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Baths and Bastilles

Czech Republic, Praha
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Where the nouvelle riche of Russia go on holiday- Baths in Bohemia
Goethe composed poems during his stay in Karlsbad around July 1806 of which several contain references to the healing waters and clays of the mineral springs. He did more for Bohemian bathing culture than anybody else and he probably owed his Faust-like creativity and libido to his stay here, having drunk the waters then as we do today, from a small spouted cup decorated with roses.
GALLERY

Lázně Kynžvart


Next to the ruins of the old castle of Burg Königswart this little spa town of c.1600 people has a wonderful baroque castle with an exquisite restaurant on the castle grounds. The spa buildings are built in a classical Viennese style and are best known for their treatment of people with breathing difficulties and skin problems.


Mariánské Lázně



“One tries to make a better person of you by taking away all the pleasant things to which you are used”, mark Twain joked during his visit to the town in 1891. He described Marienbad (today c 14000 residents) as the most modern town on the continent and as pretty as you could wish for.


The nostalgic charm of the town was caught on celluloid in Alain Resnais’ film ‘Last Year in Marienbad’. It shows its best side in the main street (Hlavní třída) with its mighty Art Nouveau hotels and town villas that line the hill on both sides.


The Karlsbad Marktbrunnenkolonnaden(the famous Russian inspired colonnades in Karlsbad).








There are 40 hot springs in the town, and over 100 further springs in the surrounding area. If the smell of sulfur puts you off you may like to wander along the promenade through the Kurkolonnade (spa colonnade built in 1888-89). The wonderful coffered ceiling and the fantastic Art Nouveau frescos by Jan Vyletal draw your eyes upwards, but don’t miss the singing fountain that provides classical accompaniment to the scene. The Royal Golf Club was one of the first to be opened in continental Europe by King Edward VII in 1905. The history of the region and the story of the world famous Bohemian glass production are told in the Karlovarské museum in Nová Louka 23. If you prefer more contemporary art the Galerie umění in Goethova stezka 6 has exhibitions. Jan Becher’s infamous herb liqueur Becherovka is available all over the town, as are waffles, the best of which can be bought still warm at a stall next to the Sprudelkolonnaden. Bohemian glass can be bought at Glasfabrik Moser (Moser glass factory) in Dvory, a suburb of the town where there is also an exhibition. Jarosie 46/19. www.moser-glass.com

Horní Slavkov
The healing waters of Marienbad.


Right in the middle of the royal forest, (Slavkovský les), lies this pretty little porcelain town surrounded by little valleys and gushing streams and tiny villages with timber frame houses and mills. The town houses around 6000 residents, and although after the war several renaissance buildings were torn down, the Georgskirche (The George Church) and the baroque Spitalkirche St Anna are very much worth the trip.

Bečov nad Teplou


This small but exceedingly pretty little village has a gothic castle from the 14th Century that is joined to the baroque castle from 18th Century by a stone bridge. In the chapel there is a early gothic transportable sarcophagus that was used as a reliquary.

Wonderful Spas
La Provence, Appartements: For the area these are reasonably priced rooms in the centre of the town. Hlavní třída 650, Tel. +420 608 16 14 15. www.apartma-marienbad.com
Kurhotel Nové Lázně: Majestic building with similar prices starting at €180 for a double room, but the spa area in the hotel is reasonably priced with the King Edward VII’s Cabin. Reitenbergerova 53.
Restaurace U zlaté koule: the ‘Golden Globe’ was crowned the Best Restaurant of the Year many times. Specialities include game from the royal forest (Kaiserwald). Nehrova 26, Tel. +420 354 62 44 55
The religious needs of the guests taking the waters were also catered for in the town, and the communities built their own churches to serve the congregations of the different denominations. The Russian Orthodox Church of Holy Vladimir (1900-02. Ruska ulice 347/9) the Anglican Christ Church (1878/79. Ruska ulice 98) is based on an English village church, the evangelical Kirche Corpus Christi (1853-57 Mírové Náměstí) and the catholic Dekanatskirche Maria Himmelfahrt (1844-48, Goethovo Náměstí) was built in the New Byzantine style.

