Mariánské Lázně (German: Marienbad) is a town in the district of Cheb in the Karlovy Vary Region, 27 km southeast of Cheb. The city has an area of 51.78 km2. Approximately 13,000 inhabitants live here. Mariánské Lázně is the youngest of the famous triangle of West Bohemian spa towns.
History of spa
The place where today the second largest spa town in Bohemia, Mariánské Lázně, lies, was in ancient times full of swamps and completely desolate.
The nobleman Hroznata founded the Premonstratensian monastery in the settlement of Teplá in 1197, under whose administration the territory of today's spa also belonged. The monks were also the first to notice a salt spring in their forests and even tried to obtain salt by evaporation. This salt was later successfully sold as a laxative.
Meanwhile, various rumors began to circulate about the healing effects of the mineral waters, and the first patients headed for the springs. The monastery officials then had the springs cleaned and the path to them adjusted. However, the first attempts to establish a spa failed. The locals did not trust the spa. During the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, the mineral waters were analyzed again and in this period the name Marienbad also appears for the first time.
Dr. Johann Josef Nehr - a monastery physician who significantly persuaded the abbot and several monks to try the spa treatment in 1779 - significantly contributed to the establishment of the spa. He then found that a small amount of water given several times a day adjusted digestion, stimulated the appetite, and brought the abbot and the monks a refreshing sleep. However, the monastery had to fight for obtaining the necessary permits for the construction of a spa building until 1786. In 1812, Marienbad was separated as an independent municipality from the existing village of Úšovice and in 1818 it gained the status of a spa.
The name Marienbad was named after the first spa building built at Maria's spring. This spring was called Smradlavý long before due to its pungent odor, but it got its present name from the Marian painting, which was allegedly attached to the spring by a soldier returning from the war as a thank you for healing his wounds here. The further development of the spa was due to the abbot of Teplá, Karel Kašpar Reitenberger, who began the construction of spa houses and pavilions at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1820, the German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe visited Mariánské Lázně, who visited here twice more and in 1823 spent his late love novel with the young noblewoman Ulrika von Levetzow. He was very enthusiastic about the local natural conditions and encouraged Abbot Reitenberger not to slow down in the construction of spa houses. He also advised local doctors to promote modern treatment methods in addition to traditional spa care. Goethe's presence in Mariánské Lázně had a very positive impact on attendance. The spa began to be visited by wealthier clients.
The opera composer Richard Wagner found peace and inspiration in Mariánské Lázně. He worked here on two important operas, namely Lohengrin (in the summer of 1845) and the Master Singers of Nuremberg.
In 1897, the future British monarch Edward VII visited Mariánské Lázně for the first time. It is not known what decided the prince visited this spa. However, on his first visit, Eduard, who appeared under the title of Duke of Lancaster, fell in love with Mariánské Lázně and visited here a total of nine times. The British king turned the world's attention to Mariánské Lázně, which changed every season to accommodate an increasing number of guests. Most of the buildings were rebuilt and expanded during this period, and new hotels were constantly opening.
Mariánské Lázně has also become the scene of several political negotiations. In September 1899, decisions were made on matters prior to the Boer War in South Africa. On August 16, 1904, Emperor Francis Joseph I and British King Edward VII met at the Nové Lázně Hotel for an official meeting. In the following years, negotiations took place here between Britain and Russia or Bulgaria. King Edward VII died in 1910, followed by the First World War and further development of the spa was suspended.
After the First World War and the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the guests returned to the spa. The rapid growth of traffic attracted more visitors and the spa had to solve accommodation problems. Soon, however, came the economic crisis, which stopped further development of the city. Fortunately, the Second World War almost saved the city and so the spa character of the city was preserved. During the so-called Crystal Night in 1938, the Jewish synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis. The land after the destroyed synagogue on Hlavní třída has remained empty to this day.
After the post-war expulsion of the German population and the change of population, Mariánské Lázně became partly a dilapidated town. A more significant turnaround took place after 1989, and since then great progress has been made in the field of building revitalization. An important former hotel, such as the Lesní mlýn hotel (later the ROH Donbas sanatorium) with a tradition dating back to 1833, which was acquired by new owners on 8 August 2018 after years of decay and changes of owners, who immediately began reconstruction and partially opened the building. However, some historic spa buildings remain abandoned to this day, such as the Caucasus Spa Complex in Goethe Square, home to King Edward VII of Britain. In the case of the architecturally significant Hotel Halbmayr Haus (later Rozkvět) built on Mírové náměstí, after a long period of decay, the building burned down in 2014 and was demolished the following year.