Karlovy Vary: The exciting Spa Town in Western Bohemia | Subhash Motwani

Last month, we covered Cesky Krumlov and this month we take you to one of the must visit places located in the north west of Prague around 125 kilometres and close to the border of Eastern part of Germany. Also known as Carlsbad, Karlovy Vary is one of the three Spa Towns which forms part of the Spa Triangle -the other two towns which are in close proximity from Karlovy Vary are Mariánské Lázne and Františkovy Lázne. All the three towns are a few kilometers away from each other. Located in the western part of Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary is located on the confluence of the Ohre and Teplá River. The town has become a very popular tourist destination especially for international celebrities as besides spa treatments it all hosts the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The recent Hollywood Movie Last Holiday which was released in 2006 was shot in the famous Grandhotel Pupp. The town is so popular amongst Americans that there are cities in the state of New Mexico and California which are known as Carlsbad which is how the town is famously known in English.
The Carlsbad Region is very scenic with wooden hills at the western tip of the Czech Republic and although it occupies a very small area of the Bohemia and Moravia regions, in terms of reputation, it is one of the must visit towns in Czech Republic after Prague and Cesky Krumlov. Besides spa, the town is famous for Becherovka and houses the Jan Becher Museum where you can take a guided tour to find out why Becherovka is one of the most popular liqueur drinks and souvenirs of the region.
It’s a good idea to visit the historic cellars and lose yourself in the myriad of unique exhibits and discover the secrets of the special bitter-sweet herbal liqueur made out of medicinal herbs and spices and is one of the extraordinary drinks which not only serves as a digestive but also an ingredient of many cocktails. It is hard to believe that it is in Karlovy Vary that the unique Becherovka is produced for over 200 years and is also known as the Thirteenth Spring of Karlovy Vary as the town was already famous for its 12 springs. The most famous Czech cocktail is probably Beton which is a combination of Becherovka and tonic water, along with lemon juice, lemon and ice. Beton is served in most restaurants that offer cocktails on their menu. A tour of the Museum costs around 100 Czech crowns and is worth every Crown and should be included in your tour to Karlovy Vary. Due to its close proximity to the German border, you will find a lot of people speaking German at Carlsbad and now a little bit of history about this beautiful town.
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Carlsbad was founded by the Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV around 1350 and this town has grown over centuries and is frequented by spa guests from more than 80 countries around the world. The mineral water from the natural hot springs vary in temperature from 9ºC to 73.4ºC and is used in healing baths, irrigation as well as drinking. The hot springs comprise of important minerals for the human body and its helps in cure of several ailments as well as helps to release the various harmful toxins that are stored in the human body.

In all there are 12 spas in Karlovy Vary and besides being known as the largest and most important spa in the region, Karlovy Vary is one of 4 major cities of Europe which hosts prestigious film festivals. The other three cities are Venice, Cannes and Berlin. The Film Festival in Karlovy Vary is generally hosted around the beginning of July and is attended by celebrities from across the world. Due to the popularity of this town, it has its own international airport which has several charter flights coming in besides regular connections from Prague. The famous visitors to this region include royalties, politicians, who’s who from Hollywood, writers, composers, scientists , architects and probably that’s one of the reasons that Carlsbad is also known as the city of famous visitors.
Today’s appearance of Carlsbad especially the spa centre was influenced by the late 19th Century and early 20th century architectural styles – the revivalist style of Historicism and the new Art Deco with finer touches from Viennese architects Helmer and Fellner. Hence, the town has attracted numerous creative individuals and architects and over 70 well known artists live and work here.
Carlsbad is also a shopper’s delight as it is well known for its consumer goods and food production. The best known products of Carlsbad are the porcelain known as the Karlovarsky porcelain; glass from the famous Moser for which the credit goes to Ludwig Moser who founded a company bearing his name in Karlovy Vary in 1857. En route from Prague to Karlovy Vary you can visit the Moser museum which displays some of the finest Bohemian glassworks which have been used by royalties from across the globe including the maharajahs and royalties from India.

