Some like it hot

By the mid-14th century, Czech king Charles IV realized that the hot springs in the valley of the river Teplá had extraordinary therapeutic effects.

Therefore he established a spa in the midst of forests, which soon began to be called after him and became the leading spa destination in the Czech Republic.

Charles IV
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You can let yourself be carried away by the vibrant life of the five Karlovy Vary colonnades, where you will be surprised by the number of street performances and small shops.

Vřídlo hot spring
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The remarkable energy that permeates the entire city is best absorbed at the Vřídlo Colonnade, which arches over the most prolific thermal spring, Vřídlo. Pressurized mineral water with a temperature of more than 73 °C shoots up to a height of 12 metres. When you visit, be sure not to miss the exhibition in the old underground colonnade, where you will learn about rare local microorganisms and how spring water can be used to create “petrified rose” souvenirs.

Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary
Slideshow
The Mill Colonnade © Ladislav Renner

The Mill Colonnade

The Mill Colonnade © Ladislav Renner

The Mill Colonnade

Karlovy Vary © Ladislav Renner

Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary © Ladislav Renner

Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary © Ladislav Renner

Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary © Ladislav Renner

Karlovy Vary

Jelení skok © Ladislav Renner

Jelení skok

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Medicinal springs

 

For healing treatments, twelve major springs are traditionally used. There are many more springs in Karlovy Vary, although some of them bubble up directly in the river Teplá or in the cellars of local houses. The beneficial influence of the local waters has attracted famous personalities for centuries, including Johann Sebastian Bach, the Russian czar Peter the Great, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and numerous Hollywood stars, from Mary Pickford to Robert Redford. One of the regular visitors was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who liked the city so much that he visited a total of thirteen times during his life.

Czar Peter the Great
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Photos: Johann Sebastian Bach, Peter the Great, Karel Marx, Sigmund Freud

Inspiration for Beethoven

It is said that a melody played on the trumpet by a Karlovy Vary postman was the inspiration for the main theme of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Overture in C Major. The famous composer stayed in the town twice in 1812 and is indelibly inscribed in its history.

Overture in C Major
Ludwig von Beethoven

Still remembered today is Beethoven’s benefit concert to support the Austrian spa of Baden, which was damaged by a huge fire in 1812. Beethoven performed together with the Italian violinist Giovanni Batistta Polledro in the Czech Hall of the Grandhotel Pupp, and completely won over the local inhabitants. Maybe even more so because a similar tragedy to the one which befell the Baden spa had previously been experienced twice by Karlovy Vary.

The lively and joyful atmosphere of spa life is reflected in Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, which he worked on here. That the memory of the German Romantic composer is still alive in the city today is suggested by the regular August music festival called Beethoven’s Days, during which the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra showcases the best of Beethoven’s works. The composer also has one of the most impressive monuments in the city, in which the sculptor Hugo Uher immortalized him in larger than lifesize.

Star-studded summers

Each year at the end of June and beginning of July, the most prestigious film festival in Central and Eastern Europe takes over Karlovy Vary. During the two weeks of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the biggest stars of the silver screen strut the red carpet in front of the Hotel Thermal, and the entire city is transformed into one big never-ending party.

Crystal Globes
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The tradition of the Karlovy Vary film festival dates back to 1947, although the first such showcase was held one year earlier in nearby Mariánské Lázně. During the communist era, although the festival was ranked alongside similar festivals in Berlin, Venice and Cannes, due to the country’s international isolation the festival never achieved the same level of fame. Only since 1989 has it gradually been building its name and gaining greater critical acclaim and the increasing attention of filmmakers from around the world. They know that in Karlovy Vary there will often appear talented artists who are not yet too well known but in a few years will attain international recognition.

The festival offers not only the chance to see excellent films but also an opportunity to establish connections with other lovers of cinema. In the tent city there is always a family atmosphere, and at a party in one of the many Karlovy Vary bars you definitely won’t remain sitting alone in the corner.

 

 

Karlovy Vary

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