Legend of the Foundation of Karlovy Vary
The foundation of Karlovy Vary was described in the writings of many more or less famous authors. We can learn more about the legend recorded by the Renaissance physician Dr. Fabian Sommer, a native of Karlovy Vary, in his book on the taking of Karlovy Vary waters in 1571:
"It is said that Charles IV once went hunting in the woods spread out over the hills and valleys where today the hot springs gush forth. The woods abounded in wildfowl and game. During the hunt, one of the hounds went chasing after game. As it was coursing its prey, the hound fell into a pool where hot water gushes out like a fountain today. The hound started howling with pain. The hunters who heard the dog howling rushed towards it thinking the hound must have been wounded by the coursed game. However, what they saw left them bewildered though. They stepped closer and after pulling the hound from the pool, they tasted the hot water that had terrified the dog. Emperor Charles IV was advised of the event and escorted by a large entourage, set out to the site to admire this remarkable work of nature. In the presence of his doctors, the wise sovereign observed that such hot water could ward off many severe illnesses and that it was indeed beneficial and cordial. He then took the water himself (it is said he was suffering from an ailing leg) and experienced relief and improvement. The wise sovereign rejoiced at the beneficial effects and ordered the foundation of a settlement in the area and the building of houses around the spring. Resources indicate that the place where the Emperor had taken the waters was located on the site of the former town baths, where the town hall now stands. A spring rises to the earth's surface near the town hall however the water does not gush forth and it is only tepid. It is said that a seat cut into a rock used to stand by the spring many centuries ago, on which the sovereign had sat, and it was therefore known as the Seat of the Emperor Charles.
Nonetheless, the place has long disappeared and the town hall was built on the site. After being destroyed by a flood, Emperor Charles ordered the building of a new town. He wanted to protect the town with a wall, yet his plans were thwarted by other urgent matters. Many remains of fortification walls that can still be seen today below the Deer Rock bear witness that the story is true. Numerous collapsed cellarage arches can also be found at the Deer Rock. Elder inhabitants claim that Emperor Charles intended to build a castle on the rock that would protect Karlovy Vary. Even the name of the town commemorates the name of its founder – it is known as Emperor Charles Baths, Karlovy Vary."
The precise date of the foundation of the town remains unknown. The first permanent settlement by Vřídlo (Hot Spring) dates back to 1350. In 1370, Charles IV bestowed the privileges of a free royal town upon Karlovy Vary. As in the past, the most renowned Czech spa is a popular gathering place of people from all over the world and as such, Karlovy Vary successfully continues in the tradition that was begun centuries ago during the reign of the wise King Charles IV.