Karlovy Vary, CZECH REPUBLIC: Europe’s Open-air Salon

Karlovy Vary is known as ‘the largest open-air salon of Europe’, and has hosted royal families, European heads-of-state, high aristocracy and prominent artists. It is distinguished by a geyser-like spring phenomenon and unique composition of thermal water, innovative methods in balneology, and a prolific and outstanding architectural spa ensemble. The spa quarter follows the numerous hot springs that emerge in the Teplá (Warm) River valley and displays rich Historicist and Art Nouveau styles of architecture. The surrounding spa landscape is characterised by terraced valley sides, extravagant villas, promenades and pathways, and solitary lookout buildings. Nowhere today is the ‘drinking cure’ more evident than in the numerous beautiful colonnades where thousands of daily visitors may be seen drinking from traditionally-shaped porcelain spa cups.

Karlovy Vary from above

Karlovy Vary Lookout view

Historic Urban Landscape of the ‘Great Spa’

The spatial plan of the nominated property can be divided into:

  1. The linear spa district that is located along the sinuous Teplá River valley with the great thermal baths, numerous drinking taps at multiple sources, colonnades, structures for leisure and pleasure, and many hotels (some of them with baths and some that are extremely large and grand).
  2. The steep lower valley sides and plateaus with churches, villas, hotels, historic streets, parklands and villas.
  3. The forested steep upper valley sides and hill tops with extensive walks, panoramic overlooks, towers and restaurants.

Map Karlovy Vary
Volume 1-9 Karlovy Vary