Karlovy Vary

 

 

Karlovy Vary (German: Karlsbad, Hebrew and Yiddish קרלסבאד) is a regional and statutory city in western Bohemia, in the Karlovy Vary region, 110 km west of Prague at the confluence of the Ohře and Teplá rivers. Approximately 48,000 inhabitants live here. The area of the cadastre is 59.10 km². The glass and food industries are developed here, among others. It is the most visited Czech spa town.

 

History

The place where the center of Karlovy Vary was established remained out of the interest of the population for a long time. Steep slopes and unsuitable climatic conditions at the thermal springs did not provide suitable conditions for growing crops, which were crucial for settlement. The first settlements were located more in today's suburbs.

The exact date of the city's founding is unknown. The permanent settlement around Vřídlo was established in the middle of the 14th century. In 1370, the city was granted by Charles IV. privileges of the royal city. The legend of the founding of Karlovy Vary, recorded in 1571 by Dr. Fabian Summer, says that a hunting dog began to hunt a piece of wildlife during an expedition in the woods, falling into the pool of a rapidly gushing spring with hot water. The groaning of the dog summoned the other members of the expedition, who then tasted the hot water. Charles IV was also informed about the find, who went to the place of the spring. Together with the doctors present, he stated that this hot water has healing effects, which he subsequently tested himself and improved. He then founded a spa called Teplé lázně u Lokte on the site of the alleged spring.

The city initially had only a small population, whose most important task was to take care of the springs. Karlovy Vary initially developed at a slow pace. The Hussite wars did not affect the city in any way, because it was not perceived as strategically important. The city slowly began to get rich from the gradually developing spa. However, growth was hampered by several disasters that hit the city. In 1582, a flood broke through the city and in 1609 a devastating fire destroyed 99 houses out of 102. The subsequent rapid growth was interrupted by the Thirty Years' War, which reduced the population and the number of spa guests. The end of the 17th century begins to grow again in the city. Important European personalities are beginning to visit Karlovy Vary. The city began to grow with new buildings (such as the theater or the Saxon and Czech halls, which became the basis for the Grandhotel Pupp, etc.). In 1759, the city was destroyed by flames again. Thanks to its fame, however, the city recovered relatively quickly from the fire. In a way, the Napoleonic Wars benefited the city. Thanks to their sufficient distance from the battlefields, they attracted visitors to the famous spa towns of Western Europe. The architectural transformation to Art Nouveau at the end of the 19th century is largely due to the Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, who designed 20 important buildings in the city. In the years 1870–1871, the city was connected with Cheb and Prague by rail, which was later followed by regional connections.

The development of the city was ruined by the First World War, after which it was no longer possible to build on such extensive growth. The city of Nazism became the center of significant events. The local bookseller K. H. Frank became the leader of the Karlovy Vary Sudeten German Party, later he was the second most powerful man in the party. On April 24, 1938, Konrád Henlein presented the so-called eight Karlovy Vary demands in the city, which meant the disintegration of Czechoslovakia. In October of the same year, Karlovy Vary became part of the Third Reich. At the end of World War II, the town (especially the local part of Rybář) was hit by bombing. The end of the war was also accompanied by the forced displacement of the original German population. During the era of socialism, several important buildings were erected in the city center, such as the Vřídelní Colonnade, the Thermal Hotel, etc. The period after 1989 is characterized by the entry of Russian capital, which also affects the appearance of the city. According to research by Russian activist Mikhail Maglov, who looked at property relations through an analysis of the local real estate cadastre, "up to half" of local real estate is owned by citizens of the Russian Federation and other countries of the former Soviet Union.