October 1997 bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary
|Etymology: "Charles' Baths"|
|o Mayor||Andrea Pfeffer Ferklová (ANO)|
|o Total||59.10 km2 (22.82 sq mi)|
|Elevation||447 m (1,467 ft)|
|o Density||820/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Karlovy Vary (Czech pronunciation: ['karlov? 'var?] ; German: Karlsbad, pronounced ['ka?ls?ba:t] ) is a spa city in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 48,000 inhabitants. It lies on the confluence of the rivers Oh?e and Teplá, approximately 130 km (81 mi) west of Prague. It is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia, who founded the city in 1370. It is the site of numerous hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River), and is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic. Until 1945, when the German-speaking inhabitants were expelled, the city was overwhelmingly German-speaking.
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 Ta?ovice 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.
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.
Around 1350, Charles IV organized an expedition into the forests surrounding modern-day Karlovy Vary during a stay in Loket. On the site of a spring, he established a spa mentioned as in dem warmen Bade bey dem Elbogen in German, (Hot Spas at the elbow) or Horké Lázn? u Lokte . The location was subsequently named "Karlovy Vary" after the emperor, who extolled the healing powers of the hot springs, at least according to legend. Charles IV granted the town privileges on 14 August 1370. Earlier settlements can also be found on the outskirts of today's city.
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 famous 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. By 1911, that figure had reached 71,000, but the outbreak of World War I in 1914 greatly disrupted the tourism on which the city depended.
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.
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.
In 1938, the majority German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia, known as the Sudetenland, became part of Nazi Germany according to the terms of the Munich Agreement. After World War II, in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, the vast majority of the people of the city were forcibly expelled because of their German ethnicity. In accordance with the Bene? decrees, their property was confiscated without compensation.
In 2012, 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, Russians, and Ukrainians.
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.
The city is accessible via the D6 motorway and inter-city public transport options include inter-city buses, Czech Railways, and Deutsche Bahn via the Karlovy Vary-Johanngeorgenstadt railway. Karlovy Vary Airport is an international airport located 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) south-east from the city, at the nearby village of Ol?ová Vrata. In winter 2020, the airport is only serviced by scheduled flights to Moscow.
It is also known for the popular Czech liqueur Becherovka and the production of the famous glass manufacturer Moser Glass, which is considered as the most luxurious Czech brand. The famous Karlovarské oplatky (Carlsbad wafers) originated in the city in 1867. It has also lent its name to "Carlsbad plums", candied stuffed zwetschgen.
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 box-office hit Casino Royale, both of which used the city's Grandhotel Pupp in different guises. Moreover, the Palace Bristol Hotel in Karlovy Vary had been used as a model for The Grand Budapest Hotel movie.
Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States (after which Carlsbad Caverns National Park is named), Carlsbad, California, USACarlsbad 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.
The Grandhotel Pupp
A bottle of Becherovka
Plaque indicating the building where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk resided while in Karlovy Vary