The Baths are a Baroque complex of spa buildings built between 1905/06. The building is named in memory of the murdered wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I, Empress Elisabeth, commonly known as Sisi. A park and fountain complement's this lovely building.
The Elizabeth Baths, the largest balneological facility in Karlovy Vary, provides more than 60 spa procedures using thermal water and peat.
A very nice drive we did was a round tour of the old residential area of Karlovy Vary. This area is known as "the prestigious" residential quarter, and it certainly is.
House's are multi storey, in lots of different designs, many with turret's, all painted beautifully and with spick & span garden's. It was an area I could have taken a photo of nearly every building.
The Savoy Westend Hotel is one such building. Built in 1897, the Hotel has seen many famous people as guests. It was built in 1897.
I am talking about the Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul which is located away from the busy area of Karlovy Vary. We actually came across it by accident when we were driving around the residential area of Karlovy Vary. Once I saw it, I wanted to stop and go for a look inside. As with many other interesting sight's in Karlovy Vary, parking was not to be found, so all I got was a photo from the outside. Golly this town was annoying!
Anyrate, this Church, built between 1893 and 1898, was beautifully decorated in light blue and white, and had five golden Cupola's, it was a stunner! It didn't look that old at all! It was built in the fashion of the Byzantine-old Russian church in Ostankino near Moscow. Money for the building came from wealthy Serbian and Russian clientele and nobility.
Like many of these Churches, the floor plan is in the shape of a Greek cross and the church walls have murals. It sounds quite nice inside. One of the major works of art is the relief of Russian Czar Peter the Great.
OPEN...daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The beautifully decorated Park Colonnade was designed by Viennese architects and is very attractive. Although the Pavilion was demolished in the 1960s, the cast-iron colonnade is still standing. It was built in the 1880's, and there isn't much left from this time, most is from reconstruction in 2002. Lucky, it was decided to repair rather than demolish.
Its location is very pretty, set in a nice park with the River running through. Quite a few people were here.
Snake spring [30°], Park Spring [47°] and Freedom Spring [60°] are located here.
This is just one of many Colonnades in Karlovy Vary
One of the town's attractions is the Art Nouveau architecture of so many of the attractive buildings alongside the River Teplá.
It's an aspect we weren't able to appreciate to the full, being huddled under our umbrellas all the time.
I did manage a couple of shots, however.
The springs are the real reason the city has become an attraction. Part of the idea seems to be that you buy a little porcelain drinking mug, and then walk up and down the main street stopping for a drink at each spring as you go along.
I counted 3 buildings housing multiple springs - 2 quite attractive architecturally, and one which is a more modern Soviet style structure.
Most of the springs seem to be warm or hot. The mug has a spout like on a kettle to cool the water before it reaches your mouth. Most of the springs also tasted pretty grim. From that I deduce they must be very good for you.
The other part of the idea is that you bathe in the water. Just being on a day trip, we didn’t try that. Maybe next time.
An institution. We went in for coffee & a sandwich when we got to the top end of the spa area. It was the city’s first hotel, over 300 years ago.
Loved it to be able to soak in the atmosphere & history (and gave us a break from being soaked by the rain outside).
Reputedly frequented by the stars, particularly during the film festival.
In the photo it's the off-white building in centre shot.
350 kr for 2 coffees and a lovely sandwich. Say €14, so not cheap
(work in progress)
One of Karlovy Vary's many charms is its exquisite setting along the narrow valley of the Teplar Valley.
In addition to taking the waters, spa towns promoted other healthy activities such as walking, and the surrounding beech forests are crisscrossed with a network of hiking trails - apparently there are more than 130km of pathways and mountain bike tracks.
Be warned that although the section of the town along the river is relatively flat and easy strolling, the slopes of the valley are very steep. For those of a less athletic disposition, it is possible to catch a funincular railway up to the Diana viewpoint from the Grand Hotel Pupp - follow this link for operating times, which change depending on the season.
Follow the website link below for more information on other viewpoints and attractions in the surrounding woodlands, including the Deep Leap and Three Crosses.
If taking the funicular makes you feel as though you've cheated (which of course you have), then you could then assuage your guilt by walking back down into town: the woodland is exquisite.
Karlovy Vary - the former Carlsbad - was named for Holy Roman Emperor (and King of Bohemia) Charles IV, who founded the town in 1370. It is renowned for its curative waters that have supported a fashionable spa culture for several centuries, but have you ever stopped to consider why there are hot springs there in the first place?
