Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary is in western Bohemia, about 130 km (81 miles) from Prague.  The original town was founded around 1350 but it was granted city status in 1370 by Charles IV, whom the city was renamed after.

With a population of almost 50,000 people it is the 21st largest city in Czechland.  But don't let size fool you, this is one of the most popular destinations in the country.  With 13 main springs around 300 smaller springs, this is the most visited spa town in Czech Republic.

This is a beautiful fairy tale town.  Not only is it famous for its hot springs, believed to have curative properties, but it is also the home of Becherovka.
Uncle Dale and his oplatky

Every year the city also hosts one of Europe's most importanta international film festivals.  And you can't come to a spa town and not have Czech spa wafers which originated here in 1867.

The sandstone obelisk was unveiled in 1804 in honor of the Scottish Lord James Ogilvy, Earl of Findlater.  Between 1793 and 1810, he stayed at the spa 14 times.  He loved the city so much that funded the building and enlargement of several promenades.

This monument shows where a synagogue was destroyed in 1938. 

The High Baroque Church of St. Mary Magdalene was consecrated in 1737.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and St. Paul opened in 1898.  It was modeled on an old Russian Byzantine church near Moscow.

The Hot Spring is the warmest spring in Karlovy Vary.  It can shoot 2,000 litres (528 gallons) up 12 meters (39 feet) high in one minute. The mineral water is 72 °C (162 °F).

Inside the Hot Spring Colonnade, there are five other spring outputs where you can fill a cup and try different waters.  The different springs have different temperatures and levels of sulfur.

Grandhotel Pupp
The Grandhotel Pupp is a 228-room luxury hotel which opened in 1701.  The hotel was used in the films Last Holiday and Casino Royale

After the war, the communist government nationalized the hotel and in 1950 it was renamed the Grandhotel Moskva.  In 1989 the original name was restored and the hotel has since been privatized.

In one of the parks is a monument for the American soldiers who liberated the city in 1945.  The monument looks new so I'm guessing that it wasn't around during socialist times.

Everyone has told me how beautiful Karlovy Vary is and I'm sure it must look magical in winter, covered in snow.  Everyone has also told me that Karlovy Vary is a Russian city as most of the shop signs and advertisements are in Czech and Russian.  Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Karlovy Vary has become a favorite spa destination for Russians with regular direct flights between Moscow and Karlovy Vary.
Karl Marx monument

The city is more expensive then your typical Czech city.  You can tell that prices have been set for rich Russian tourists.  There are so many Russians here that there is even a Russian consulate here.  But what was odd for me is that across the street from the consulate is a statue of Karl Marx.

Here's a video from 2011 that I found out on YouTube which talks about the Russians in Karlovy Vary.  

©Deutsche Welle

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