Karlovy Vary

The largest spa town in the Czech Republic is booming. The quiet and sleepy atmosphere experienced before the wall came down is now long gone and rich Russians have taken over the hot springs that were reportedly discovered by Charles IV. The Karlsbader Film Festival can be compared to the Cannes festival and the many mineral baths in the town compete for the customers from the Côte d’Azur.

A first impression of the town can be had from the Hirschensprung (Deer’s Leap). It is apparently here that during a hunt Charles IV saw a deer jump into the warm springs, which was purportedly the start of ‘Badekultur’, or bathing culture that swept through Europe in the 14th Century. Just a stone’s throw from here is the legendary Grand Hotel Pupp with the cable car next door.

A walk through the most important colonnades will improve your mood if not your health too. They were originally built as a kind of reception hall for the guests arriving in the town, starting with the Park Colonnades from 1880-1881, the Kurhaus (Spa House) from 1863-66, the famous and very popular Mühlkolonnaden (Mill Colonnades 1871-81) built in the Neo-Renaissance style. If the architecture is a little too overpowering then cross the road to the Sprudelkolonnaden built in 1975. There you will find a hot spring fountain shooting high into the air under a huge glass dome.

Our historic companion on this tour, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer left his masterful calling card in the form of Kuppelkirche (domed church) Maria Magdalena. The market place (Tržište) stands opposite the Market Fountain Colonnade with its delicate Art Nouveau façades and a baroque column of the Holy Trinity and the whole scene is observed from high above by the solitary Schlossturm.

Food and Lodging
Villa Basileia: Small, slightly dilapidated summer residence of the Duchess von Schaumburg-Lippe. DR with breakfast from €62, Marianskolaszenska 4, www.villabasileia.cz
Hotel Heluan: Rooms with paneled doors, stucco ceilings and tiled ovens for heating. Guests wanting to take the waters can make arrangements. DR/Breakfast €85. Tržište 387/41 www.heluan.eu
Restaurant Bernard. In the evenings this great restaurant turns in to a jazz club. Ondrejska 14.
Musikclub Propaganda: Live concerts at the weekends in a fun ambience and interesting interior design. Jaltska 7.
Information about the spas can be found under (00420) 355321176.
The history of the region and the story of the world famous Bohemian glass production are told in the Karlovarské museum in Nová Louka 23. If you prefer more contemporary art the Galerie umění in Goethova stezka 6 has exhibitions. Jan Becher’s infamous herb liqueur Becherovka is available all over the town, as are waffles, the best of which can be bought still warm at a stall next to the Sprudelkolonnaden. Bohemian glass can be bought at Glasfabrik Moser (Moser glass factory) in Dvory, a suburb of the town where there is also an exhibition. Jarosie 46/19. www.moser-glass.com

Horní Slavkov

Right in the middle of the royal forest, (Slavkovský les), lies this pretty little porcelain town surrounded by little valleys and gushing streams and tiny villages with timber frame houses and mills. The town houses around 6000 residents, and although after the war several renaissance buildings were torn down, the Georgskirche (The George Church) and the baroque Spitalkirche St Anna are very much worth the trip.

Bečov nad Teplou

This small but exceedingly pretty little village has a gothic castle from the 14th Century that is joined to the baroque castle from 18th Century by a stone bridge. In the chapel there is a early gothic transportable sarcophagus that was used as a reliquary.

Tepla


A lot of dust covers many treasures of old. In this town of c 3000 inhabitants on the river Tepla the Dientzenhofer family left its mark once again as they have done in so many settlements along the route. Christoph designed the Kapelle der Hl. Dreifaltigkeit, Kilian Ignaz was responsible for the chapel with the longest name on the Spielberg, dedicated to the Holy Cross, The Pained Mother of God and the Apostle Andrew! The Premonstratensian Abbey from the 12th Century is a small town in itself, with a late Roman chapel, the famous library (works include Luther’s Codex Teplensis) and the ‘Stopped Clock’, a symbol of welcome to any traveler left by the founder Gaugraf Hroznata. The clock is set at 11.30, time for lunch in the very reasonably priced Abbey refectory.

Golden Prospects
Úterý: This old prospecting settlement with the pretty marketplace and the renaissance town hall also has a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist and designed by Johann Dientzenhofer. The town is named after the day of the week on which the market takes place, Tuesday. 12.4 km southwest of Tepla.
Toužín: The little town of Toužín lies on the Střela, has a large castle and a pretty town centre. 14.2 km northeast of Tepla.

