The fame of Karlovy Vary has spread into the whole world thanks to its mineral springs. Twelve of about one hundred mineral springs are used in the drinking cure.
Their basic compositions are similar but they differ in temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide, and that is why their effects are different as well. The colder springs usually have a slightly purgative effect while the warmer ones make the production of bile and stomach juices slower.
temperature of the mineral springs
(is related to the average temperature of the season
|Accessibility of springs|
|The Hot Spring||Hot
73oC 2.000 l/min
|Open daily 6 a.m.-6.30 p.m.|
|The Charles IV. Spring||Market
63,8oC 4,8 l/min
|The Lower Castle Spring||Castle
It is closed - it does not flow
|The Upper Castle Spring||Castle
It is closed - it does not flow
|The Market Spring||Market
61,6oC 4,9 l/min
|The Mill Spring||Mill
52,7oC 4,5 l/min
|The Nymph Spring||Mill
60,1oC 4,8 l/min
|The Prince Václav Spring||Mill
I: 63,7oC 4,1 l/min
II: 60,4oC 3,6 l/min
59,6oC 3,1 l/min
|The Rock Spring||near
the Mill Colonnade
45,4oC 2 l/min
|The Freedom Spring||the
pavilion near Spa III
59oC 5 l/min
|The Park Spring||Military
39,6oC 1,5 l/min
9oC – 13oC 2,5l/min
As to composition the Karlovy Vary water ranks among sodium-bicarbonate-sulphuric acidulous waters with the total, mineralization at about 6,4 g/l and the content of disolved carbon dioxide at about 560-980 mg/l.
|Anions (mg/l)||Non-dissociated components (mg/l)||Total mineralization mg/l|
Temperature 73°C, CO2 content 400 mg/l, spring discharge 2,000 l/min.
The water for drinking cure is led to five spring vases in the Hot Spring Colonnade. There it is available not only in the original temperature (spring vases A), but also cooled to 57°C (spring vases B) and 41°C (spring vase C).
The Hot Spring became not only symbol of the largest Czech bath resort, but also its eternally beating heart. Almost everything that makes Carlsbad a bath resort depends on the Spring - it provides thermal water for all balneal facilities, supplies carbon dioxide (CO2) for bathtub bathing, provides base material for production of Carlsbad thermal salt and for souvenir petrifying.
Also other Carlsbad springs depend on the Hot Spring, for they are just branches separated from the main thermal spring.
The very fountain geysering up to 14 meters high in the Colonnade Hall, which attracts attention of all visitors of our town, is only one of the branches of the Hot Spring.
Extrusions of the Hot Spring were known long before foundation of the bath resort. The water advanced from the depths of the Earth - at the break zone crossing in the Carlsbad granite - at the lowest point of the valley, in the bed of the Teplá River. At first, it also flowed away with river water without any use. Natural extrusions were gradually being overgrown by sinter, which together with washing-out activities of the river caused their endless moving. Only when the bath resort was founded, the need for the Spring use caused the Hot Spring to be collected. At first, it was done directly in the places of extrusion, in the bed of the Teplá River. Frequent floods, however, necessitated another solution - since 1500, the Spring has been collected on the right bank of the river.
Shallow wells, deepened into thick thermal sinter bench, usually found pressurized thermal spring directly below surface. Such spring flowed to open mortars of bathhouses. Bathing was provided in the bathhouses and patients drank the curative waters there.
On the basis of positive results of extensive geological survey, the relatively shallow catches of the Carlsbad Hot Spring were replaced by four transversal collecting wells, which collect the Spring in the depth of 48 - 49 meters.
Temperature 63,8°C, CO2 content 237 mg/l, yield 4,8 l/min.
An old legend says that it was right at this spring where the founder of the spa town himself, the emperor and king Charles IV, tried to cure his sore limbs. There is a relief by Zörkler above the springs vase. Its name is "The Discovery of Karlovy Vary". Small thermal springs have existed in the place of the present big spring since long ago. They could be found in the arcade of the old town hall When the present wooden colonnade was built, the spring vase got its fixed position and thermal water from it started to be used in the drinking cure.
