Karlovy Vary: Jewel of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle
The incarnation of spa elegance, imposing colonnades, exclusive spa buildings and a wonderful layout in the heart of a forested valley. That is Karlovy Vary. The best known town in the world renowned West Bohemian Spa Triangle, in which some of the most famous figures in European artistic and cultural life have enjoyed treatment, is today the second most visited spot in the Czech Republic. Thanks to its unique architecture, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful spas.
Legend has it that Karlovy Vary was founded by the Czech king and holy Roman emperor Charles IV in the 14th century. It is said that the ruler discovered a unique spring here while out hunting deer. Over the centuries a spa town has developed here whose fame has surpassed the borders of Bohemia, with Karlovy Vary becoming synonymous with charm and social standing. It has welcomed such figures as Goethe, Beethoven, Gogol, Paganini, Casanova, and Mozart, along with dozens of heads of state, while in recent times it has hosted many movie stars thanks to its film festival, which is one of Europe’s most important.
Go swimming above the town!
Karlovy Vary’s greatest wealth is its 13 hot mineral springs, which are used to treat illnesses affecting the digestive system and metabolism disorders, along with problems linked to cancers and the motor apparatus. Accommodation is available at dozens of wonderful spa buildings, villas and complexes that offer top class services linked to traditional spa treatments, as well as first-rate modern wellness procedures. Its best known hotels are the Grand Hotel Pupp, commonly regarded as one of the best in the world, Hotel Imperial, and Hotel Thermal, whose large outdoor swimming pool offers a breathtaking view of the entire town.
Don’t forget the porcelain or the excellent liqueur
You will experience a genuine spa atmosphere on pleasant walks through its enchanting historical core, which follows the Teplá stream. You can fill a spa jug from several of the local healing springs and stroll in the shadows of elegant colonnades, such as the Mlýnská and Tržní Colonnades. Make sure to see the magnificent theatre, Císařské lázně and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. The hottest of the springs – the Vřídlo – emerges from the ground nearby. But watch out! The water has an incredible temperature of 72oC! You can make your day in the fairytale town even more pleasant by visiting one of Karlovy Vary’s lookout spots. For instance, a cable car will carry you comfortably to the Diana Tower, from which the town feels like it’s in the palm of your hand. And what kind of trip to Karlovy Vary would it be if you didn’t take home some local wares?! The best known include the products of the world famous Moser glassworks, Thun Karlovy Vary porcelain, or the excellent Becherovka herbal liqueur, which is often dubbed the town’s 13th spring. You also need to taste the spa wafers, which come in different flavours.
Where to next?
Would you like to see one of the most important treasures of the Czech Republic with your own eyes? If so, you should visit Bečov nad Teplou, whose chateau is home to the wonderful St. Maurus Reliquary, one of the most beautiful examples of medieval art in Europe. Another great destination for a trip is the small fairytale town of Loket, which boasts a lovely historical centre and a magnificent Gothic castle. A torture instruments exhibition and a porcelain display can be seen here.