Marianske Lazne is one of the largest balneological resorts of the Czech Republic, located in a picturesque valley at an altitude of 600 meters and surrounded on three sides by mountains. The Czech name of the resort, Mariánské Lázně, is translated differently: and Marianskie-Lazni, and Marianskie Lazne, and Marianske Lazne, but in our article we will focus on the most readable and familiar version, in our opinion - Marianske Lazne or, in the old style, Marienbad. We hope that our modest guide to the attractions and festivals of the resort will help plan your vacation and not miss anything interesting. Also in the article you will find interesting ideas for souvenirs and useful life hacking for a comfortable rest in Marienbad.
The history of Marianske Lazne
The history of Marianske Lazne dates back to 1197. It was then, more than eight centuries ago, voivode Groznata founded a monastery in the Tepla town. The territory of modern Marienbad at that time consisted of dozens hectares of marshland area. For over four hundred years, the monks have been landscaping the land, clearing the roads and, unknowingly, turning a corner of the forest forgotten by God into a health resort. But the region was especially actively refined approximately in the mid-late 13th century, when the monks found the springs of mineral water and accidentally discovered its therapeutic properties. Being pious people, but far from stupid, they realized that they can make good money on the water and the news of miraculous springs began to spread throughout the Czech Republic, and then across Europe.
The first scientific studies of the properties of water were carried out at the dawn of the 17th century, but the turning point in the history of the resort city was 1779 year. Jan Neher, who worked as a physician at the monastery, obtained the consent of the prior and appointed several volunteer monks suffering from digestive problems to take a drinking course. Dr. Neher closely monitored the patients, experimented with dosages, eventually achieving excellent results: most subjects returned to normal digestion, appetite, and sleep became strong.
Marienbad developed rapidly, more and more were built spa hotels, the number of guests from other cities and countries grew steadily. And it’s not for nothing that the 19th century is considered the Golden Age of Marianske Lazne. Reviews of prominent personalities about rest and treatment in the depths of the Czech Republic, surrounded by mountains and forests served as an excellent advertisement for the resort. At one time, people came to improve their health in Marienbad: Johann Goethe, Chopin, Wagner, Gogol, Goncharov, Turgenev and many other celebrities. As you can see, guests from the Russian Empire actively visited the resort. They say that the members of the royal families, in particular, Nicholas II, were chosen from the Kremlin for the sake of a course of therapeutic water. In the last century, the resort, like the rest of Europe, shook many crises, but as a result, Marianske Lazne went through all adversity, was reborn from the ashes after World War II, survived the 1989 Velvet Revolution and became one of the leading spa resorts in the Czech Republic and Europe.
Attractions of Marianske Lazne
Marianske Lazne – is a small city (just over 50 km2), quiet and cozy. Young people do not come here to break away at nightclubs and inject adrenaline into the blood while engaging in active sports. The main attraction of Marienbad is its architecture. Various temples and palaces, castles and colonnades, parks and fountains - that's what the guides show to the guests of the resort. Choose memorable places and plan your own excursions in Marianske Lazne!
Colonnades and pavilions
Let's start a virtual tour of the city with the closest to us in spirit – mineral springs, or rather from the buildings that protect them. In Marienbad and its environs over the entire history of the city, more than 120 springs were discovered, 40 of which today are used with varying intensity to treat patients. The vast majority of springs are fenced and hidden from natural adversity by gazebos and pavilions, but colonnades are built up around the most popular. The most recognizable and large is the Main Colonnade, also known as the Maxim Gorky colonnade, where "Caroline", "Rudolph" and "Main" springs are brought.
Covered gallery-promenade was opened in 1889 on the site of the old kursal. The colonnade is made in the Baroque style with the addition of elements of modernism. It is 119 meters long and 12 meters wide. The gallery was intended for unhurried patients walking and drinking mineral water, but now the colonnade has become a gathering point for tourists and local residents, as it is surrounded by a picturesque park with shady avenues, benches and the famous Singing Fountain. It is here that all kinds of concerts, exhibitions, fairs and street performances are held all year round. Do not be lazy to go inside the gallery and admire the vaulted ceilings, dotted with whimsical frescoes by Josef Vyletyala.
