Make your own free website on


Carlsbad is the largest bath town in the Czech Republic and can pride itself with long balneological tradition and beautiful surrounding scenery. With regard to the importance of bath industry, the topic is described in separate chapter titled Spa.





For centuries, man uses natural curative springs to improve his health. Although the development of pharmacology and the use of technology in health care enrich contemporary methods of treatment, the bath medicine still has an important position among the standard means, by which the quality of living can be improved. Especially in previous two centuries, the range of knowledge concerning beneficial effects of natural curative resources and their practical use evolved, together with the development of science. The number of persons concerned in bath treatment increases together with improving citizen consciousness of the health being the greatest asset of our lives. The care for one's own health pays off.

History of the Spas
The Effects of Carlsbad Mineral Waters
Spa Library


History of the Baths

Agonising Baths
Comprehensive Bath Treatment
Carlsbad Bath Industry Boom in 18th Century
Elaboration of Dr. Becher's Medical Practices
Change of Bath Resort Life Style at the End of 19th Century
Modernisation of the Town in the Second Half of 19th Century
Influence of the Vienna and Prague Balneology Schools
Pre-war Rise and Post-war Stagnation
War Crisis
Nationalisation of the Baths
Return to the Former Splendour
Once Again One of the Most Popular Baths

Agonising Baths
The oldest stage of Carlsbad bath industry is determined by the years 1350 - 1522. Considerable prestige is documented by the famous Ode to The Hot Spring by Bohuslav Hasištejnský of Lobkovice (approximately 1500).

From the foundation of the town until middle of 16th century, the Carlsbad bath treatment consisted almost solely of a single procedure, an abundance of bathing, which was suitably named "Hautfresser" ("Skin Devourer"). In some cases, the patients bathed for 10 or even more hours a day. The long bathing led to painful cracking of their skin, which was the goal of then humoral therapy. According to the therapy, the water washed out infectious germs through the opened skin.
A drinking cure was used only after the impulse from Doctor Václav Payer, who published the very first expert essay on Carlsbad treatment in 1522. He recommended not only bathing, but also drinking of the hot spring water.
After 1600, another promoter of the drinking cure, Johann Stephan Strobelberger, appeared. Despite Payer's pioneer recommendation of the drinking cure, the bathing cure was the main form of the Carlsbad treatment till the end of 16th century. In that time, the curative stay at The Hot Spring took approximately 4 - 5 weeks.
Since 1620, the drinking cure was gradually more and more preferred especially thanks to the influence of numerous tracts by Dr. J. S. Strobelberger. This increasing predominance of the drinking cure led even to questionable extremities, when about the year 1750, patient was to drunk even 50 to 70 "cups" a day. These quantities were to be taken for several days in the middle of the bath resort stay; the start and finish of the treatment allowed more moderate doses.
This medical treatment practised for roughly 150 years was called "pyramidal cure". The prosperity of the Carlsbad baths was seriously harmed by the Thirty Years' War. It resulted especially in considerable decrease of visit rate.
Significant revival of the bath resort occurred only in the last third of 17th century and it was caused by the flow of rich visitors especially from Saxon and later also from Russian and Polish royal courts. The increase of visit rate at the end of 17th century led also to making lists of bath visitors. The lists, called also Kurlists, at first hand-written, since 1795 published by press, were issued till 1948. About the year 1700, numerous medical tracts concerning Carlsbad significantly popularised the baths and increased visit rate.


Comprehensive Bath Treatment

The lifelong work of Dr. David Becher (1725 - 1792) was of essential importance for modernisation of Carlsbad balneology.

He performed the first really scientific chemical analysis of Carlsbad waters.
Thanks to his endeavour, the large-scale production and export of thermal salt started in 1764.
It was him, who enforced the establishment of progressive medical treatment methods, which are under modern name Comprehensive Bath Treatment used till present days.
He promoted drinking of moderate doses of water and raised the prestige of thermal water bathing again.

On the basis of his chemical analysis of the water, Dr. Becher promoted its drinking directly at the springs and frequent exercise in the form of walking during the treatment.
These principles led to building of pavilions and colonnades over the springs, promenade paths and specialised bath facilities, and to the change of whole existing way of life of the bath resort.
In the years 1766 and 1772, David Becher published a tract on Carlsbad treatment, which is considered to be one of the most important writings on Carlsbad balneology.


