There is a legend that the thermal spring Vridlo was discovered by King Charles IV.

Spring Fantasy – Carlsbad SPA

The year 1358 is al­so considered the foundation since in that year a hunting lodge was built here. One thing is, however, certain and that is the heal­ing power of the local springs was known to people long before those dates. Traces of set­tlements from prehistoric times were found by archaeologists in Tasovice (where a pale-olithical quartz flint was found), Dvory and Drahovice. There is evidence that people lived in the area of today\'s Karlovy Vary al­ready in the 13th century and most probably used the thermal waters for healing already at that time. There used to be a king\'s deer park belonging to Loket Castle where Karlovy Vary were built later on and a village Obo-ra (Deer Park) with the church of St. Linhart. The first records date from 1246. The village has vanished without a trace; the church is now a ruin, and the oldest historical monu­ment of Karlovy Vary. The people who moved from the village Obora to a new place near Vffdio, the Thermal Spring, were most probably the first inhabitants of Karlovy Vary. An important date in the history of the town was 14th of August 1370 when Charles IV granted the settlement the same privileges en­joyed by the royal town of Loket. These privileges were then confirmed by Vaclav IV, the emperor Zikmund and other rulers. Since Karlovy Vary lay away from the main routes, the town was spared the ravages of the Hus­site wars. In 1434 the spa town was forfeit­ed by the Slika dynasty of Castle Loket and the citizens of Karlovy Vary did not like this at all. There was some civil strife and the whole issue went as far as King Ferdinand I. Later, in 1547, the king confiscated the ma­jor part of the c property and peace was restored.

The people of Karlovy Vary benefited greatly from the building up of the spa resort and the town expanded. Unfortunately there were serious floods in May 1582 and fire in August 1604. The records held in the archives state that out of 102 houses only three survived!

Another test came during the Thirty Years War when the royal privileges did not pre­vent the town from being plundered. The town was troubled by disease, hunger and fire. In 1630 Albrecht of Wallenstein arrived with an ostentatious entourage of about 900 people. Despite the difficulties the citizens were able to arrange for lodging and food for Wallenstein and his people and for a few days Karlovy Vary could enjoy peace. After the battle of White Hill the town was forced to revert to Catholicism - but unlike other towns not many people left for Saxony to be able to worship God as Lutherans. In 1628 Karlovy Vary regained its privileges and con­fiscated properties. In time of war the num­ber of spa visitors dropped considerably and people had to look for new sources of liveli­hood. The 1 7th century witnessed a great in­crease in crafts-needlework, cutlery, pewter and rifle manufacturing. Towards the end of the 17th century the spa was increasingly fre­quented by members of the Saxon, Russian and Polish courts and the reputation of the spa grew also thanks to visits by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, in the years 1711 and 1712. In 1707 the Emperor Joseph I. declared Karlovy Vary a royal free town. Members of the Habsburg dynasty developed a liking for the spa and visited it often. It seemed as if nothing could stop the successful expansion of Karlovy Vary but yet another disastrous fire came on the 23rd of May 1759 and de­stroyed two thirds of the town. New re­building saw some major changes in the val­ley of the river Tepla. The old half-timber houses were replaced by stone buildings of several floors; the town gates limiting the building expansion were not renewed. The profits from the spa enterprises (a spa tax was introduced in 1795) were used not only for building up the spa resort but also for devel­oping the town itself. For example - a new theatre was built in 1788 from the profit from sale of thermal spring salts.

In 1870 the railway between Karlovy Vary and Cheb was opened and that brought an increase in the number of visitors. The First World War paralysed life in the town and even the declaration of an independent re­public of Czechoslovakia did not bring peace and well-being. Nationalistic disputes and the economic crisis of the 1930s did not help either. During the Second World War the use of the spa was quite limited and many of the bath houses were converted into hospitals. After 1945 Karlovy Vary became an impor­tant social, cultural and, above all, a spa cen­tre once again.


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