Goethe, Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Liszt, and others have found inspiration in the spa town of Karlovy Vary. For more than 400 years the rich and famous have flocked to Carlsbad to "take the waters" of the 12 natural hot springs which range in temperature up to 161 degrees.
What that means in today's terms is that visitors hoping for cures for their ailments visit a "doctor" who prescribes various treatments including drinking from specifics springs at specific times or a specific number of times. You buy a special cup that ensures your don't contaminate the public springs.
There are five colonnades throughout the town to mark the springs.
Thermal Springs Colonnade - a symbol of the largest Czech spa, but also their everlasting pulsing heart. It was completed in 1975. The thermal spring shoots water up to 14 meters high.
Mill Colonnade - built between 1871 and 1881, by the same architect who designed the National Theatre in Prague, it is 132 meters long and 13 meters wide (aka BIG). There are 12 statures on the terrace that each represent a particular month of the year.
This guy was funny. He saw me taking pictures and was all, "take one of me!" His hand is a little blurry because he was giving me a thumbs up and I snapped too soon!
Orchard Colonnade - Originally constructed in 1881, only part of the original structure remains. In 2001 a new spring, "Snake Spring" was brought to the west rotunda. It is one of the coldest springs at about 90 degrees.
Market Colonnade - built in 1883 on the site of the first Karlovy Vary Town Hall. The founder on the town, Charles IV, successfully treated his injuries in the local spring.
Chateau Colonnade - is the newest colonnade and was completed in 1913. It was built in the oldest part of town. It was closed the day I was there.
Along with drinking the water to cure you, there are also spa wafers you should eat. I bought some wafers, but didn't take any pictures. They had the texture and consistency of styrofoam - so I was suspicious about actually eating one. But they tasted okay - in fact, they were pretty good. There were several flavors available - I bought the coconut ones and they really did taste like coconut ... with a styrofoam texture. Weird.
The town is actually really beautiful, but it was a cold, rainy day and I was still suffering from a sore tailbone and a cold I picked up in Budapest so I was less than impressed, overall. My friend Jill went a week or so before (in good weather and with her mom, who was visiting from the states) and had only good things to say about Karlovy Vary.