hidden europe 56

Bohemian Waters

by hidden europe

Picture above: A combination of well-kept parks and elegant buildings make Mariánské Lázně instantly appealing (photo © hidden europe).


Here's a hidden europe briefing for first-time visitors to the Czech spa towns. Often referred to as the spa triangle, north-west Bohemia actually has more than just three spa towns.

Each of the spa towns in the north-west corner of Bohemia has its own devotees. Karlovy Vary (formerly Karlsbad) is by far the grandest and the largest of the spa towns and its traditional attention to health and healing is tempered by more worldly diversions, notably shopping. There is a quiet drama in the setting of the spa quarter of Karlovy Vary and those not averse to steep climbs will find fine walking on the surrounding hills. Those less keen on an uphill slog can take the funicular.

Františkovy Lázně (one-time Franzensbad) is also a popular choice. It is tiny, picture-perfect, and has a nice line in erotic sculptures — appropriate, perhaps, as one of the town’s medical specialisms is fertility treatment. It is probably the community Milan Kundera had in mind when he wrote his 1972 novel Valčík na rozloučenou (literally The Farewell Waltz but translated into English as The Farewell Party). The appeal of Františkovy Lázně is its otherworldly feel. It is, we find, the perfect place to do absolutely nothing.

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