In the historically inhospitable, marshy region of western Bohemia, a palatial spa town arose in the early 19th century that soon became popular with many important composers, philosophers, writers and statesmen.
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Gustav Mahler and Richard Wagner worked on their compositions here, Rudyard Kipling improved his handicap on the golf course here, and Alfred Nobel and Maxim Gorky eased their ailments at the spa.
Sigmund Freud would ponder the infinite depths of the human soul in a mud bath, and Thomas Alva Edison would dream up new inventions in the comfort of the five-star Hotel Esplanade. Mark Twain even described his stay at the spa in the slightly satirical article Marienbad – A Health Factory. On a walk through Mariánské Lázně today, you will find reminders of their visits at every step.
Among the dozens of famous names to visit the spa, however, one rises above the rest: that of British King Edward VII.
Beginning in 1897, he visited a total of nine times and was perhaps fonder of no other place in continental Europe. During his August visits to the town, it transformed for a few weeks into a centre of world affairs, where talks were held on major policy issues.
Maxim Gorky Colonnade
The visits of the British monarch are recalled not only by the names of salons in the Nové Lázně (New Spa) Hotel, where in 1904 he met with the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, but also at the local golf course, which is one of the very oldest in Europe. Edward VII significantly contributed to its construction and was present at its gala opening. It was also thanks to him that a successful era of golf began here, interrupted only by the Second World War.
The golf club has regained the lustre it lost in the forty years of stagnation during the communist era. Its renewed success has delighted even the British royal family, who did not forget, even after a hundred years, the part their predecessor played in its establishment. Thanks to a decision by Queen Elizabeth II, since 2003 the club is the only one in Central Europe with the right to use the title Royal Golf Club. It is therefore not out of the question that you might encounter international celebrities at the tee.
Photos: Mariánské Lázně Golf Club 1913, 1936 (© Royal Golf Club Mariánské lázně)
Healing for the body and the spirit
What would a visit to a spa town be if you did not take advantage of the array of spa treatments, wellness salons or programmes for improving your physical fitness? Here, you can indulge in superior care, which combines the latest advances with more than two hundred years of tradition.
The varied composition of the mineral springs bubbling forth in Mariánské Lázně makes it suitable for treating a variety of problems. Thanks to the high content of carbon dioxide, the local mineral and gas baths are completely unique in the world.
At the Health Spa Resort complex in the heart of town, you will understand why King Edward VII liked the spa so much. You can even treat yourself to a mineral bath in the Royal Cabin that he used on his stays. Under the ornate ceilings of the historical Roman-style baths, all the worries of the outside world seem to float away. You’ll find another great opportunity to relaxs at the nearby peat baths, which are the oldest of their kind in Europe.
Photos: Royal Cabin of Edward VII in the Nové Lázně (New Spa) Hotel (Karlovy Vary Information center, © 2 M STUDIO s. r. o.)