Moser is world renowned for its precise hand cutting, engraving gold and platinum painting which has earned this house numerous prizes at world exhibitions and rightfully Moser is known as the “Glass of Kings” as you will find Moser products as an integral part of royal houses, presidents and distinguished personalities all over the world. To become owner of a drinking set bearing the Moser trademark has been a matter of prestige for significant personalities across the world.
Carlsbad is also famous for other products including Mattoni-the famous brand of mineral water and the traditional spa waffles known as Karlovarksé Oplatky. The traditional spa waffles are made from the year 1856 and their superb taste, the delicious aroma and interchangeable lightness reminds all visitors the singularity of the spa mood. Such celebrities like Peter the Great, W.A. Mozart, F.W. Schiller and many others tasted the fresh warm waffles.

Carlsbad has also one of the finest golf course- the Karlovy Vary Golf Course which was built in 1904 and is the oldest golf course in Czech Republic. The city is a fantastic walking town and the various colonnades more than characterize the flavour of this lovely town and people can walk around and drink water directly from the springs. The Mill Colonnade is the oldest and the largest colonnades and was built as a Neo-Renaissance column hall closed by a flat ceiling supported by 124 Corinthian columns.
The most recent of all the Colonnades is the Chateau Colonnade which was built in 1911 on the slope below Chateau Hill and at the centre of this colonnade is the Hot Spring known as the “father” of all local springs. The Hot Spring comes from the depth of almost 2 kilometres along a deep fault and is the hottest one of the region at 73.4ºC and spews about 2000 litres of water. Because of innumerable activities the city of Karlovy Vary has several hotels but the star attraction is undoubtedly the Grandhotel Pupp – one of the most beautiful hotels in Central Europe, a 5 star deluxe hotel with room rates going up to 500 Euros per night for their rooms which has hosted celebrities ranging from Kings, princesses, Presidents of States, artists, scientists and film stars.
Some of the honoured guests of the 18th Century included musical composer Johann Sebastian Bach; Russian Tsar Peter the Great; founder of the modern balneology Dr. David Becher; as well as Austrian Empress Marie Teresie of the Habsburgs. The hotel was very sought after for its serenity; other musical geniuses came to stay in this inspirational atmosphere, such as famous opera composers Richard Wagner, Antonín Dvorák and Ferenc Liszt.

The most famous guests of the “GRANDHOTEL PUPP” are made up of traditional celebrities of the political and movie arena. Amongst recent visitors include American actress Whoopi Goldberg, actor Gregory Peck, Michael Douglas and individuals from political world who have stayed here are President Václav Havel, Spanish King Juan Carlos, Norwegian King Harald and many others.
One thing is certain, when walking up the stairways and the soft carpets of the “GRANDHOTEL PUPP”, you can actually claim having walked in the steps of history. Or at least in the steps of those, who created the history and on whom the history depended. The hotel has the works- Spa treatments, conference facilities, finest restaurants, Casino Club and those who would like to get the ambience of the complex and not pay too fancy a price can opt to stay at the adjoining 4 star First Class Parkhotel Pupp. The whole complex has 228 rooms with the Grandhotel Pupp comprising of 112 luxurious rooms and the Parkhotel Pupp having 116 rooms.

So if you are planning a trip to Karlovy Vary, you can contact COMPACT TRAVELS – the only Czech Republic specialist travel company in India which can give you a total travel experience of visiting one of Czech Republic’s finest towns which will be etched in your memory for a very long time.
The Carlsbad mineral springs include
• The Hot Spring – Temperature A 72°C, B 50°C, C 30°C
• Charles IV. Spring – Temperature 60,5°C
• Market Spring – Temperature 57,2°C
• Mill Spring – Temperature 55,6°C
• Nymph Spring – Temperature 50,6°C
• Prince Václav – Spring I. and II. – Temperature 65,3°C
• Libuše Spring – Temperature 62°C
• Rock Spring – Temperature 53°C
• Orchard Spring – Temperature 47°C

The following ailments are traditionally treated in Carlsbad:

• Gastro-intestinal disorders
• Metabolism disorders,
• Diabetes mellitus,
• Obesity,
• Gout
• Parodontosis,
• Disorders of locomotive organs.
Carlsbad curative methods:

• Drinking cure,
• Mineral baths,
• Siphoning,
• Peat moss and Paraffin Packs,
• Inhalation,
• Cryotherapy,
• Electrotherapy,
• Hydropathy,
• Traditional and Underwater Massages,
• Oxygenotherapy,
• Dental irrigation,
• Pneumopuncture,
• Acupuncture.

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