Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is the most important spa city of the Czech Republic. Balneology has been accompanying this city since its foundation into the present. For 650 years already, the local thermal springs serve to cure various diseases. However, in the world, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is nowadays being associated not only with its unique spa therapy, but also with the International Film Festival and a few traditional Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) products.
- Karlovy Vary (KLV) 5 km
- Praha (PRG) 130 km
- München (MUC) 310 km
- Nürnberg (NUE) 180 km
- Frankfurt (FRA) 380 km
History of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) became famous very shortly after the discovering of the curative effects of the springs. During the past centuries, many important personalities visited the city. And due to the busy tourist traffic, the city grew very fast. But Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) also experienced hungry years… Read more about the history of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), as the name itself suggests, was named after the Emperor Charles IV. According to a popular tale, he had it built in the latter half of the 14th century, after the discovery of a hot spring with a magical curative power.
However, the spa and construction development of the city located in the basins of the Ohře and Teplá Rivers only began in the 16th century. The city flourished due to its world-wide fame as a spa. However, the golden times did not last long. Two natural disasters in the form of a fire and a flood shook up the busy tourist traffic. Another hit for Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) was the Thirty Years’ War which brought poverty and hunger to the city, and, for a long time, stopped the promising economical boom. The period when balneology was not doing so well gave rise to the traditional Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) trades such as tin production, gunsmithing, needle-making, and cutlery.
Karlovy Vary’s (Carlsbad’s) balneology experienced its renaissance in the 17th century, when rich aristocrats from Saxony, Poland, and Russia started to come to the famous spa again. The most honored visitor, without any doubt, came at the beginning of the 18th century - Peter I the Great, who visited Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) twice.The 18th century was a period of wealth for the city. Thanks to the favor of the monarchy and the visits of rich patrons, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) quickly began to grow. One of the most important church monuments - the baroque Church of St. Mary Magdalene (1736) - comes from this period.
The fame of Karlovy Vary continued to grow. That is why the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century is characterized mainly by the foreign clientele. Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) became an important cultural and social city. Some of the visitors were, for example, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Chopin, Paganini, and many other important personalities of that time.
Only the 19th century gave Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) its existing appearance. Also the majority of the spa and
church buildings were built:
Mlýnská kolonáda (The Mill Colonnade) (1881)
Tržní kolonáda (The Market Colonnade) (1883)
Císařské lázně (The Emperor’s Spa) (1895)
Městské divadlo (The Municipal Theater) (1886)
pravoslavný kostel sv. Petra a Pavla (St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church) (1897)
anglikánský kostel sv. Lukáše (Anglican Church of St. Luke) (1887)
And many others...
The intense construction activities were completed before World War I with the building of the international Grandhotel Imperial (1912).
The 19th century and the spirit of the industrial revolution brought the Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) railroad. This, along with great successes in the treatment of diabetes, ensured the city an even greater visitor rate. The treatment and various scientific, cultural, social, and political assemblies attracted guests of note: Gogol, Lizst, Freud, Barrande, Fontane, Dvořák, Marx, Brahms, and many others.
Just before World War I, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) was at its peak. The city treated more than 70 thousand patients. However, the conflict severely harmed the development of balneology. After the war, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) never achieved visitor rate like before.
After World War I came other economic disasters, such as the world crisis, World War II, and normalization.
No wonder the spa life in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) almost stopped. The city development in the 2nd half of the
20th century was according to the spirit of socialist realism. The following, and many other buildings, were built:
The Thermal Hotel (1977)
Vřídelní kolonáda (The Thermal Spring Colonnade) (1975)
The Švýcarský dvůr Hotel (The Swiss Court) (1971)
The Sanssouci Hotel (1970)
After the Velvet Revolution (1989), the Karlovy Vary Spa (Carlsbad) started to dust off its world fame. The spa therapy was enhanced by modern procedures, hotels, and important architectural buildings were reconstructed, and Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) started to once more open its arms to visitors from the entire world.
Also in the 21st century, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) owes its fame mainly to its natural wealth - thermal springs, which have already been bringing people health for 650 years.