The town is located at the confluence of the Ohre and Tepla Rivers, and was established around 13 main springs and about 300 minor springs. The Vøídlo ("Hot Spring") is the hottest with the temperature of 73°C (163°F) and the others have cooler temperatures (of 60°C or less). As a result of inflow from these thermal springs, the Tepla River is actually warm to the touch.
The clue to why there are hot springs here is provided by the picture above. The giveaway is the course of the river, which consists of straight sections that then sharply change direction. A quick glance at a geological map confirms that the river course follows the trace of faults, which are more easily eroded than the surrounding unfractured granite.
The same faults that control the course of the Tepla River also provide a pathway of fractures along which water from surface can move down to a depth of 2km, where it encounters hot rock. Once the water heats up, it is less dense than cooler water and thus rises back to surface and 'daylights' as hot springs.
In line with the usual hyperbolic claims about the curative properties of spa water, the following claims are made for Karlovy Vary water:
"Karlovy Vary water is used In Europe to heal severe chronic problems of the gallbladder, urinary bladder, liver, pancreas, and prostate, including cholecystitis, colitis, pancreatitis, gallstones, chronic hepatitis, and early stages of liver cirrhosis, gastritis, stomach ulcers, etc.
"It is also recommended for obesity, diabetes, gout, high cholesterol, skin diseases arid allergies. The water is recommended for healthy people for whole body cleansing and to help prevent illness. It is widely used in cosmetics, colon hydrotherapy, mouth and nasal rinsing, and bath preparations."
Whew! Maybe it would have been quicker to state what it couldn't cure ...
For those interested in learning more about this aspect of Karlovy Vary's natural history, there is a 1.5km geological trail that you can follow through the glorious Slavkovský Forest that surrounds the town - yet one more excuse for a stroll in this gorgeous setting!
One of the most easily identified landmarks in Karlovy Vary is the picture perfect Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul, whose gilded domes are visible from most points across the town.
Churches in spa towns tend to be particularly well endowed, either by patients giving thanks for miraculous cures - or those hoping to invoke divine intervention in achieving one. This church is particularly lavishly decorated and apparently features a relief of Russian Czar Peter the Great, although it was unfortunately closed when I visited.
One of the defining features of European spa towns is that they were almost invariably wealthy places and thus almost always boast exceptional architecture.
Karlovy Vary is no exception to this, and I particularly enjoyed the Art Nouveau/Deco influence on many buildings.
The narrowness of the valley and the steepness of the surrounding slopes mean that the town has developed as a narrow 'ribbon' along the valley, and the contrast of tall elegant houses and shallow tumbling river against a backdrop of slopes clad in beech forest (my favourite kind) is particularly pleasing.
It would be beautiful at any time of the year, but if you have a choice, Karlovy Vary would be particularly lovely in spring, when the beech trees are in new leaf or - best of all - in fall, when the leaves are on the turn and a riot of autumnal colour.
The natural hot water springs are what made Karlovy Vary famous, the hottest i saw was 65 C. People stroll from one fountain to another with there own personal mug with a spout to drink from. Some use plastic cups or bottles. There are several water foutains under the Collanades. The water is supposed to have health giving uses.
The funicular station for the observation tower is up a passageway [ narrow street ] at the end of Karlovy Vary near the Grand Pupp Hotel. Fare is 70 Kc return.. The tower has a lift no charge. The views are good, there are plenty of walk routes. Funicular at regular times.
On the promenade Stará Louka along the river you'll hear the sound of small bells now and then and wonder where it comes from. There are no bells to be seen anywhere. Nevertheless the sound is rather loud and can also be heard from the opposite river bank.
The solution to the riddle is an innocent-looking pattern of nine metal squares in the pavement. This is a glockenspiel that you can play with your feet. Each of the metal squares has a different tone. Step on them to make them ring. Try dancing on them. Talented musicians may even be able to play some melodies.
Here is a video of the thing (courtesy of german_eagle)
Location: river promenade roughly opposite the theater.
Karlovy Vary's theater is a neobaroque structure, built in 1886 on the river bank in the middle of the spa quarter. The architects were Fellner and Helmer who also designed the Park and Market Colonnade. The facades bear some resemblance to the State Opera in Vienna, though at a smaller scale - there clearly was some ambition behind the project.
We saw the theater only from the outside but the facades are promising a lot. The interior can be expected to show even mroe belle epoque splendour.