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Karlovy Vary
Aerial view of Karlovy Vary
Aerial view of Karlovy Vary
Flag of Karlovy Vary
Coat of arms of Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary is located in Czech Republic
Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 50°13′50″N 12°52′21″E / 50.23056°N 12.87250°E / 50.23056; 12.87250
Country Czech Republic
RegionKarlovy Vary
DistrictKarlovy Vary
Founded around1349
 • MayorAndrea Pfeffer Ferklová (ANO)
 • Total59.08 km2 (22.81 sq mi)
447 m (1,467 ft)
 • Total45,500
 • Density770/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
360 01
Part ofThe Great Spa Towns of Europe
CriteriaCultural: (ii)(iii)
Inscription2021 (44th Session)

Karlovy Vary (Czech pronunciation: [ˈkarlovɪ ˈvarɪ] (listen); German: Karlsbad, formerly also spelled Carlsbad in English) is a spa city in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 46,000 inhabitants. It lies on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá. It is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia, who founded the city.

Karlovy Vary is the site of numerous hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River), and is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic.[2] The historic city centre with the spa cultural landscape is well preserved and is protected by law as an urban monument reservation. It is the largest spa complex in Europe.[3] In 2021, the city became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name "Great Spa Towns of Europe" because of its spas and architecture from the 18th through 20th centuries.[4][5]

Administrative parts

Karlovy Vary is made up of 15 city parts and villages:

  • Karlovy Vary
  • Bohatice
  • Čankov
  • Cihelny
  • Doubí
  • Drahovice
  • Dvory
  • Hůrky
  • Olšová Vrata
  • Počerny
  • Rosnice
  • Rybáře
  • Sedlec
  • Stará Role
  • Tašovice

Cihelny forms an exclave of the municipal territory.


The city is named after its founder. The name Karlovy Vary means literally "Charles' Baths". The city was also colloquially called Warmbad ("hot bath").[6]


Karlovy Vary is located about 106 kilometres (66 mi) west of Prague. It lies at the confluence of the Ohře (which flows across the city) with the Teplá and Rotava rivers.

The northern part of the municipal territory with most of the built-up area lies in a relatively flat landscape of the Sokolov Basin. The southern part, including the valley of the Teplá River, lies in a hilly landscape of the Slavkov Forest and in the eponymous protected landscape area. The highest point is the hill Vítkův vrch, at 642 metres (2,106 ft) above sea level.


Climate data for Karlovy Vary (1991−2020 normals, extremes 1987−present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.2
Average high °C (°F) 0.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.8
Average low °C (°F) −3.9
Record low °C (°F) −20.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 54.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11.7 10.1 11.8 11.4 14.3 14.7 15.1 13.6 12.0 12.8 11.8 11.9 151.2
Source:[7][better source needed]


Karlovy Vary, 1650; engraving by Matthäus Merian
Karlovy Vary, 1650; engraving by Matthäus Merian

An ancient late Bronze Age fortified settlement was found in Drahovice. A Slavic settlement on the site of Karlovy Vary is documented by findings in Tašovice and Sedlec. People lived in close proximity to the site as far back as the 13th century and they must have been aware of the curative effects of thermal springs.[8]

From the end of the 12th century to the early 13th century, German settlers from nearby German-speaking regions came as settlers, craftsmen and miners to develop the region's economy. Eventually, Karlovy Vary/Karlsbad became a town with a German-speaking population.[9]

In 1325, Obora, a village in the today's city area, was mentioned. Karlovy Vary as a small spa settlement was founded most likely around 1349.[8] According to a legend, Charles IV organized an expedition into the forests surrounding modern-day Karlovy Vary during a stay in Loket. It is said that his party once discovered a hot spring by accident, and thanks to the water from the spring, Charles IV healed his injured leg.[10] On the site of a spring, he established a spa mentioned as in dem warmen Bade bey dem Elbogen in German, or Horké Lázně u Lokte (Hot Spas at the Loket).[11] The location was subsequently named "Karlovy Vary" after the emperor. Charles IV granted the town privileges on 14 August 1370. Earlier settlements can also be found on the outskirts of today's city.[8]

Modern times

Karlovy Vary in 1850
Karlovy Vary in 1850

An important political event took place in the city in 1819, with the issuing of the Carlsbad Decrees following a conference there. Initiated by the Austrian Minister of State Klemens von Metternich, the decrees were intended to implement anti-liberal censorship within the German Confederation.