Carlsbad Bath Industry Boom in 18th Century

In connection with development of the bath industry, many social and bath facility buildings ware raised. In 1711, The Mill Bath (Mlýnské lázně), the first public bathhouse was raised.
After 1700, the bath industry started to significantly influence the face of the town. All was conformed to satisfy the needs of bath visitors. In May 23rd, 1759, the promising bloom of Carlsbad of the first half of 18th century was broken by a large conflagration. The fire destroyed more than two thirds of the town and seriously impaired local bath industry for several years.
The construction of Carlsbad after the fire was planned with emphasis on attractive look and comfort decor of the houses, and the reconstructed town was visited by more and more guests.
Financing of these adaptations was provided also by so-called bath tax, which was introduced in 1795. In 1777, a modern Hot Spring Hall was built up, as a result of enforcement of Dr. Becher's medical principles, which emphasised drinking of the water directly from the spring.
In 1788, a stone theatre was built for money from the sale of thermal salt.
The New Spring Colonnade (kolonáda Nového pramene), established in 1792, was the first building of its kind in Carlsbad.
From the end of 18th century, the most favourite social centre of the bath guests was the Czech Hall, which Johann Georg Pupp bought in 1775 and thus established the basis for development of the largest Carlsbad restaurant and hotel facility.


Elaboration of Dr. Becher's Medical Practices

The beginning of 19th century brought another bath industry boom to Carlsbad. In the first half of 19th century, David Becher's medical treatment was further elaborated and perfected by series of excellent doctors.
About the year 1860, Carlsbad became really popular resort for diabetes patients and it was nicknamed "sick house for diabetics".
Drinking and bathing were supplemented by other practices. From the initiative of Dr. Jean de Carro, steam baths were established by the Hot Spring in 1826. In 1836, peat baths started functioning. Since 1838, the patients gained access to bathing, drinking and inhaling of so-called gas bath in place of the present-day Bath VI. In 1844, the large-scale export of thermal water was launched. All around the world it supported the treatment of alimentary tract diseases.
The success of this treatment resulted in great promotion of Carlsbad waters and caused another tide of patients.


Change of Bath Resort Life Style at the End of 19th Century

Already around the year 1870, the time span of the main bath season grew larger. Formerly it was determined by 15th June and 15th September, since 1860 the period from 1st May to 30th September becomes more common.
The duration of the bath treatment settles down to 4 weeks.
Already at the end of 19th century, when the life style dictated by aristocracy rules at The Hot Spring, the orders begin to differentiate among the bath guests. Old-time bath sociability and expensive entertainment disappear, rapidly eliminated by increasing visitor rate. Carlsbad, originally considered to be the Parlour of Europe, becomes more and more distinctly the Sanatorium of Europe. Thus, after centuries, the words of Dr. Payer from 1522 saying that the baths are not here for entertainment, but for treatment, fulfil.


Modernisation of the Town in the Second Half of 19th Century

The second half of 19th century was a period of large building operations and construction of modern bath facilities in Carlsbad.
The construction during the last third of the century has given to the town its present-day appearance with its outstanding stamp of Historicism and Secession Styles. Dominant bath buildings, such as The Hot Spring Colonnade, The Mill Colonnade, the Theatre, or The Emperor's Bath, were erected.
Connection to the European railway network in 1870 was of essential importance for further development of the town.


Influence of the Vienna and Prague Balneology Schools

Both theory and practice of the Carlsbad balneology were further elaborated in connection with the modernisation of the bath facilities.
At the end of 19th century, the Carlsbad bath industry was influenced mostly by the Vienna Balneology School. Along with the drinking cure, the use of mineral water for maximum of other applications was emphasised.
E.g. natural carbon dioxide was used for micro-massages.
Before the First World War, the use of radioactivity of the hot springs was also considered, which led to the establishment of radioactive baths in Jáchymov in 1906.
After 1905, when M.D. Milan Mixa, one of the most important Czech doctors of the hot spring town, has settled in Carlsbad, the baths were influenced by the Prague Balneology School.
Great development of the medicine at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries formed the method of Carlsbad treatment of chronic digestive tract diseases and metabolism diseases.


Pre-war Rise and Post-war Stagnation

The changes of lifestyle about the year 1900 brought new kinds of entertainment to Carlsbad, especially thanks to the influence the overseas patients and patients from England. And so the town gradually acquired tennis courts, golf courses, and a racecourse.
Closely before the outbreak of the First World War, Carlsbad reached the largest number of bath guests in its history (in 1911, 70.935 persons underwent medical treatment there).
The World War interrupted the flow of bath visitors and thus seriously impaired whole life of the town, which was also stricken by following post-war economic crisis.


