Karlovy Vary Favorite Tips by Kathrin_E Top 5 Page for this destination
Karlovy Vary Favorites: 27 reviews and 37 photos
Favorite thing: Among the many thermal springs in and around Karlovy Vary, 13 are used for spa treatment and can be drunk. Very few have opening hours at all (the large thermal spring Vrídlo, for example), most are out in the open and accessible any time. The water is free to take.
There is an excellent overview of the springs on the homepage of the city, so I don't have to repeat it all here.
I am quoting the rules about drinking the waters from that website because they are important to know, especially for people with health problems:
" The Ten Rules of the Karlovy Vary Drinking Cure
Karlovy Vary thermal water is a complex, highly concentrated mixture of natural substances. It is not designed for ongoing or uncontrolled use.
- It is recommended to use Karlovy Vary thermal mineral water only after consulting a spa physician with appropriate erudition
- To achieve maximum therapeutic effects, it is recommended to use Karlovy Vary thermal mineral water nearby the places where springs flow open.
- It is recommended to use Karlovy Vary thermal mineral water only from traditionally shaped porcelain or glass cups.
- It is not advised to combine a therapeutic cure with the consumption of alcohol or tobacco smoking. Passive smoking should be avoided too.
- Drinking cure includes physical activity too. It is recommended to digest Karlovy Vary thermal mineral water while walking slowly.
- Drinking cure should be taken when you feel fully relaxed and not in a hurry.
It is recommended to repeat drinking cure at intervals set by your physician.
- Drinking cure is a small ceremony during which other clients must not be disturbed.
- Mineral water cannot be used to water surrounding plants or be discharged onto the colonnade floor.
- When taking spring water from a spring vase beware that it is not allowed, out of hygienic reasons, to touch the spring stand or the discharge tubes."
Fondest memory: Sipping the water while promenading the colonnades and the river bank is,as they say in the rules, almost a little ceremony. Celebrate and enjoy it. You are walking in the footsteps of many celebrities of the past.
A water cup is a must-have, and a nice personal souvenir.
Some springs run into plain stone basins, others from fountains with sculptures. The springs all have an archtectural frame. This can be a small pavillon or a large colonnade. The colonnades were built to protect visitors from sun and rain while they were walking, sipping their water, people-watching and being watched. Until a century ago no one wanted a tan, pale skin was chic and a tan was for peasants, hence the sun protection.
The spirit of the healing springs
Favorite thing: The late 19th century has reshaped most of the spa quarter. There was not much space left after 1900 when art nouveau became the fashionable style. However, some gaps were still to be filled. The facades of the art nouveau buildings are just as ornate as their older historistic neighbours.
Fondest memory: Some buildings worth mentioning:
# The house with the majolica(?) picture in the gable that shows the spirit of the healing springs distributing water to sick people. Location: on the river bank opposite Mlýnská kolonáda, the Mill Colonnade.
# Felix Zawojski House, built in 1900 - beautiful facades on both sides. Location: next to the Big Spring and Market colonnade.
# Another large shop and apartement building next to the modern colonnade of the big spring.
# The Three Moors House, famous as Goethe's holiday sojourn during his spa treatments, has received an art nouveau facade.
Favorite thing: The French term "belle époque", the "beautiful era", describes Karlovy Vary's general appearance and the majority of its architecture best, that's why I am using it. The healing waters of the hot springs had been known since the 14th century and already around 1800 it had become a popular spa among the elegant world of Europe. However, its most prosperous period began when two doctors published about the medical qualities of the spring waters and the salt extracted from them, and the value of spa treatment in "Karlsbad", as it was then called, in the mid 19th century. After the town had been connected to the railway network in 1870, the number of visitors rose even more.
Karlovy Vary has a lot in common with Baden-Baden - no wonder these two former "summer capitals of Europe" have a relationship as twin cities.
The golden era lasted until the beginning of World War I. In those decades most of the spa quarter and the city centre were rebuilt, refurbished and extended. The prevailing style in architecture is historism in all varieties, with a preference for neobaroque. The springs were covered with galleries for promenading and sipping the water.
Fondest memory: Many buildings from this era look like oversized wedding cakes. The style is more "sugary" than in Baden-Baden - I am comparing these two because I am familiar with the latter. But try not to be overwhelmed by the overdose of ornaments. Have a closer look at one house at a time, and watch out for details. If your camera has a good zoom, the better.
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