Our stay in Františkovy Lázně – competition with Karlovy Vary

Our stay in Františkovy Lázně – competition with Karlovy Vary

On the way to the South Bohemian Aleš Gallery to the exhibition “Metamorphoses” with works by HR Giger, we had planned an overnight stop in Františkovy Lázně, probably the oldest of the Czech seaside resorts.

We had heard too often about the fashionable, once so popular Czech spas, which were visited by emperors and kings to maintain their health, their creativity and for cures and which are still used by many guests today. Accordingly, the public image of such a seaside resort is antiquated, which we wanted to check at least once. After checking into the hotel, we immediately went on a first tour of the city of Františkovy Lázně.

Historical spa facilities of Franzensbad

franzensbad 1What's striking immediately after reaching the centre: the cityscape is characterized by ensembles of 19th century buildings, most of which are in Schönbrunner Palace yellow and stucco white, as well as really spacious parks for long walks. The predominant stylistic eras are classicism, the Empire style associated with it and the Belle Époque; you almost feel like you have been transported back to the Danube Monarchy.

The spa district begins in the northern area of the city park at the Stanislaus Spring, where there is a monument in honour of the inventor of the Esperanto language, the Pole Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof. To the east of it, the Kollárova boulevard with the Mozart, Beethoven and Esplanade bathhouses closes off the city park. What is striking is the large number of guests who visit the various buildings and their springs with their drinking cups in their hands.

The Františkovy Lázně medicinal springs and bathhouses

franzensbad 2The other historical spa facilities of Františkovy Lázně extend west and southeast of the Náměsti Míru square with a monumental fountain from 1962, a music pavilion and the New Colonnades with shops that replaced a previous building from 1912. The Františkovy Lázně medicinal springs and bathhouses are spread over a spacious park with centuries-old trees.

To the west are the Lázně bathhouse, which was built in 1828 and expanded several times, as well as the pavilion named after the daughter of Francis II, Marie-Louise of Austria, Louisenquelle (1827), which contains the second oldest spring in Františkovy Lázně, discovered in 1806. Next to it is the cold spring, which was discovered in 1817 and fed into the Louisenquelle.

Women who want to have children should touch the “best piece” of the sculpture

franzensbad 3The heart of the spa district is the spa's oldest spring, the Franzensquelle, which is covered with a pavilion with Doric columns (1793). A little south of it are the Glaubersalz springs 3 and 4 (11.5 °C, discovered in 1921, at 52.9 and 92.6 m depth respectively), the Neue Kirchenquelle (14 °C, discovered in 1999, at 63 m depth) and the Neue Quelle (discovered in 1849, at a depth of 40 m).

The symbolic figure of the bath was the statuette of “Franzl” (“František”) with a fish on a ball, created in 1923 by the master potter Karl Mayerl, father of the sculptor Adolf Mayerl, which is considered a symbol of fertility.

Tradition holds that women who want to have children who touch the “best piece” of the sculpture should become pregnant within a year. The original statue, which was replaced by a copy, is kept in the Municipal Museum.

Goethe was often a spa guest in the city

franzensbad 4At the eastern end of the Isabellenpromenade, which is lined with classicist villas, are the Salty Spring and the Wiesenquelle, also named Adler's Spring after the doctor Bernhard Adler, who is commemorated by a monument in front of the Wiesenquelle.

A bathhouse from 1880 surrounds the Nátalie, Herkules and Stěpánka springs.

The so-called Imperial Baths, named in 1864 after the most prominent visitor to the spa town, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, was built on the initiative of the doctor Paul Cartellieri, who created two new springs, Zelezitý and the Cartellieris named after him, on the site of today's spa parks.

franzensbad 8On the southern edge of the park there is a viewing tower from 1906 in the form of an artificial castle ruin, the Salingburg, from which you can overlook the spa facilities. At the eastern end of the park is the Goethe monument; Goethe was often a spa guest in the city.

The America local recreation area, named after a pond with this name, in a sparse forest area southwest of the town and spa centre with an amphitheater, sports facilities and other springs (Glauber 1 + 2, Sonnenquelle) offers excursion restaurants, campsites, swimming areas and a zoo.

Some of the ponds in this forest area are part of a nature reserve with breeding grounds for waterfowl and are used for fish farming.

Surroundings of Františkovy Lázně

franzensbad 5The Soos nature reserve is located 6 km northeast of the spa, 2200 m long and around 1400 m wide.

It is a peat and mineral meadow bog with gas escaping from Mofetten. The move against Carlsbad, to undermine the idea behind the moor in Soos that Carlsbad had acquired by having the municipality of Franzensbad buy up all the surrounding land and thus prevent access to the moor, also came from the pen of Franzensbad mayor Gustav Loimann.

The Sooser Moor is still owned by the city of Franzensbad today. 10 km northwest, next to the road to Aš, is the natural monument Goethova skalka (Goethe Rocks, 670 m) with picturesque quartz rocks. To the southwest lies the extinct volcano “Kammerbühl”, where Goethe carried out studies.

„Empty stomach“can become a problem

franzensbad 7Let's summarize: Anyone who likes spa resorts of this type will certainly get their money's worth, especially since some hotels are equipped with a pool so that you can also have private bathing fun. Booking massages, saunas, etc. at short notice was also no problem.

But, and this has to happen now: It may have been because the main season was over or because all meals take place in the hotels, so it turned out to be a real problem to be able to eat somewhere in the evening. Sometimes everything was already over and the shop closed at 5 p.m., sometimes it had to be booked in advance, sometimes it was just completely closed.

It's a shame, because where do you go with your spa shadow? Well, that wasn't our problem. We were just hungry.

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Life | Outdoors