More Bohemian Villages
Žlutice: Baroque church of Peter and Paul, opulent Holy Trinity Column on the marketplace and a new gothic castle in Verusice. 16.3 km Northwest of Manětín.
Dobra Voda: The Trappist Abbey Nový Dvůr is about 1.5 km outside the village of Dobrá Voda that is actually part of Toužín. It was originally a baroque farmhouse (Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer) and now has a minimalist church designed by John Pawsons.
Nečtiny: The church of Holy Anna (1655-57) Jakobus d. Ä. (1750-52), a castle and 2 ruins make this village worth a look. 6 km Southwest of Manětín.
Královice: This settlement has belonged to the Plasy Abbey since 1183. It has a baroque pilgrim’s church, Mariánská Týnice. 11.1 km Northeast of Plasy.

Lehrpfad Střela -Tal

This nature trail is a welcome change to the architectural sights of the region and offers something for the soul before we continue on our tour. The starting point is the bus stop opposite the council building in the smallest town in Europe Rabštejn nad Střelou (20 inhabitants). As the English have their white cliffs of Dover, the Rabštejners have their grey/green slate hills that rise up beyond the river and upon which stands the castle. Rabštejn boasts a host of interesting architecture including gothic ruins, an old abbey- today a hotel-restaurant U Mnicha, a medieval stone bridge, a baroque castle and the late baroque church ‘Kirche der Schmerzensreichen Mutter Gottes’ (Church of the Pained Mother of God).

Manětín

The Baroque Pearl of West Bohemia owes its nickname to the architecture of the buildings surrounding the marketplace, the castle (renovated after a fire in 1712 in a baroque style) and the Deanery Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Plasy/Plaß

The little town of around 3000 people on the river Střela grew around Cistercian Abbey that was founded by Duke Vladislav II in 1145. The architectural style is from much later though, with renovations and rebuilding between 1685 and 1740 by Jean Baptiste Mathey, Jan Balzaj Santini-Aichel and of course the ubiquitous Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.

The Confluence of Three Rivers at Mže


A mineral bath and several castles line the route of the Mies, a 103 km long tributary of the river Berounka. The river was dammed at Trpistys (221 inhabitants and a baroque castle) and the Hracholusky reservoir was created. At the Easternmost end of the man-made lake the ruins of the Buben fortress can be found and river Úterský flows through a nature reserve and trail of the same name. The landscape is crisscrossed with deep valleys and rocky cliffs formed by the meandering river from Trpisty to Bezdružice (where you will find a pretty castle with glass museum www.zamekbezdruzice.cz).
The healing baths in the Konstantinsbad.

The gothic ruins of Gutštejn from the end of 13th Century, the dilapidated fortress Cebiv and the place of pilgrimage Sipin with its parish church St Barbara are all viewable along the route. To the west the river Černošín is the third tributary to join the main flow. At the mouth of the river the town of Svojšín stands with its castle and the church of St Peter and St Paul. 7 km to the North the ruins of the Volfštejn still dominate the Wolfsberg. Černošín itself has a baroque church dedicated to St George that is encircled by the ruins of the Trebel and Kořen castles. At Krasíkov, a part of Kokasice (272 inhabitants) one can view the ruins of the Svamperk, and from there, look all the way to the meeting point of the three rivers in Bezdruzice.

Konstantinovy Lazne

In this region teeming with mineral baths and hot springs, castles and citadels there is a little settlement that is doing very well for itself among its competitors. The strong smelling sulfurous waters have been famous since the 16th Century, and the town itself was named after Prince Konstantin von Löwenstein after it was named an official spa town in 1837.
The Kurhaus Prusik (1873) has specialized treatments for patients with heart and blood problems. The chapel across the road (Kapelle der Jungfrau Maria von Lourdes) provides the necessary religious sustenance. The Prusik pavilion collects all of the 5 mineral springs that are in the town, Karluv pramen, Zofin pramen, Frantiskuv pramen, Giselin pramen and Skalni pramen. At the turn of the last century many stylish villas and hotels were built in Konstantinovy.




This Article is part of the tour "The Golden Road"
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