When in 1895 the stairs of the Plague Column were re-laid, new springs were discovered. They sprang from under a layer of sprudel stone which was 1 metre thick. The water was collected in two reservoirs and special pipes led it to the colonnade. But the richness of the new springs gradually sank and from the World War I another solution to the problem had to be used. Water was brought from the nearest rich spring - the Lower Castle Spring by means of pipes which were 85 metres long.
This was quite a satisfactory solution when the spa season lasted for five months only. Thermal water from the hot Castle Spring cooled down on its way to the colonnade and its temperature was quite pleasant and suitable for the drinking cure. The situation became complicated after the spa season had been extended to the whole year - in winter the temperature of the water in the spring vase sank to some 30oC.
Before Karlovy Vary
springs were cought newly, a geological research had been made. Three wells
which were made in the neighbourhood of the Plague Column were parts of it.
Thermal water for Charles IV Spring was cought at a depths of 19,5 metres.
It's closed and doesn't flow.
Temperature 61,4oC, CO2 content 572 mg/l, yield 5,2 l/min.
It can be found inside the Castle Colonnade which was built from the plans of the famous architect Ohmann from Vienna. There is a sandstone relief behind the spring vase which depicts "The Protector of the Springs". Both the colonnade and the spring were named after the hunting-lodge which had been built by Charles IV's order.
The Lower Castle Spring can be found in the very centre of the spa district, at the foot of the Castle Hill. The first records date back to 1769 but we known that the spring was here already before. Children dug a hole and made a small pool where the warm water poured out from the earth and bathed in it. Cows drank it when they drove them home from pasture. It was at that time that the spring caught the attention of spa doctors.
When all the drinking water had frozen in the cold winter of 1784, the water from the Castle Spring was diverted to the public fountain. Doctor David Becher made the first chemical analysis of the spring at that time and he found out, that it had the same composition as the Hot Spring.
But it was only at the close of the 18th century when the spring was held back, especially because patients from abroad insisted on it. It was discovered that the mineral water came out from a rift in granite which was running aslant under the houses standing on the Castle Hill. But during the big burst of the Hot Spring in 18O9 the spring disappeared and it re-appeared after 14 long years.
The colonnade was built here in 1911. Construction plans were made by the architect Ohmann.
When the small Karlovy Vary springs were being held, three wells were sunk in the neighbourhood of the Castle Spring. One of them discovered a big tributary of the spring at a depth of 31 metres. It was very rich - 200 l/min. Of all the small mineral springs in Karlovy Vary this was the richest. It is a pity that the water from the Castle Spring flows into drains today.
Unfortunately, the Castle
Colonnade has fallen into decay and that's why it has been closed for many
It's closed and doesn't flow.
Temperature 61,4oC, CO2 content 572 mg/l, yield 5,2 l/min.
When the construction of the Castle Colonnade was being prepared in 1911,the head of the Karlovy Vary Spring Office, Robert Kampe, made an interesting suggestion to the author of the building project, the architect Ohmann from Vienna. His idea was to bring a small part of water from the Lower Castle Spring to a level which would have been several metres higher. A part of the thermal water from the reservoir of the Lower Castle Spring is diverted to a small pavilion which was built over this "new" spring in 1912.
The mixture of water and gas is lighter than water according to physical laws. It means in the case of Karlovy Vary springs that the delivery height of each of them depends on the amount of gaseous carbon dioxide which the thermal water contains. In this case a very narrow pipe was used. Thermal water with a very high amount of carbon dioxide (about 1 litre/min) was led through it from the Lower Castle Spring as far as the pavilion of the Upper Castle Spring.
This technical "innovation" had another effect: the final values of the "new" spring differed considerably from the original source. The explanation is easy: during its way through the pipes the temperature of the thermal water sinks and the solubility of carbon dioxide increases. In the case of the Castle Spring the temperature sank below 50oC and the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide rose to 763 mg/l. (Compare: the temperature of the Lower Castle Spring was 62,3oC and it contained 660mg CO2/l).
The Upper Castle Spring
ranked among the twelve springs which were used in the drinking cure.
Unfortunately the Castle Colonnade is in a very bad condition at present and so
the curative water flows away to drains without being used.
Temperature 61,6oC, CO2 content 363 mg/l, yield 4,9 l/min.
An old legend says that it was somewhere between the present Charles and Market Mineral Springs where the founder of the spa town, Charles IV, tried to cure his sore legs.