The atmosphere of calm and peace is felt in Marianske Lazne most of all outside the city, away from tourists and spa hotels. Many wonderful places for relaxation can be found on the hills surrounding the resort. There are several dozen observation platforms, but six of them are especially popular.
- Amalie Observation Deck. In 1827, the Prince of Saxe-Altenburg ordered a wooden pavilion for his wife, Amalia, to be built on Zizkov Hill. Previously, the site was called "Belvedere", but after installing the pavilion, the name was changed.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Hill. On the same Zizkov Hill, but on a different slope, there is a neo-Gothic observation platform, built in 1857 in honor of King Frederick VI.
- Mesceri Observation Deck. In 1850, Marienbad was visited by a very distinguished guest - the governor of the Czech lands, Baron von Mesceri. The local authorities showed maximum hospitality and, as a tribute, they built for the distinguished guest a pavilion on the plateau outside the city with a picturesque view of the surrounding rocks and stones.
- Hamelika Observation Deck. The most beautiful and breathtaking place in Mariánské Lázně, according to many travelers who have been here. Construction of the site and the 20-meter observation tower was carried out in the period from 1875 to 1878 at the top of a hill with a height of 722 meters above sea level. A bird's-eye view offers a gorgeous view of the Czech forest and Dylen hill.
- Carola Observation Deck. Not far from the Forest spring, on the hillside, you will find a viewing pavilion, built in 1875 and named after Caroline, the Queen of Saxony who was visiting Marienbad.
- Tower on Lord's Hill. The newest of all observation platforms of the resort, opened in November 2008. Get ready for a little warm-up, because at the top of the 40-meter tower you will have to climb stairs of 207 steps (as you climb the 15th floor). But the place was chosen very well, from the observation deck offers a picturesque view of Marianske Lazne, the Slavkov Forest and Dylen Hill.
Our historical essay on Marianske Lazne has repeatedly touched the monastery, from which the history of the city began. So, it still exists and opens its doors to guests all year round! We already wrote that it was built in 1197. Since then, it has been rebuilt twice: in the 17th century, the entire decoration was changed from Gothic to Baroque, and several buildings were completed; and at the very beginning of the last century, work on the renovation and restoration of the monastery ended.
The oldest building is the church of St. Mary, in which the founder of the monastery was buried. But, as the architects did not try, the styles were mixed so much that you would not find another such building in the whole Czech Republic: the Romanesque nave, the apse in the Gothic style, and the interior decor and turrets are 100% baroque. Inside, guests will experience a real art museum: exquisite sculptures, paintings, stained glass windows and old paintings will tell about the history of Marianske Lazne. But it is better to see once, as they say. Special attention should be paid to the library at the monastery, which has collected on the shelves unique handwritten and printed books, whose age sometimes exceeds a thousand years. Tourists have access to almost all the rooms and buildings of the monastery.
It is a miniature park. It is not by chance that Bohemianium was recognized as a park of national importance, because in just two decades of its existence (opening took place on June 19, 1999), it became one of the most visited tourist places of Marianske Lazne. Initially, the park’s exposition included 25 reduced copies of the most famous buildings in the Czech Republic, but each year their number gradually increased and as of 2017 there are about 50. Walking through neat alleys, you can see strikingly accurate models (made in 1:25 scale) of buildings such as the castles of Cerven Lgota, Karlova Krona, Kynžvart and Karlštejn, the town of Uherske Hradište, the tower of the castle in Krumlov, the Black Tower in Budejovice, a farm in Holesovice, cable car on Mount Jested and several dozen others. Do not forget that all models are installed under the open sky and in bad weather, the tour does not deliver much joy. The park is open from April 1 to November 2, daily, from 10 am to 6 pm.
