The Legend about the discovery of the Hot Spring and foundation of Karlovy Vary
It is said that Charles IV set out hunting from the nearby castle of Loket and ended up in this region with its hills and valleys with hot springs. The local forests were rich in deer. During the hunt one of the dogs started to chase a stag. During the chase the dog fell into a pool of spring water. The dog started to howl with pain. Hunters who heard the dog yowling rushed to him thinking that he was hurt. They approached the dog, pulled him out of the pool and tasted the hot water that had scared the dog so much. When the Emperor was told about the place, he set out to explore this remarkable feat of nature. The wise ruler and his doctors realised that the hot water might help to cure many illnesses and that it could be useful and invigorating. The Emperor started using the water himself. It is said that he had problems with his leg and used to bathe it in the water. Soon his pain ceased and his condition improved. The Emperor was overjoyed and ordered a settlement to be constructed and houses to be built around the spring. The new town commemorated its founder in its name - the hot baths of Emperor Charles, Karlovy Vary. There are several variations of this legend. The so-called Jeleni skok (Stag's Jump) has become a local attraction and the stag together with the springs became the symbol of the town.
The spa treatment in Karlovy Vary used to revolve around bathing till about the turn of the 16th century. Drinking cures started to be promoted by Doctor Vaclav Payer who published his first specialist book on the treatment in Karlovy Vary in 1522. Apart from bathing in the water he also recommended drinking the spring water. Drinking cures started to prevail over bathing from the 17th century.
Of major importance for the modernisation of Karlovy Vary balneology was the work of Dr. David Becher (1725-1792) who was the most prominent doctor in the town. Becher introduced a number of new therapeutic methods (drinking the water by the springs, walking becoming a part of the therapy, a balance between drinking the water and bathing in it etc), and he also contributed to the development of Karlovy Vary.
The last third of the 19th century saw large scale construction works and the erection of modern spa buildings. The construction work of the time helped to shape the present historicism and Art Nouveau appearance of the town. This was the fourth reconstruction of Karlovy Vary in its history and the beauty created then can be still admired today.
The generosity and importance of wealthy visitors coming to Karlovy Vary in the 19th century enabled a large extension of walking routes in the spa surroundings. Karlovy Vary experienced its golden age until the beginning of WWI. It used to be referred to as the sanatorium of Europe.
The most famous of Czech spas, Karlovy Vary has remained a popular meeting place for people from around the world and it continues in its tradition of a spa town started all those hundreds of years ago during the reign of wise King Charles IV.
The cosmopolitan nature of Karlovy Vary and the reputation of its healing springs give us firm hope that the spa town will remain, apart from Prague, the best known and most visited town in the Czech Republic in the times to come.