Due to publications produced by physicians such as David Becher and Josef von Löschner, the city developed into a spa resort in the 19th century and was visited by many members of European aristocracy as well as celebrities from many fields of endeavour. It became even more popular after railway lines were completed from Prague to Cheb in 1870.

The number of visitors rose from 134 families in the 1756 season to 26,000 guests annually at the end of the 19th century. By 1911, that figure had reached 71,000, but the outbreak of World War I in 1914 greatly disrupted the tourism on which the city depended.

At the end of World War I in 1918, the large German-speaking population of Bohemia was incorporated into the new state of Czechoslovakia in accordance with the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919). As a result, the German-speaking majority of Karlovy Vary protested. A demonstration on 4 March 1919 passed peacefully, but later that month, six demonstrators were killed by Czech troops after a demonstration became unruly.[12]

According to the 1930 census, the city was home to 23,901 inhabitants – 20,856 were of German ethnicity, 1,446 of Czechoslovak ethnicity (Czech or Slovak), 243 of Jewish ethnicity, 19 of Hungarian ethnicity and 12 of Polish ethnicity.[13]

In 1938, the majority German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia, known as the Sudetenland, became part of Nazi Germany according to the terms of the Munich Agreement. After World War II, in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, the vast majority of the people of the city were forcibly expelled because of their German ethnicity. In accordance with the Beneš decrees, their property was confiscated without compensation.[14]

Since the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the presence of Russian businesses in Karlovy Vary has steadily increased.


In 2017, non-Czech residents were around 7% of the population of the Karlovy Vary region. After Prague, this is the highest proportion in the Czech Republic. The largest group of foreigners were Vietnamese, followed by Germans, Ukrainians and Russians.[15]

Historical population
Source: Censuses[16][17]


The city's economy is focused on services and only small and medium-sized industrial enterprises are based in it. Karlovy Vary is known for the popular Czech liqueur Becherovka, which has been produced here since 1807, and for the production of the lead glass manufacturer Moser Glass founded in 1857, which is considered as the most luxurious Czech brand.[18] The Karlovarské oplatky (Carlsbad wafers) originated in the city in 1867. The city has also lent its name to "Carlsbad plums", candied stuffed prune plums.


Local buses (Dopravní podnik Karlovy Vary) and cable cars take passengers to most areas of the city. The Imperial funicular is the oldest tunnel funicular in Europe and the steepest in the Czech Republic, the Diana funicular was at the time of commissioning the longest funicular in Austria-Hungary.[19][20]

The city is accessible via the D6 motorway and inter-city public transport options include inter-city buses, České dráhy, and Deutsche Bahn via the Karlovy Vary–Johanngeorgenstadt railway. Karlovy Vary Airport is an international airport located 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) southeast from the city centre, at the village of Olšová Vrata.


As the principal town on the West Bohemian Spa Triangle and the largest spa complex in Europe, Karlovy Vary has over 80 springs.[3] They are a part of the Eger Graben, a tectonically active region in western Bohemia. Although the infiltration area is several hundred square kilometres, each spring has the same hydrological origins, and therefore shares the same dissolved minerals and chemical formula. The hottest of the springs can approach 74 °C, while the coldest have temperatures under 40 degrees. All of the springs combined provide roughly 2,000 litres of water every minute.[3]


Church of St. Mary Magdalene
Church of St. Mary Magdalene

In the 19th century, Karlovy Vary became a popular tourist destination, especially known for international celebrities who visited for spa treatment. The city is also known for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which is one of the oldest in the world and one of Europe's major film events.

The city has been used as the location for a number of film-shoots, including the 2006 films Last Holiday and Casino Royale, both of which used the city's Grandhotel Pupp in different guises. Moreover, the Palace Bristol Hotel in Karlovy Vary had been used as a model for The Grand Budapest Hotel.