The present of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Since the end of the 20th century, the Karlovy Vary Spa (Carlsbad) again began to mean something even outside of the Czech Republic. During the spa season, you would more likely hear foreign languages in the streets then Czech, especially during the festival. Click here for more information about present day Karlovy Vary
The current life in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is not only about the springs and balneology. The traditional Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) therapy still remains the biggest attraction, but those who do not come to Karlovy Vary for the “miracle springs” can admire many architectural sights, visit famous sports facilities, and enjoy important events.
Due to its unique atmosphere and ideal conditions for congress tourism, the city is often the place for various congresses, conferences, and other social events. Also the Hotel Imperial and Spa Resort Sanssouci have many halls and lounges available which are ideal for organizing various events.
Besides large events, you can also visit various theater performances, concerts, exhibitions, etc during your stay. Other interesting events take place in the hotels of the Imperial Group. The Hotel Imperial organizes dance evenings, concerts, lectures, and exhibitions on a regular basis. The Spa Resort Sanssouci offers entertainment in the form of dance evenings.
The most important events in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
After the spa treatment, it is often an important cultural event that brings the most tourists. Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is the regular host of many events of world-class importance; the most famous one is the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Everyone finds something to enjoy here. The young generation will probably prefer the International Film Festival. The older generation would probably rather visit the events organized within the event “Dvořákův podzim“ (Dvořák’s Autumn) or the Jazz Festival.
The Nobility Weekend - Meeting of European Aristocrats
Every year, up to 600 European aristocrats meet in Karlovy Vary on this weekend. The “Jarní ples“ (Spring Ball) event is the highlight of this weekend. However, the aristocrats participate in other events, such as horse racing, golf tournaments, etc.
Spa season opening
A popular annual event, with a historical parade through the city lead by Charles IV. The spa season starts with a consecration of the springs. During this opening weekend, you can also visit a historical market and a few concerts. The festivities take place in several places in Karlovy Vary.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
This is the most important event in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). During one week in July, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is consumed by the unique festival atmosphere. Tourists from all over the world are everywhere; concerts, parties, and ceremonials take place constantly. You can meet Czech and foreign celebrities in the city. Films from all over the world compete in several categories and are evaluated by committees of experts as well as spectators.
Golden Hockey Stick
This gala hockey evening announces the results of the hockey inquiry for the best Czech hockey player of the year. The stars of the sports and artistic world participate in this event. You can see them both in the auditorium as well as on the stage.
Karlovy Vary City Triathlon
The Czech Republic Championships in the sprint triathlon and Olympic triathlon take place in the city center. The start of the competition is at the Rolava open air pool. The biking part leads through the entire city to the Thermal Hotel. After putting the bikes away, the competitors run a few laps to the Mill Colonnade and back.
Fresh Film Fest
Fresh Film Fest is another international film contest organized in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). Unlike the IFF, this is a competition for promising student films. More than two hundred films are screened during the festival. The event has also an accompanying program.
Karlovy Vary Folklore Festival
Dance, singing, and theater are the main program of the International Meeting of Folklore Artists. Ensembles from Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc. participate on a regular basis. Besides the individual performances, the event also includes a parade through the city and a folklore trade market.
Dvořák Autumn in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
This festival in honor of the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák takes place throughout September. The festival in cooperation with the Karlovy vary Symphony Orchestra takes place annually since 1959.
The International Festival of Tourism Films annually gives awards to films, spots, internet presentations, etc., which help to develop this industry.
Jazzfest Karlovy Vary
Jazzfest is not only limited to jazz as it might seem from its name. You can hear also swing, blues, gospel, and other types of music at various places throughout the city. Concerts at Vřídelní kolonáda (the Thermal Spring Colonnade) are a traditional part of the festival.
Here is a selection of hotels that we recommend. If you are interested in any of these hotels or you have a specific idea about another hotel of your choice, please fill in our short questionaire, or contact us and we will prepare a non-binding offer for you according to your wishes and requirements.
In case of interest please fill in our short questionaire, or contact us and we will prepare a non-binding offer for you according to your wishes and requirements.