The Tradition of Czech Spas
Written by Katerina Jindrackova and Hong Vy Nguyen
Learn more about The Tradition of Czech Spas
Czech Spas are some of the most popular in the world as people from all over Europe have enjoyed the country’s mineral springs and geothermal resources for centuries. The Czech Republic is also known for being significant according to the importance of spas worldwide. The most popular spa towns are the trio of Czech towns called Karlovy Vary, Marianske lazne and Frantiskovy lazne located in the western part of the Czech Republic. Besides the so-called, “triangle” of the most famous Czech spa towns is Luhacovice which is located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic are worth mentioning.
According to the legend, the first thermal spring was discovered by the hunting retinue of the king Charles the IV. Although the exact year of foundation of the town is not known, the formation of Vřídlo dates back to 1350 and in 1370 king Charles the IV. granted the town a privilege of a free royal city. It is said that he was so amazed by this natural phenomenon that he bathed his wounded leg in the spring. When his wounds healed, he ordered to build the town of Karlovy Vary.
It was at the end of the 18th century when the biggest development of Czech spas started, however the mineral springs were already used for its medicinal impacts in the beginning of the 15th century. There were some spa towns established around the mineral springs. Many bathhouses, colonnades and parks were built since the biggest development of the Czech spas had started. These spa towns became the important centers of the social and cultural life as they were called “saloons of Europe”.
Accordingly, during the biggest rise of the Czech spa towns various influential artists or politicians met there for different reasons such as business or political meetings. Karlovy Vary town is the best example for having many famous visitors during the history such as Peter the Great, Franz Joseph I., J.W. Goethe, L. Van Beethoven, W. A. Mozart or N. Paganini or even Americans like T. A. Edison or the writer Mark Twain. Even nowadays there are many excellent institutions in almost every region of Czech.
Approximately 200 years after the first spring was discovered, thermal water was used specially for therapeutic purposes. The healing procedures of former doctors seem rather drastic these days, since parts of the body which were diseased had to be immersed underwater for several hours until the skin cracked. After 1521 based on the doctor Vaclav Payer’s initiative, thermal water was also used for inner use. Although the amount of thermal water which was prescribed to drink was approximately 3-5 liters daily. Thanks to David Becher’s findings it was found out that the prescribed amount should be 1 liter a day until now. Nowadays the most common treatment of spa methods in Czech are the following: Drinking mineral water from springs. Hydrotherapy which is a classic treatment method including baths, wraps and various tiling and sprays. Therapeutic inhalations which is used for treating a respiratory tract using salt-rich water. Photo-therapy which is especially for mental illness where a light from strong resources is used. Kines-therapy which aims for strengthening joints. Electra-therapy and magneto-therapy where electrical and magnetic positive effects on the human body are used. Stays in various salt caves where CO2 is inhaled.
Anyways, instead of chemical treatments with many negative and unhealthy aspects, spa and its effects are an excellent natural alternative way.