Karlovy Vary is home to the top-tier ice hockey club HC Karlovy Vary, and football club FC Slavia Karlovy Vary, which plays in the third tier of the Czech football system.


Orthodox Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Orthodox Church of Saints Peter and Paul


Notable people

Peter the Great Monument in Karlovy Vary
Peter the Great Monument in Karlovy Vary
Ludwig van Beethoven Monument in Karlovy Vary
Ludwig van Beethoven Monument in Karlovy Vary

Associated with the city

International relations

Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States[24] (after which Carlsbad Caverns National Park is named), Carlsbad, California, USA[25] Carlsbad Springs, Ontario, Canada, and Carlsbad, Texas, USA, take their names from Karlovy Vary's English name, Carlsbad. All of these places were so named because they were the sites of mineral springs or natural sources of mineral water.

Twin towns – sister cities

Karlovy Vary is twinned with:[26]



A panorama of Karlovy Vary. Key sites, from left to right, are: the dark grey, socialist-era Thermal Spring Colonnade (also Hot Spring Colonnade or Sprudel) featuring a glass chimney. Directly above is the twin-steeple Church of St. Mary Magdalene. The large, stately building on the central hill is the Hotel Imperial. Below, to the right of the square, is the Opera House. The Grandhotel Pupp is the large white building, far right.


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2022". Czech Statistical Office. 29 April 2022.
  2. ^ Vývoj návštěvnosti lázní v letech 2000–2011
  3. ^ a b c Nomination of the Great Spas of Europe for inclusion on the World Heritage List (Report). United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  4. ^ Landwehr, Andreas (24 July 2021). "'Great Spas of Europe' awarded UNESCO World Heritage status". Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  5. ^ "The Great Spa Towns of Europe". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Brno jako bahniště a ve Zlíně žil zlý člověk. Jak vznikla jména měst" (in Czech). iDnes. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Normales et records pour la période 1991-2020 à Karlovy Vary". Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "Založení Karlových Varů a Karel IV" (PDF) (in Czech). Statutární město Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  9. ^ Walter Koschmal, Marek Nekula, Joachim Rogall (2001). Deutsche und Tschechen: Geschichte, Kultur, Politik. C.H. Beck. pp. 338–39.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Historie a současnost Karlových Varů" (in Czech). Statutární město Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ Ivan Lutterer, Milan Majtán, Rudolf Šrámek (1982). Zeměpisná jména Československa: slovník vybraných zeměpisných jmen s výkladem jejich původu a historického vývoje (in Czech).{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Zdeněk Vališ: 4. březen 1919 v Kadani". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  13. ^ Fidler, Sluka (2006). Encyklopedie branné moci Republiky Československé (in Czech). Libra.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Benešovy dekrety "slaví" pětašedesát let". Dení (in Czech). 21 June 2010.
  15. ^ "V Karlovarském kraji se líbí cizincům". Karlovarský deník (in Czech). 14 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Karlovy Vary" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 21 December 2015. pp. 9–10.
  17. ^ "Population Census 2021: Population by sex". Public Database. Czech Statistical Office. 27 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Studie: Nejluxusnější českou značkou je Moser". (in Czech). 11 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Nejstarší tunelová lanovka v Evropě slaví 100 let". 28 May 2007.
  20. ^ "Karlovy Vary – Unikátní lázně, do kterých se sjíždí celý svět". (in Czech).
  21. ^ "Hidden europe | Escape from Carlsbad". 3 July 2014.
  22. ^ Johannes Baier: Goethe und die Thermalquellen von Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad, Tschechische Republik). In: Jahresberichte und Mitteilungen des Oberrheinischen Geologischen Vereins. N. F. Bd. 94, 2012, ISSN 0078-2947, S. 87–103.
  23. ^ "Kemal Ataturk | Biography, Reforms, Death, & Facts | Britannica".
  24. ^ About Carlsbad, NM Archived 17 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 2012-03-23
  25. ^ City of Carlsbad - History of Carlsbad Archived 6 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2012-03-23.
  26. ^ "Zahraniční vztahy" (in Czech). Statutární město Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 22 June 2020.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 25 July 2022, at 06:15
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