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14-10-2019, 10:26 UTC
Towns of the Czech Republic
 
Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary
Besides the town's spa tradition, which goes back some 600 years at least, Karlovy Vary can also boast a good mix of architectural styles ranging from the Baroque to Art Nouveau. It is also home to the famous manufacturer of Bohemian glass Moser, the delicious Carlsbad wafers, and of course the popular Becherovka liquor.
There are four lookout towers that surround Karlovy Vary in a semi-circle, making it possible to view it from all sides. Many people's favourite view is from the hill called Jeleni Skok, which translates into ' stag's jump' and is apparently the place where Emperor Charles IV went hunting and discovered the curative mineral springs. The springs most probably began to be used for treatment after the town was founded in 1350. According to legend, Emperor Charles IV discovered the thermal springs by chance while he was deer hunting. They say his doctor suggested he try to heal a leg injury with baths in the thermal spring water. It was successful and Charles IV (or Karel IV in Czech) ordered a town to be founded by this spring and gave it his name - Karlovy Vary.
The colonnade and pedestrian zone are lined with breathtaking architecture from world famous architects such as Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, who built the Baroque Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the 1730s or some twenty late nineteenth century Art Nouveau buildings by the architectural duo Fellner and Helmer, and the list goes on. The architecture here is a true gem of the town and takes us back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You find buildings in the Romantic style, ideal for dreamers and lovers of the old days. Today's Karlovy Vary is mainly in the 19th century "historicist" style with a little Art Nouveau as well. Most of the town is only some 120 years old because, the first, gothic and renaissance, town burned down in 1604. Then there was another fire in 1759. The third building phase, which the famous poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe fell in love with, was in the Neoclassical style. These buildings were also gradually torn down in the late nineteenth century because the old houses were too small and failed to offer the comfortable living conditions that the spa guests demanded - electricity, hot water, flushing toilets, elevators... The town had to be modernised, leading to a boom in construction, eventually transforming the town into what we see today.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the spa town was a popular place of stay for the nobility as well as poets, writers, and musicians. Goethe sought the healing powers of the mineral springs thirteen times in the years between 1785-1823. Russian Tsar Peter the Great visited the town twice - in 1711 and in 1712. Time must have stood still since then - well dressed spa guests take relaxing walks along the colonnade, sipping mineral water in their special cups, which they fill at one of the springs in the late Renaissance Mlynska Kolonada or Mill Colonnade - a traditional symbol of Karlovy Vary, built between 1871 and 1881 and designed by the architect of Prague's National Theatre, Josef Zitek.
It is unclear how many thermal springs can be found in Karlovy Vary. Some books write there are up to 150, while most expert literature says there are between sixty and seventy, with their temperatures varying from 30 to 73 degrees Celsius. Twelve of them are currently being used to cure disorders of the digestive system, metabolic disorders and disorders of the locomotive organs. Today, Karlovy Vary attracts some 70,000 spa guests a year. The souvenirs - the 'petrified' rose: comes to being when paper roses are showered by thermal water in a special underground chamber where wastewater from the source of the thermal fountain is collected. The 73 degree aerated water releases calcium carbonate and a thin layer of sinter, coloured by the oxidized iron, settles on the objects. In the case of a rose it takes about six days for the sedimentation effect to turn it into stone.
Karlovy Vary wafers are thin circular wafers filled with chocolate, vanilla, or nuts.
Becherovka Museum - two hundred years ago in 1805, a count came with his personal doctor Frobrig to be treated in Karlovy Vary. They were put up in a house owned by the pharmacist Josef Becher. He had a very well equipped pharmacy here in Karlovy Vary and Dr. Frobrig spent all of his free time carrying out various experiments with herbs and spices there. He finally composed a secret formula for stomach drops and gave the recipe to Josef Becher as a gift. Josef Becher adjusted the recipe for two more years and started to sell the liquor as medicine in his pharmacy in 1807.