War Crisis

As a result of the Second World War, the operation of the baths was restricted in various ways. In March 1939, demolition of one of the symbols of Carlsbad baths, The Hot Spring Colonnade made of cast-iron, was finished and it was replaced by a wooden makeshift.
In 1942, 36.646 persons came to undergo the medical treatment there, mainly from Germany. The last year of the war was the year of collapse of the bath industry. During the whole year of 1945, statistics record only 3.794 bath guests.


Nationalisation of the Baths

After 1945, Carlsbad bath treatment was developing on different principles. Curative mineral resources and bath facilities were nationalised.
In 1948, national enterprise Československé lázně a zřídla (Czechoslovak Baths and Hot Springs) was formed. The enterprise took over all the Carlsbad bath facilities, including sanatoriums, hotels and boarding houses.


Return to the Former Splendour

From 1990, the state medical baths Carlsbad were gradually privatised.
Joint stock companies and private owners replaced the state monopoly. New history of Carlsbad bath industry got started.
The privatisation of the largest Czech baths proceeded in a manner different from the other baths in the Czech Republic.
Separate bath facilities, sanatoriums, bath hotels, joint stock companies, limited companies, and other subjects emerged. The town of Carlsbad took over the administration of its historical possessions (i.e. colonnades, balneal facilities - such as Bath I, Bath III, or Bath V - and natural curative resources). Two allowance organisations - Administration of Curative Resources and Colonnades, and Bath Medical Facility - were founded.
Other allowance organisations of the town, Bath Park Management, and Spa Woods, help make the baths a more pleasant place. The town also supports Carlsbad Symphonic Orchestra, Cultural Centre Amethyst, and the Theatre.


Once Again One of the Most Popular Baths

The baths are again open to the whole world. The face of the town and fitting of its bathhouses, restaurants and stores improve each year. More and more cultural events, even for foreign visitors, take place.
Carlsbad with its clientele from all continents (bath guests with medical programme for three weeks from 60 countries of the world, guests for short-term stays from more than 80 countries) are once again one of the most popular baths in Europe.
The number of foreign guests increases, and already exceeds the number of domestic clients.

The Effects of Carlsbad Mineral Waters


Internal - drinking cure, mucosal lavage and inhalation
External - bathing

For each Carlsbad bath guest individual health care programme is compiled and applied by skilled bath staff.
Doctor -balneologist - determines prescription, schedule and combination of procedures during initial health check. He pays attention to all patient's complaints and changes of health conditions. The client gets individual health care programme.

In Carlsbad springs, more than 50 elements needed for organism are present. Their beneficial effects on whole digestive system, metabolism, and parodontium diseases, on general improvement of health condition and on immunity against the impact of genetic and civilisation pressures are described in hundreds of specialised publications.


What Is Treated Here?

According to the experience of previous generations of bath guests and on the basis of naturalistic medical research results, the curative stay in Carlsbad can be recommended to four groups of persons:

to those, who want to be in FORM after suffered disease in the shortest possible time,
to those, who want to strengthen their own immunity system and to prevent acute outbursts of chronic ailment, which restricts them both in working and social life,
to those, who want to reduce their chronic aliment, to reduce consumption of drugs, and prevent hospital treatment of later disease stadium,
and to those, who seek qualified prevention of genetic and civilisational diseases.

Its composition predetermines the Carlsbad springs for usage in the case of people with: digestive system function disorder: disorder of parodontium, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and biliary tract, pancreas, or metabolic disorder: diabetes, increased level of cholesterol, uraemia, chronic spine and joints complaints, weakening of health condition caused by stress, by cancer treatment, by irradiation, or by chemotherapy.


Spa Library

After the Balneologic Research Institute in Carlsbad was closed, its Medical Library was added to the Medical Library of Carlsbad Hospital.
The Medical Library of the the BRI includes:

  1. Medical literature and literature concerning other branches
  2. Balneologic literature


Balneologic Literature - Pressmark List

Balneology - Balneotherapy
Balneo-technology - Hydrogeology
Electrotherapy - Ultrasound - Diathermy
Physical Treatment
Climatic Treatment - Heliotherapy - Bioclimate
Mineral Water Treatment - Bathing - Drinking Cure
Therapeutic Gymnastics - Massages - Rehabilitation
Pelotherapy - Peloid Science
Radon Treatment - Radioactive Bath Treatment
Balneography - Domestic and Foreign Bath Industry (except Carlsbad)
Carlsbad in Medicine and Cultural History - Historic Literature


Regional Medical Library

Bezručova 8 360 66
Karlovy Vary

tel.: +420 17 3115126
+420 17 3115124


Operation Hours for Public:

Mo 07:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Tu - Th 07:00 AM - 03:30 PM
Fr 07:00 AM - 01:00 PM