Come with us and visit Karlovy Vary, the best known spa town in the Czech Republic.
Karlovy Vary (more familiar in the past in its German form, Karlsbad), the leading Czech spa, straggles along the beautiful narrow valley of the Teplá at its junction with the Ohře. (The main spa area is closed to traffic.)
Karlovy Vary was probably founded in 1348 by the Emperor Charles IV, who is said to have discovered the hot springs while hunting in the area; in fact, however, there is evidence that the springs were already known. Until the early 16th century the water was used only for bathing; there-after it was also used for drinking. The first bath-house of some size was built in 1762. Karlsbad became, particularly during the 19th century, a fashionable resort frequented by an international clientele, including many famous figures.
Karlovy Vary owes its international fame to its mineral springs. Altogether there are about 60 springs, but only twelve of them (with a daily flow of 6 million litres/1.3 million gallons of alkaline water containing Glauber salt) are used. The springs differ only in temperature (ranging from 42° C/180° F to 73° C to/163° F) and in their greater or lesser content (depending on temperature) of free carbonic acid. The powerful healing effect of the water is the result of the high concentration (7 grams per litre/491 grains per gallon) of 32-35 different minerals in solution. The water is drunk in association with diet and exercise regimes and is used for bathing. It is particularly effective in the treatment of disorders of the liver and gall bladder and disease of the stomach and intestines.
The springs emerge from the ancient granite rocks of the Teplá valley; the Sprudel spring comes from a layer of sinter, into which several bore-holes (which must be re-bored every year because of incrustations deposited by the water) reach down to a depth of only a few metres.
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