hidden europe 43

Escape from Carlsbad

by hidden europe

Picture above: 100 years old this summer: the funicular railway to the Café Diana in Karlovy Vary (photo © hidden europe).


The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in older travel literature as Carlsbad). The doctors treating spa clients would naturally prefer that their patients walk rather than ride up the hillside.

The rituals surrounding daily life in the spa towns of central Europe are well known. There is the routine of taking the waters which involves a sedate perambulation around the various springs, stopping as prescribed to sip from a small porcelain mug. More agile spa guests have learnt the art of sipping on the move. And then there are the woodland walks. Ah, the walks… God has ensured that spa towns are generally in mountainous areas so the walks are inevitably strenuous. Woe betide the spa guest who does not complete the prescribed regimen of walks. Even Peter the Great, whose first visit to a central European spa was in 1711 when he stayed at Carlsbad, was not exempt from the walks.

Carlsbad (nowadays Karlovy Vary) is blessed with one of the finest settings of any spa town. The hills rise up above the Teplá Valley.

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