Prototypes of many models of the Bohemian park are located here, in Marianske Lazne. For example, the Kynzhvart castle (sometimes the Kunzhvart variant is found in the Runet). Neither more nor less, but the castle Kynžvart, built on the outskirts of Marienbad, now considered one of the finest monuments in the whole Czech Republic. A luxurious mansion in the neoclassic style surrounded by 100 hectares of English park, decorated with rare species of trees and flowers, cozy pavilions, gazebos and a pond. The value of the castle is not only architecture, but also collections of coins, weapons, decorations, porcelain and a huge Chancery Library stored within its walls. There is no systematic exposition, and rare, unusual and sometimes very valuable antiquities are simply arranged in rooms and halls in the order left by their previous owners. You can walk around the Kinžvart castle and the park all day and learn a lot about the history of Marianske Lazne and the Czech Republic.
Prince Vladimir Church
The first attempts to build an Orthodox church in Mariánské Lázně were undertaken as early as the 20s years of the 19th century, but problems constantly arose: there was no funding, it was not possible to agree with the authorities on land allocation. Only in 1899 churches allocated 800 m2 of land and in July 1900 the foundation stone was laid. The temple is built in the Russian-Byzantine style, both domes of the church are crowned with heads-onions. The decoration of the Prince-Vladimir Church is interesting, above all, wall paintings, a ceramic two-tier iconostasis and icons of the letter of the XVII century.
Catholic church of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary
Another famous object of temple architecture Marianske Lazne is the Church of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, founded in the middle of the XIX century. The church is made in the Neo-Byzantine style. From the Goethe square there is a view of the central arched entrance, above which a gothic stained-glass window in the shape of a rose and two turrets-belltowers with a clock. A 33-step staircase leads to the entrance, which is a reference to the biblical age of Christ. Outside, the church is decorated with sculptures of saints, figured windows and decorative cornices, inside - with gold, stucco and images, the upper dome imitates the starry sky, and in the decoration of the elements red granite is used. Be sure to go up to the terrace, which offers a beautiful view of Goethe Square and the adjacent old streets.
Lovers of nature and hiking can go to the outskirts of the city and take an interesting route through the Slavkov Forest. The territory of the park is 10 hectares, and if you do not hurry to go along the nature trail, then around in an hour you will pass the route. It runs through a deciduous forest, in which rare species of trees and shrubs, grasses and flowers will often be found. A lot of useful and interesting information can be gleaned from information boards installed along the entire path. 20 shields tell about the ecology and geological features of the region, provides infographics about the surrounding vegetation, the animal world and minerals. The forest is very fresh and the morning walk is a great way to recharge your batteries for the whole day.
Events and Festivals at Marianske Lazne
The peak of the influx of tourists in Marianske Lazne falls on the period from March to October and probably should not be surprised by the fact that it is during the warm season that the main part of major cultural and sports events, festivals and fairs. We suggest to familiarize with a brief calendar of events Marianske Lazne.
On the third Saturday of June, Children's Day is celebrated, here called Indian Day. Competitions and contests for children and their parents are held, symbolic prizes are played out, animators are working on the holiday. So kids won't be bored.
In late June, the local racetrack held speedway competitions, variety of track racing. If you like great speed, drive and competitive excitement, then this event will definitely enjoy. And motorists should definitely visit the annual gathering of historic cars, held in early July. Developing the topic of sport, we will note three more events: the city run Spa Run, the road race around Marianske Lazne in July and the mountain bike competition in August.
Fans of classical music and cinema will also have something to do in the summer. The jazz music festival “Jazz Resort” takes place all last week of June near the Main Colonnade. Since 1959, every year, on the third week of August, the Chopin Festival is held in Marianske Lazne. And in the last days of August, the Marienbad Film Festival starts - the film festival, which is inferior in popularity to Karlovy Vary, but which does not become less interesting.
Autumn events are mostly associated with literature and folklore. Thus, in mid-September, the 4-day international folklore festival “Mariana Autumn” begins, filling the environs of the colonnade with bright national costumes and sounds of folk music. In October, "Goethe Autumn" is held - the main literary festival of the year in Marianske Lazne. Active youth should enjoy the Snow Film Fest - a film festival, in which documentary and feature films about extreme winter sports are shown: mountaineering, snowboarding, skiing, etc.
