Czech Republic spas are famous throughout Europe and have been since the early days of the nineteenth century, even though they date as far back as fourteenth century. In fact, Karlovy Vary (literally, the Charles Spa) was named for Charles the IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who died in 1378. The rapid development of the Czech spas during the eighteenth century happened along with major developments in technology, science, and medicine.
Beautiful Gothic bathhouses were built above natural mineral and thermal hot springs, and the wealthy of the continent flocked to Czech spa towns throughout the 1800s and the early part of the 1900s. They came to “take the cure” usually under medical supervision for a wide range of medical conditions, from melancholy to rheumatism. Famous guests included the czars of Russia, the king of England, Beethoven, and Chopin. In fact, vacations at a spa in the Czech Republic provided the largest number of tourists to the country in the 1800s.
Today, tourists flock to Czech spa towns both for medical reasons and for the rich history they offer. You might never undergo a “treatment” while visiting Karlovy Vary, but you may well enjoy tours of the lavish historic bathhouses. In the last few decades, healthy outdoor exercise became recognized as an important complement to the value of spa treatments. Most every spa in the Czech Republic will also have easy access to other activities, such as golf and tennis. Many are located in beautiful natural areas where there is excellent cycling and hiking.
Many Czech Republic spas today are popular resorts, and it is possible to purchase vacation packages that include stays at the best of them. For instance, visit Karlovy Vary spas and you will have access to the lovely town’s two casinos. The Parkhotel and Grandhotel Pupp are four-star properties in the same complex with their own thermal hot springs as well as one of the town’s casinos. They are located in ornate baroque buildings that date to 1701, and boast several bars and lounges, as well as an acclaimed restaurant, and an 18-hole golf course. This spa in the Czech Republic is one of the oldest, and Karlovy Vary is the most historic and important of the spa towns. There approximately 100 natural thermal springs in the town, and several have actually been bottled to provide the liquid for the “drinking cure.” There are numerous lovely buildings in town, including the Peter and Paul Cathedral and St. Andrew’s church. If you want to visit during special events, there are several international festivals held here during the year, including music and film festivals. The most important is the International Film Festival held in July.
Much smaller, but equally picturesque, is the little town of Frantiskovy Lazne. This is the smallest of the Czech spa towns and is located in the far northwestern corner of the country, only five miles from the border with Germany. It retains its atmosphere from the early twentieth century in many neo-classic spa buildings and pavilions. There are 23 Frantiskovy Lazne spas that have been developed for health giving treatments. Also near the German border is Teplice, located about 40 miles south of Dresden. Archeological discoveries confirm that the hot springs here were used by Romans more than 2,000 years ago. The town was nearly destroyed by fire in 1793. Because the town was so popular with royalty from around Europe, they provided the funding to completely rebuild the Teplice spas and pavilions in the grand classic style. Visitors here can visit one of several nearby castles, and this is close to the route used for Elbe River cruises between Germany and the Czech Republic.
There are only a few spa towns near Prague that offer the kind of atmosphere of the more famous Czech Republic spas and towns. The town of Podebrady in central Bohemia is about 35 miles east of the capital city, and a very strong spring of mineral water was discovered in the castle’s courtyard in 1905. Spa vacations were very popular here in the years between the two world wars. Probably the best of the luxury hotels here is the Bellevue, which has two of its own mineral hot springs. In addition to the traditional historic spa towns, you will find that many luxury hotels, boutique hotels, and resorts elsewhere in the country have full-service spas.