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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)
 • Total49,353
 • Density840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal codes
360 01, 360 06, 360 07,
360 17, 360 18, 364 64
Part ofThe Great Spa Towns of Europe
CriteriaCultural: (ii)(iii)
Inscription2021 (44th Session)

Karlovy Vary (Czech pronunciation: [ˈkarlovɪˈvarɪ] ; German: Karlsbad, formerly also spelled Carlsbad in English) is a spa city in the northwestern Czech Republic and the capital of the Karlovy Vary Region. It is located at the confluence of the Ohře and Teplá river, around 106 kilometres (66 mi) west of Prague. As of 2024, Karlovy Vary has a population of 49,353.

Karlovy Vary is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia, who founded the city in the 14th century. The site of numerous hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River), the city grew into a spa resort in the 19th century and was a popular destination for the European aristocracy and other luminaries.

Karlovy Vary's rapid growth was brought to an end by the outbreak of the First World War, after which it was incorporated into the newly established state of Czechoslovakia. In 1938, Karlovy Vary and the rest of the Sudetenland were annexed by Nazi Germany; the city was returned to Czechoslovakia at the end of the war and most of its ethnic German population was forcibly expelled. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Karlovy Vary once again became a major tourist destination.

Karlovy Vary is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic. 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. 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.

Administrative division

Karlovy Vary is made up of 15 city parts and villages:[2]

  • 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").[3]


Karlovy Vary is located about 106 kilometres (66 mi) west of Prague. 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 m (2,106 ft) above sea level.

The city lies at the confluence of the Ohře (which flows across the city) with the Teplá and Rolava rivers. There are several small bodies of water in the northern half of the Karlovy Vary territory. The most notable is the natural reservoir Rolava, which is located right in the centre of the city. It is used for recreational purposes.[4]


Climate data for Karlovy Vary (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.2
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 0.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −4.6
Record low °C (°F) −20.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 35.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.0 7.2 8.3 6.9 9.7 10.3 10.7 9.4 8.1 8.5 8.5 9.2 105.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 44.2 75.3 116.0 177.9 209.5 213.9 229.0 222.9 154.9 100.5 41.2 33.8 1,619
Source: NOAA[5]


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.[6]

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.[7]

In 1325, Obora, a village in today's city area, was mentioned. Karlovy Vary as a small spa settlement was founded most likely around 1349.[6] According to 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.[8] 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).[9] 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.[6]

19th and 20th centuries

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.[citation needed] The greatest year for tourism was 1911, when the number of visitors reached 70,956.[10] World War I ended the development of tourism. Other disasters for tourism were the world economic crisis and the beginning of World War II.[11]

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 city was together with the rest of the Sudetenland annexed by Nazi Germany according to the terms of the Munich Agreement. During World War II, the Germans established a Gestapo prison here.[14] After the war, in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement and Beneš decrees, most German inhabitants were forcibly expelled and their properties seized by the state.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, spas and tourism began to develop rapidly again. The spa buildings were reconstructed and the spa became competitive again within Europe.[11] The spa became popular with Russian clientele, and brought many Russian investors and developers to the city and its surroundings.[15]


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.[16]

Historical population
Source: Censuses[17][18]


The city's economy is focused on services and only small and medium-sized industrial enterprises are based in it. The main industry is the food and beverage industry, characterized by the bottling of mineral waters and the production of unique delicacies. The largest industrial employer based in the city is Mattoni 1873.[19] Karlovy Vary is known for the popular Czech liqueur Becherovka, which has been produced here since 1807. 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.

The second important industry is the production of glass and porcelain. Karlovy Vary is known for the lead glass manufacturer Moser Glass founded in 1857, which is considered the most luxurious Czech brand.[20]


Mill Colonnade

Karlovy Vary is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic.[21] As the principal city on the West Bohemian Spa Triangle and the largest spa complex in Europe, Karlovy Vary has over 80 springs.[22] 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.[22]


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.[23][24]

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 (3 mi) southeast from the city centre, at the village of Olšová Vrata.


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 was used as a model for The Grand Budapest Hotel.


Karlovy Vary is home to the top-tier ice hockey club HC Karlovy Vary, and the top-tier volleyball club VK Karlovarsko.

The city is also represented by the football club FC Slavia Karlovy Vary, which plays in the third tier of the Czech football system.


Karlovy Vary is notable for its large concentration of monuments and architecturally valuable buildings. The origin of most of them is connected with the spa tradition of the city. Since 2018, the spa centre of the city along the Teplá river and the wider surroundings with the spa cultural landscape have been protected as an urban monument reservation.[25] As part of the Great Spa Towns of Europe, Karlovy Vary became a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its spas and architecture from the 18th through 20th centuries.[26]

Spa buildings

Císařské lázně spa building

Císařské lázně is the most important spa building, protected as a national cultural monument. It was built in the historicist style of the French Neo-Renaissance in 1893–1895.[27] The largest colonnade with five mineral springs is the Mill Colonnade (Czech: Mlýnská; pseudo-Renaissance structure, built in 1871–1881). The best-known spring is Vřídlo, located in Hot Spring Colonnade (Vřídelní; built in Functionalistic style in 1975). The spring gushes out in a geyser up to 12 m (39 ft) high. Other colonnades in the city are Park Colonnade (Sadová; cast-iron architecture structure built in 1880–1881 by Fellner & Helmer), Market Colonnade (Tržní; a wooden structure, built in Swiss style in 1882–1883 by Fellner & Helmer), and Castle Colonnade (Zámecká; built in Art Nouveau style in 1910–1912 by Friedrich Ohmann).[28]


