of Mariánské Lázně
Though the mineral-rich waters that rise up at one hundred locations in and around Marienbad had been known about, analysed and consumed for centuries, it was the monks from Teplá Monastery, 15km to the east, who first decided to create a spa for guests. The spot they chose, the site of today’s Cross Spring, was a boggy valley bottom lost in the Slavkovský Forest, a wild area that extends between Karlovy Vary and Marienbad. Abbott Reitenberger was the driving force behind the spa’s foundation, commissioning some of its most important buildings. Very soon the spa was attracting prominent guests – Goethe stayed here as early as 1823.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Marienbad was one of the most fashionable places to see and be seen among Europe’s wealthy and influential. Taking the waters in Marienbad was de rigueur and anyone who was anyone was no one if they couldn’t say they’d visited this West Bohemian spa town. Chopin shuffled his note paper on the main avenue, Kafka mulled over unrequited love in its cafes, Freud consulted his doctor in what’s now the town’s library and Edward VII of England is said to have clandestinely enjoyed the company of a local hat maker… Kipling and Tolstoy, Mark Twain and Nobel, Wagner and Dvorák, all strolled Marienbad’s colonnades and avenues, passed its opulent buildings erected by local architects and wandered one of the finest spa parks in Europe created by skilful monastery gardener Václav Skalník.
Having undergone a programme of renovation and rejuvenation for the past three decades, Marienbad retains its grand 19th-century ambience, but inside its ornate hotels and spa houses visitors can expect modern European spa care and wellness programmes of the highest quality. The town also attracts tourists on day trips from as far away as Nuremberg and Prague, and new hotels and facilities are being added every season.