Balneology and Spa Resorts
The History of Spa Treatment
The spas in the Karlovy Vary Region have helped people to attain a good quality of life.
Exploitable natural healing resources are randomly scattered all over the world. Spa treatment as offered in the Czech Republic, when people staying in a spa are provided with medical care, is typically European. The tradition of spa treatment in the Czech and Moravian lands is significantly younger than in southern Europe and Mediterranean countries; nevertheless our spas have become renowned all over the world.
Mineral waters found in the Czech massif are usually carbonized waters, so-called acidulous waters. In Karlovy Vary there is also thermal water, i.e. water with a temperature above 20° C, and quite often the temperature is as high as 73°C.
The highest concentration of spa towns in the Czech Republic is the West Bohemian spa region covering most of the Karlovy Vary region. One can find 5 important spa centres there: Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne, Frantiskovy Lazne, Lazne Jachymov and Lazne Kynzvart.
In the distant past the water was also used for personal hygiene, for pleasure and for rejuvenation. Early tubs used for bathing were found in Crete and the first bathrooms were introduced in Ancient Rome. These places are also connected with the roots of spa treatment that was later introduced to northern Europe and Bohemia. The original therapeutic procedures were quite drastic. First, these were purely bathing procedures. Ever since the 14th century prolonged bathing in hot mineral water was recommended, sometimes for a period of up to 10-12 hours. This caused the skin to chap so that illnesses could be flushed out of the body. Since the 16th century doctors started recommending drinking the mineral water. The period of long baths was replaced by another quantitative extreme, namely the drinking of heroic amounts of mineral water. This reached its peak in the 18th century when patients drank up to 50 cups of water a day, 6-8 litres of water. The sulphate of sodium in the water caused diarrhoea which was supposed to cleanse the organism.
The boom of spa treatment, based on scientific findings and long term experience, came in the 19th century and many of the applications from that time are used in modern spa treatment today. The present day visitors and patients of our spas do not have to undergo the brutal and exhausting therapeutic methods used in the past. The current level of spa treatment in the Czech Republic is one of the best in the world. It has been developed in compliance with long term experience and scientific methods and it has been applied by top specialist therapists, highly qualified doctors, balneologists, and professional medical staff.