According to F. Summer (1571) the first bathing facilities in Karlovy Vary used to stand right in this place. Both small and big thermal springs have existed here since time immemorial. They often disappeared and then they reappeared again. A big thermal spring by the name of Creusin rose from the earth here. People called it "Glutton". The Market Spring itself was discovered between the chemist's with the name "White Eagle" and a house that used to be called "Giraffe" relatively late, only in 1838. It rose from a rift in the vein of sprudel stone which was 15 cm thick. The vein was closed in the granite massif at the foot of the Castle Tower.
The spring almost disappeared in the course of work on the Sprudel. When the work had been finished, it did not reappear in its full strength. That was why a new and deeper well was made in 1848 but it did not bring any result. In 1853 a leak of the spring was discovered. It was hold with a new well at a depth of 60 cm. Thermal water from this well was used for several years.
After the town hall and some houses in its neighbourhood had been pulled down in 1879, a new well was made. Another well was made a hundred years ago, in winter of 1893-94. Wooden reservoirs were replaced with tin bells at that time. The last shallow well dated back to the time before the World War I. As the delivery head of the springs was some 2 metres under the floor of the Market Colonnade, it was necessary to descend some steps to reach them. Originally the Market Colonnade was a provisional arrangement. It should have been replaced with a new construction and at the same time the problem of the access to the spring should have been solved.
The Market Colonnade was built in 1893 and at present it ranks among the most valuable historical monuments in the town. It has been reconstructed recently.
Temperature 52,7oC, CO2 content 451 mg/l, yield 4,5 l/min.
It was named after the mill which used to stand in the neighbourhood till the end of the 18th century. A marble plate with the original Latin text of the "Ode to the Hot Spring" by the Czech humanist Bohuslav Hasištejnský dating from 1500 was placed above the spring vase. The spring gave the name to the biggest colonnade in Karlovy Vary. The spring was known in as early as the 16th century and it was used especially for baths. In 1705 the famous Karlovy Vary doctor F. Hoffmann recommended it for the drinking cure. A spa facility with four boxes was established here soon after it. From the present point of view it was the first balneologic facility in Karlovy Vary.
The history of the place is closely connected with the name of Kaiserin Maria Theresa. In order to help the town (it was badly hit by fire in 1759), she bought a piece of land in the neighbourhood and ordered a new spa house to be built here. Its name was the Mill Spa House and it cost 23,000 guilders. She donated it to the town of Karlovy Vary 14 years later.
As the Mill Spring wasn't rich enough, it was collected again. Up to 1908 the Mill Spring was situated under the level of its floor and you had to descend three steps to reach it. The wells which were done in the neighbourhood of the Mill Spring in the early 80s were parts of an extensive geological research. They proved the existence of thermal water in the system of rifts. The temperature of the water was higher than 70oC. It was necessary to collect the spring deep enough to prevent its contamination. It also had to have the right temperature -i.e. not too high. Now the well of the Mill Spring is 24 metres deep
The Mill Spring has always been very popular with patients who were waiting in long queues in front of it, especially in the morning. In the past the Mill Spring was bottled and it could be bought all over the country.
Originally it was called the New Spring (Nový pramen), although it is known from 16th century.It is the famous New Spring on which the attention of all spa guests concentrated in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since 1748 a wooden colonnade of the New Spring was standing above it. Spa doctors had their surgeries right at the spring. David Becher, a famous Karlovy Vary polyhistor, was one of them
The drinking cure became a social event - the original wooden colonnade had to be extended (1793, 1811) because it was constantly crowded with patients. Later the spring became a part of the Mill Colonnade. The Mill Colonnade (1871-1881) was planned and built by the architect Zítek. The privileged position of the New Spring was later taken over by the Mill Spring. The water of the New Spring was hidden under the alluvia of the Teplá river.
In 1746 Karlovy Vary doctor Springfeld initiated the collection of the spring. A wooden reservoir was built and the spring started to be used in the drinking cure. Doctor Springfeld himself made a chemical analysis of the mineral water and he preferred the curative power of the New Spring to the Hot Spring.
In 1762 the reservoir was rebuilt and water rose some feet higher thanks to its own upper pressure (the jars were filled with water right in the reservoir before). But the water gave out an unpleasant smell - it smelt like bad eggs. The smell was caused by hydrogen sulphide which came into being through the reaction of pine wood and mineral water.(A part of the reservoir was made of pine wood). Pine wood was later replaced with linden wood but the smell didn't disappear.
