History and the Present
Františkovy Lázně (German: Franzensbad) was founded on 27 April 1793 as the Village of Emperor Franz and in 1807, it was officially named Františkovy Lázně (English: Franz's Spa). The spa is named after Franz I, Emperor of Austria, who is considered as its founder.
The initially rural spa with a single spring known as Františkův pramen (Franz's Spring), a wooden colonnade, a few spa houses and a Social House soon became one of the most sought-after European spa resorts.
The original village with lanes and the present-day Národní třída (National Avenue) serving as the spa promenade was broadened by three parallel streets to form a town layout. In order to achieve a genuine spa ambience, the current historical centre was surrounded by a wide belt of English parks that were to change the village into a garden town. All newly-built streets lead along the green belt, creating one of the most enchanting spa resorts in Europe – a spa embraced by a sea of parks and forest parks.
In 1865, Emperor Franz Josef I. raised Františkovy Lázně to the status of a town. After connecting to the railway network in Saxony, Bavaria and Bohemia, the spa became a truly world resort and during its golden days before World War I, it was annually visited by up to 20,000 patients and almost 80,000 so-called “passer-by’s” – spa tourists. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, staying at the spa at least once in a year became quite fashionable among the high society.
After World War II, the spa complex was nationalised and a single state-owned enterprise almost equal in size to the town itself was founded under the name Československé státní lázně a zřídla (Czechoslovak State Spas and Springs). Using the contemporary language, the spa served the working people and only a small number of foreign clients. The good level of medical care provided by physicians and medical staff was retained, however, the therapeutic facilities and spa houses were only renovated, and the development of the spa stagnated.
In 1991, the majority of the therapeutic facilities were taken over by the joint-stock company Lázně Františkovy Lázně, a.s., which introduced a comprehensive plan of the reconstruction of all spa houses, as well as its concept of returning Františkovy Lázně among the world spa resorts.
A similarly challenging plan was set out by the town management and today, newly-opened pensions and therapeutic facilities are being successfully run by private entrepreneurs.
In 1992, Františkovy Lázně was declared an urban monument reserve and this began a completely new chapter of the history of the spa town.
The actual history of Františkovy Lázně began long before its foundation. In the Middle Ages, girls earning their livelihood as water carriers brought water from Františkův pramen (Franz's Spring) to the nearby town of Cheb where people drank it as table water.
Later, its curative effects were discovered by physicians and the spring became the most sought-after curative water in Europe. In those times, an illness was perceived as inundation of the human body by poisonous liquids. Contemporary doctors believed that it was necessary to eliminate these liquids from the body by bleeding or by literally washing them away with mineral water containing salt and sulphur, which bind harmful substances. Drinking cures combined with promenades by the spring and purification baths thus laid the foundations for the spa and its golden age.
In this spirit, Franz's Spring was used as a cure for almost all diseases, especially for female infertility. Mud baths utilising the local high-quality iron sulphate peat and baths using natural carbon dioxide emanations soon became popular in Františkovy Lázně.
Current balneological treatment is based on traditional, scientifically attested treatment methods. Diseases treated in Františkovy Lázně embrace heart and blood circulation diseases, diseases of the locomotive organs, and gynaecological diseases, including infertility. Treatment with the aid of natural resources comprises peat-mud baths, peat-mud wraps, dry carbon baths, gas injections, and carbon baths.
As in the past, the ambience of Františkovy Lázně contributes in a way to the overall success of the treatment – all the paths lead through parks, the spa houses are decorated with flowers, visitors are surrounded by peace and tranquillity as if in a different time dimension.
The Symbol of Františkovy Lázně
The symbol of Františkovy Lázně is a statue of a boy with a fish. After the war, the originally park statue created in 1924 by a native sculptor, Adolf Mayerl, was placed in front of Společenský dům (Social House) where it became a popular object of photographs, especially among female patients.
To make František (as the statue is called among locals) even more popular, Mr. Škarda, a spa photographer, made up one of the nicest legends in Bohemia – according to the legend, every female patients who touches the left leg of the statue will become pregnant.
Today, you may find the original statue at the town museum and its, as popular copy, in front of the Social House.