Orthodox Church of Saint Peter and Paul

The most valuable church is the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene. It is a Catholic church, built in the Baroque style in 1732–1736 on the site of an old Gothic church from the second half of the 14th century. It was built according to the design by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer and belongs to the most important buildings of the Czech Baroque. It is protected as a national cultural monument.[29]

Among the most famous buildings of the city is the Church of Saint Peter and Paul. It was built in the Byzantine style in 1893–1897. It is the largest Orthodox church west of Post-Soviet states.[30]

The Church of Saint Andrew was built in the late Gothic style around 1500, reconstructed in the Empire style in 1840–1841. A cemetery was established next to the church for foreign guests of the spa who died in Karlovy Vary. In 1911, the cemetery was converted into a park, known as Mozart's Park, with many Neoclassical tombstones. Since 2005, it is owned by the Greek Catholic Church.[31][32]

The Church of Saint Anne was built in the Baroque style in 1738–1749 on the site of an old church. It is a pilgrimage church, in the construction of which K. I. Dientzenhofer took part.[33]

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a pseudo-Gothic church, built in 1854–1856 and rebuilt in 1893–1894. Since 1946, it is property of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.[34]

The Church of Saint Luke is a Methodist pseudo-Gothic two-aisle church, built in 1876–1877. It was built with the financial support of English spa guests. Today it no longer serves religious purposes and houses a wax museum.[35]

The Church of Saint Leonard of Noblac was the oldest ecclesiastical structure in the territory of Karlovy Vary. It was first documented in 1246. This late Romanesque structure is located in the woods south of the city proper, where a village used to be. From the end of the 15th century, after the village was depopulated, the church began to deteriorate and became a ruin.[36]

Notable people

Peter the Great Monument
Ludwig van Beethoven Monument

Associated with the city

International relations

Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States[40] (after which Carlsbad Caverns National Park is named), Carlsbad, California, USA[41] 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:[42]



Key sites, from left to right, are: the dark grey Hot Spring Colonnade 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.

See also


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2024". Czech Statistical Office. 17 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Části obcí". Územně identifikační registr ČR (in Czech). Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  3. ^ "Brno jako bahniště a ve Zlíně žil zlý člověk. Jak vznikla jména měst" (in Czech). iDnes. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Koupaliště Rolava" (in Czech). CzechTourism. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  5. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991-2020 — Karlovy Vary". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  6. ^ a b c "Založení Karlových Varů a Karel IV" (PDF) (in Czech). City of Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  7. ^ Walter Koschmal; Marek Nekula; Joachim Rogall (2001). Deutsche und Tschechen: Geschichte, Kultur, Politik. C.H. Beck. pp. 338–39.
  8. ^ "Historie a současnost Karlových Varů" (in Czech). City of Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ "Zázemí Imperialu nabízelo všechen myslitelný luxus" (in Czech). Dení 16 June 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Lázeňství a prameny". (in Czech). Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  12. ^ "Zdeněk Vališ: 4. březen 1919 v Kadani". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  13. ^ Fidler, Sluka (2006). Encyklopedie branné moci Republiky Československé (in Czech). Libra.
  14. ^ "Gestapogefängnis Karlsbad". (in German). Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Ruští podnikatelé mění tvář Varů. Staví luxusní byty, sruby i celé vesnice" (in Czech). 18 November 2009. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  16. ^ "V Karlovarském kraji se líbí cizincům". Karlovarský deník (in Czech). 14 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Karlovy Vary" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 21 December 2015. pp. 9–10.
  18. ^ "Population Census 2021: Population by sex". Public Database. Czech Statistical Office. 27 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Registr ekonomických subjektů". Business Register (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  20. ^ "Studie: Nejluxusnější českou značkou je Moser". (in Czech). 11 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Návštěvnost českých lázní" (in Czech). 31 December 2021. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  22. ^ a b Nomination of the Great Spas of Europe for inclusion on the World Heritage List (Report). UNESCO. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Nejstarší tunelová lanovka v Evropě slaví 100 let". 28 May 2007.
  24. ^ "Karlovy Vary – Unikátní lázně, do kterých se sjíždí celý svět". (in Czech).
  25. ^ "Karlovy Vary s lázeňskou kulturní krajinou" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  26. ^ "The Great Spa Towns of Europe". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. UNESCO. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  27. ^ "Císařské lázně" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  28. ^ "Colonnades and springs". City of Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  29. ^ "Kostel sv. Máří Magdalény" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  30. ^ "Největší pravoslavný chrám v Česku opět září nad Karlovými Vary". ČT24 (in Czech). Czech Television. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Cemetery Church of Saint Andrew". City of Karlovy Vary. March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  32. ^ "Kostel sv. Ondřeje s Mozartovými sady" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  33. ^ "Kostel sv. Anny" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  34. ^ "Church of Saint Peter and Paul". City of Karlovy Vary. March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  35. ^ "Anglican Church of Saint Lucas". City of Karlovy Vary. March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  36. ^ "Anglican Church of Saint Lucas". City of Karlovy Vary. March 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  37. ^ "Hidden europe | Escape from Carlsbad". 3 July 2014.
  38. ^ 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, pp. 87–103.
  39. ^ "Kemal Ataturk | Biography, Reforms, Death, & Facts | Britannica".
  40. ^ "About Carlsbad, New Mexico". City of Carlsbad, NM. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  41. ^ "History of Carlsbad". City of Carlsbad, CA. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  42. ^ "Zahraniční vztahy" (in Czech). City of Karlovy Vary. Retrieved 2 July 2023.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 16 June 2024, at 20:58
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