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.
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.
It’s hard to imagine that two centuries ago there was nothing here but a valley of inaccessible forest and bubbling swamps. However, when Johann Josef Nehr, a doctor from the nearby monastery in Teplá, proved the unique health-giving effects of the local springs, the spa town soon sprang up. Within a few years it was opening its doors to such figures as Chopin, Strauss, Goethe, Kafka, Freud, Kipling, Edison, Twain and Great Britain’s King Edward VII.
You certainly shouldn’t neglect to take a walk on the elegant neo-classical cast-iron colonnade, which dates from 1899 and is among the most beautiful in Bohemia. In the spa season, concerts of Mariánské Lázně classics are held here, while on special occasions, such as August’s Fryderyk Chopin International Music Festival, the local symphony orchestra also performs. Why not taste the water from the Cross spring, which has beneficial effects on the kidneys, while also enjoying some dulcet tones? Not far from the spring you can take in the world renowned Singing Fountain, at which you can listen to one of several world famous compositions every odd hour on the hour. Those of a romantic nature should return in the evening, when the fountain is illuminated by lighting effects.