Celebrities in the Region
Some of them appeared in the region only for a short moment, others were attracted to raw beauty of the western part of Bohemia so much that they were fond of coming back or even staying here for several years.
|Among the celebrities who left their indelible imprints in the history of the Karlovy Vary Region, a prominent place belongs to Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the prince of poets. Goethe. He fell in love especially with Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), which he visited for a total of thirteen times within 1785 – 1823. In Vary he spent almost 3 years of his life and the town was an inspiration for many of his literary works. Goethe often went on trips to Loket, Andělská hora (Angel Mountain), Horní Slavkov and Jáchymov. He was also charmed by Mariánské Lázně. At one time, the poet even considered settling in Karlovy Vary for ever, in the house called Zlatá studna (Golden Well) close to the Grandhotel Pupp. Current visitors to the spa of Karlovy Vary meet up with Goethe’s name at every turn; they find it on commemorative plaques, and even one of the most beautiful spa walks is named the Goethe’s Path.|
|Fryderyk Chopin, an ingenious musician, visited especially Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) and Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) in our region. In Bohemia he appeared four times, and remembrance of him is still vividly alive. In 1959 the Fryderyk Chopin Society was created. It nourishes the composer’s cultural inheritance and initiated the creation of the Chopin Memorial which was established in Mariánské Lázně. Mariánské Lázně also hosts musicians and artists arriving at the annual August Fryderyk Chopin Festival that is not only a celebration of music, but is also accompanied by fine arts exhibitions, as Chopin had many friends among the graphic artists.|
|Albrecht z Valdštejna (Albrecht von Wallenstein), a Bohemian nobleman and warrior, belongs to the personalities of our history having conflicting descriptions. He is designated as a traitor and as a hero at the same time. In 1625 he was appointed the as the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Army and became Duke of Friedland. His military achievements and power earned him the Sweden’s and France’s offer of alliance and assistance in his gaining the Bohemian throne. Valdštejn refused this offer, nevertheless, the well-informed Ferdinand II of the Habsburg Monarchy, Holy Roman Emperor, released him from the command of the Imperial Army and declared him a traitor. On the 25th of February, 1634 Valdštejn was assassinated by his own people in Cheb (Eger), where he was probably going to enter into agreement with the Swedes. |
|Božena Němcová, one of the most outstanding personalities of the cultural life in Bohemia in the middle of the 19th century, stayed in Františkovy Lázně (Franzensbad) in 1846. She was twenty-six at that time and was undergoing an unhappy marriage with a financial commissar of the customs Josef Němec. It is obvious from her correspondence that Františkovy Lázně was a great choice for the exhausted young woman to relax, and a good source of inspiration for her works. She described the spa environment, as well as its society composition in her feuilletons.|
|František Josef I. (Franz Joseph I), the next-to-the-last Emperor of Austria, had a significant influence on the development of Mariánské Lázně. He visited the town twice. For the first time in 1847, as a young Archduke with his brothers; for the second time in 1904, as Emperor, when he met Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom there. In 1865 he granted Mariánské Lázně the statute of a city.|
|Karel IV. (Charles IV), one of the greatest Bohemian sovereigns, who raised the lands of the Bohemia to the level of countries in the most advanced parts of Europe, had a very close relationship to our region. A well-known legend says that while hunting a deer, Charles IV discovered hot springs and decided to found a town there. However, serious research into the history of the region has confirmed the fact that people lived in the area of later Karlovy Vary as early as in the 13th century and probably knew about the curative effects of thermal waters. In 1370 Charles IV granted the local settlement of that time the rights and freedoms that were possessed, in its vicinity, only by the royal city of Loket. It was a frequent destination of the King’s visits. Charles IV went hunting in the surroundings of Loket as well as carried out his statesman duties here. In 1370 the monarch founded Kraslice (Graslitz), the mining town, where copper, silver and lead ores were extracted. Many monumental sites remind us of the visits of Charles IV to our region. For example, one of four lookout towers surrounding Karlovy Vary bears his name. |
|Marie Curie-Sklodowska, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for her work in physics and chemistry, was charmed by the Jáchymov pitchblende, from which she managed, in cooperation with her husband Pierre Curie, to separate the elements polonium and radium. Thanks to the initiative of the Jáchymov Chief Governor she received the necessary quantity of ore for her research and in 1925 she visited Jáchymov herself. She was actively interested in local therapies and her observations contributed to improvement of the curative procedures. Work with the Jáchymov pitchblende proved fatal to her; in 1934 she succumbed to a sickness caused by radiation in Paris. |
|Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first President of the Czechoslovak Republic, a writer, philosopher and statesman, was fond of utilising the Jáchymov spa’s offer of curative treatments specialized in diseases of the locomotive organs. He visited the town seven times all together; he even celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1930 here.|
|Karel Čapek, a Czech writer, stayed in the Karlovy Vary Region in 1917, when he worked five months as a private tutor in the family of Count Lažanský at the chateau in Chyše by Žlutice. Working duties in the Chyše Chateau kept him so busy that he could not devote his time to translation of French poets, which he was planning to do. The stay in Chyše inspired him while working on the novel Krakatit, in which the chateau is mentioned. The novel Věc Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair) is said to have its inspiration roots in one of the regional legends. |
|Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer, poet and playwright, fell in love with Boží Dar and its surroundings and spent two years (1929–30, and 1931-32) there. He lived in the settlement Myslivna u Božího Daru in the Filip Krause’s house, and found tranquillity for his work and especially the dreamt-of solitude here. Boží Dar now reminds us of Nikos Kazantzakis’s stay here.|
Naturally, there are many more celebrities who visited the Karlovy Vary Region; therefore we have addressed PhDr. Stanislav Burachovič, historian of the Karlovy Vary Regional Museum, who has chosen more than forty famous visitors to the region. Besides the above-mentioned celebrities, they are, for example, the Russian Tsar Peter I the Great, Italian violin virtuosi Niccolò Paganini, Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purkyně, German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, Czech explorer Emil Holub, Austrian psychotherapist Sigmund Freud, German poet Friedrich Schiller and many others.