In spite of it linden wood was used up to the 60s of the last century. After the World War II the New Spring was renamed and it started to be called the Nymph Spring. In 1984 a new well was made and the water was held at a height of 7,8 m under the floor of the colonnade.
Temperature I: 63,7:oC; II: 60,4oC, CO2 content 363 mg/l, yield I: 4,1; II: 3,6 l/min.
The hot mineral
spring was discovered under the rock with the St. Bernard statue in 1784.
The rock reached as far as the riverbed and closed the road on the left
bank of the Teplá River. It was much later that it gave way to the
construction of the Mill Colonnade.
Bernard Spring as it could be found in the neighbourhood of St. Bernard Rock. Later it became a part of the promenade belonging to the colonnade of the New Spring. Although qualities were similar to those of the Hot Spring , it wasn't used in the drinking cure.
In 1872-1882 the Mill Spring Colonnade was built and it changed the arrangement of the springs considerably. Up to that time the vases with the thermal water could be found in the close neighbourhood of the spring, later they were arranged according to the plans of the architect Zítek. The thermal water was collected under the foundations of the colonnade right in the place where it sprang from the rifts in the granite. By means of its upward pressure it was led to the chosen places.
All the reservoirs shared a common problem. As soon as the water comes near to the surface, both the pressure and the temperature sink. As a result of it its gaseous components - among them the carbon dioxide - start to separate. The solubility of mineral salts changes too. The calcium oxide liberates from the solution. It is a mineral which is able to form a thick deposit in the pipes and to block them.
When ten years ago small Karlovy Vary springs were collected, people came across a big side-spring at a depth of 9.6 m. The delivery head was so big that it was possible to place the vases above the colonnade floor.
One of the four curative springs in The Mill Colonnade slightly loses its individuality - traditional standardised spring vase in the Colonnade portico almost gives an impression of uniformity.
Even in 19th century, a wooden colonnade from 1792 stood over the river. It was to increase the comfort of patients and to protect them from rain during the drinking cure. Its official name was The New Spring Colonnade, but it was nicknamed "Honky-Tonk" (Trampelbude). It went from The Mill Spring to The Bernard's Rock (Bernardova skála). Between the Colonnade and the hillside was a promenade space and at that time, Gazebo of the Terezia's Spring was in it. It was one of the oldest Carlsbad springs, known from 16th century.
The soil was originally made wet and warm by rampantly rising thermal springlets. Only in 1763, the separate curative spring was properly tapped and a wooden gazebo with inscription "Garden Spring 1764" (Gartenbrunn 1764) was erected above it. But the patients did not visit it willingly, because its swampy surroundings were home for many grass snakes.
In 1798, a new spring temple was erected here and all the surroundings were drained. The spring was renamed in honour of the Empress Maria Terezia for The Terezia's Spring. Already in that time, the present-day Libuše's Spring, which is remembered since 18th century, sprung nearby. Its water was tapped and led out especially not to wet the promenade space.
During the construction of The Mill Colonnade (1871 - 1881), particular springlets were caught again and four of them were drained to the spring vase in the new Colonnade. And it was named to honour then Empress (Elizabeth). Nobody knows, who has renamed it to The Libuše's Spring after 1945.
Thermal springlets were caught roughly in the place of orchestra podium and their water was led by 30 meters long pipeline to the spring vase in the Colonnade. Naturally, the water was gradually growing cold and the spring was the least warm one in Carlsbad. In winter, the water of The Libuše's Spring was up to 30° C colder than in summer. And so in 80s, the spring was tapped already in its outgoing passage through granite as well as the others are.
New abstraction well going to the depth of 17.6 m found a crack, which spouts up to 4 litres of thermal water per minute with high content of dissolved carbon dioxide (more than 440 mg/l). Of course the water has higher temperature than original cooled springlets.
Temperature 45,4oC, CO2 content 589 mg/l, yield 2 l/min.
The mineral spring originally came out from the earth on the bottom of the river. Since long ago horses were watered in warm water here and that was why the site got the name the Horse Spa. The spring was improved only in 1845 , after the rock had been broken off, and promenades were built on both river banks.This new source of mineral water was called the Rock Spring.
