral water from Karlovy Vary on his patients, professor Josef Seegen from Vienna demonstrated that its consumption decreased blood sugar levels. As soon as the results of his research had been published in professional journals around the world, physicians began sending their diabetic patients for treatment to Karlovy Vary.
The golden age of balneology in Karlovy Vary brought with it the development of the then modern part of the town, the spirit of which has been partly preserved to this day. The town was connected to the European railway network and the number of spa guests was on the rise.
World War I saw the decline in the number of visitors and brought the heyday of the spa town to a halt. It also marked the end of the “good old times” associated with the spirit of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Karlovy Vary never managed to achieve the pre-war visitor rate.
In October 1938, following the Munich Agreement and the visit of Adolf Hitler at the Hot Spring, Karlovy Vary was occupied by the Wehrmacht and attached to the Third Reich as a part of the Sudetenland. The town endured three air raids towards the end of World War II.
The year 1989 marked the beginning of a new promising era of the unrestrained development of the spa industry, tourism, culture and free enterprise in the valley of the Hot Spring at the confluence of the Teplá and Ohře rivers. Since then, the number of visitors has been growing once again and many tourists have been coming from the West.
Since 2010, the St. Joseph Royal Regent has been continuing in the long spa tradition by offering to its guests a wide choice of above-standard services in the first class superior category, in a quite fresh and untypical form for Karlovy Vary.
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.