Since 1850 the spring has been used the Karlovy Vary drinking cure. A provisional wooden pavillon was built later. Even at that time it was envisaged that the spring would be a part of a big colonnade. This plan was realized after the Mill Colonnade had been built.
The collection of the Rock Spring brought lots of difficulties- the thermal water originally sprang in the river-bed and it was necessary to make it accessible by taking it several metres higer. It was necessary to find another solution.
Thanks to a new well (1984) the Rock Spring can be collected at the level of the promenade road now.
Temperature 59oC, CO2 content 429 mg/l, yield 5 l/min.
It was discovered only when the foundations for the building of Spa III were dug in 1865. It means that it is the youngest spring in the row of the Karlovy Vary mineral springs which are used in the drinking cure. A wooden summerhouse was soon built over it which today ranks among listed sights.
Up to the half of the last century the Liberty Spring and its wooden pavillon used to be separated from the spa world with a big rock. The rock reached as far as to the bed of the Teplá river. (A statue of St.Bernard used to stand on the rock). In the opinion of David Becher (1722), a famous Karlovy Vary doctor, thermal springs were known in the slope above the present Liberty Spring in as early as the 16th century. D. Becher ordered a reservoir to be built here.
A hospital (Fremdenhospital) used to stand here in 1812 and that was why the spring was originally called the Hospital Spring.Only when the rock had been removed, the colonnade on the left bank of the Teplá river was extended and new spa facilities were built. The Spa III (originally the Spa House, Kurhaus) was one of them. It was built in the years 1864-67 and cost 350.000 guilders.
On excavating the foundations a big crack in the granite was discovered. Plenty of thermal water (about 30 litres/min) sprang into the crack. It was very warm - 64oC. To stop the undesirable inflow into the building pit, the workers followed the crack further east and the reservoir was built there. This new spring was supplying the Spa III with water for a number of years. Only in 1872 the spring started to be used in the drinking cure. A small temple was built here and in 1877 it was removed to its present place.
In 1897 it was replaced with an octagonal wooden pavillon. Its replica has been standing up to this time. It was originally called the Spa Spring but soon it was re-named and called the Franz-Josef Spring - in honour of the kaiser who was ruling at that time. In 1945 it was given its present name
The spring is very popular among the patients for its high content of carbon dioxide and therefore for its acceptably acidulous taste.
In places, where the small brook running from Little Versailles through the present-day Sadová Street led to the valley of the Teplá river, The Park Spring rises. It is the area, where the tectonic zone of Carlsbad hot-spring line crosses one of the southern branches of the Ohře fault, which closes the thermal zone from north.
During excavation of a building pit for the Military Balneal Institute building (1851-52), concentrated extrusion of a spring was discovered. It sprung from granite along a 1.75 m wide streak of chert, which was documented by an Austrian geologist, F. Warnsdorf (1855).
In 1854, the extrusion was caught by a bell-shaped basin and named The Emperor's Spring (Kaiserbrunn). The spring discharge was 7 litres per minute and its temperature was 50o C at that time. During reconstruction work in 1964, it was discovered that a bearing wall of the MBI was set directly above the spring basin. Output casing pipe from drilled trunk of lime tree was connected to the basin. The part of the casing pipe, which was constantly under water, was fully functional and the wood was absolutely sound, even after 110 years. The upper, rotten part was replaced by a stainless steel pipe. In this arrangement, the spring serves up to the present day.
With regard to its above-mentioned lower discharge level, the spring was located in the basement of building. During the reconstruction work, some of the spring water was for the comfort of patients taken by pump to the level of promenade.
It is ferrous acidulous water of bicarbonate-sulphate-soda type with increased content of fluorides, hypotonic, moderately mineralised. For its high content of carbon dioxide it can be important from the balneologic point of view and for possible indications for drinking cure. Content of the most of trace and secondary elements corresponds to that of classical Carlsbad hot springs, content of selenium, iron and zinc, however, is increased and the source also shows increased content of natural hydrogen sulphide.
In 1884, basin of the Štěpánka Spring was dug in proximity of the present-day Bath IV, i.e. on the southern edge of extrusion zone of Carlsbad hot-spring structure. However, in the first decades of 20th century, the source disappears.
A new well was established only after several unsuccessful attempts in 1993.