As in the whole of the Czech Republic, the main event of the winter is the celebration of the New Year and Christmas. At the beginning of the second week of December, the Christmas market opens, where you can buy all kinds of sweets, get acquainted with the customs of Advent, listen to Christmas tales, and craftsmen exhibit the best craft works. Sign event - the lighting of the Christmas tree near the colonnade. Among the important sporting events worth mentioning is the European Slalom Cup, the Snowboard World Cup and the Open Chess Festival, in which both professionals and amateurs take part. You have a chance to enter the history of Marianske Lazne! Also near the springs held skiing competitions among amateurs.
March is notable for stand modeling competitions, during which contestants present small but amazingly accurate models of cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and other equipment to jury members and all guests of the even. The “Expedition Chamber” film festival is held in March. The name speaks for itself: all films are devoted to adventure, conquest and beauty of the wild nature.
In April, the inhabitants of Marianske Lazne celebrate Maslenitsa and Easter (may fall on May), accompanying the traditional customs of painting eggs, weaving and dancing. In late April, the traditional opening is held after the winter of the Singing Fountain in the city center. In the mountains of Karkonosze, the feast of the "Burning of the Witches" is celebrated. But no horror and echoes of the times of the Inquisition! Only costumed festivities, accompanied by eating fried sausages, performances of children's theater and mask competitions. April ends with an exciting tourney on petanque among fans. If you love this French national sport, go to the Ferdinand spring and challenge the local craftsmen.
The main event of May, and of the whole spring, is the opening of the holiday season. On the second weekend of May, all the sources are consecrated during the solemn procession, divine services are held in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. And the entire celebration is accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Loud music sounds throughout the city, sweets and crafts are sold in bright tents and tents at the fair, people dress up in historical costumes and go crazy in every way. Within reason, of course. Important events for the Czechs - the celebration of the liberation of the city and the festival of mutual understanding. These holidays, of course, should be respected, but they are hardly of interest to the tourist.
What to bring from Marianske Lazne
The range of souvenirs in Marianske Lazne almost completely coincides with Karlovy Vary, but there are also a couple of branded gifts. Everything in order.
- Waffles. The famous Czech oplatka from 1840 are made not only in Karlovy Vary, but also in Marienbad, at the Opavia plant. Brand products can be recognized by a blue, growing band with the brand name, Opavia, and a golden waffle semi-circle. The most popular product is Lázeňské oplatky "Kolonáda". Translation, perhaps, would be superfluous.
- Mineral water. In pharmacies and shops, bottled water is sold from springs such as "Magnesia". And it is better to buy it, and not independently collect from a spring, so you will have more chances to bring home a really curative drink, rather than exhausted water.
- Mugs. Not ordinary mugs, but bouvettes - highly artistic cups with a spout for drinking mineral water. They are produced in the village of Stanovishte, on the outskirts of Marianske Lazne.
- Alcohol. There are a lot of Becherovka in shops, but it is still a symbol of Karlovy Vary. Better look at "Marianskolazensky Liqueur" infused with 13 herbs. The digestive tract will say “Thank you!” If you take the liqueur in small portions. A good gift for friends will be the products of the local brewery “Chodovar”: the beer of the same name, the unusual beer vodka “Chodská Pivovice” and its own brand of mineral water “IL-SANO”.
- Tea. The memory of pleasant and refreshing walks in the Slavkov Forest will help preserve the fragrant fruit tea produced by the local company “Dr. Popov.
- Cosmetics. Healing mineral water from the Marianske Lazne springs formed the basis of natural cosmetics brand "MarienQ". Also in the recipe of its creation is the Original Marianske Peat (Originální Mariánská rašelina), which has a cosmetic and anesthetic effect. This peat, by the way, can be purchased separately.
- Jewelry. In Marienbad, you will find several large jewelry stores, whose showcases are filled with fine gold and silver jewelry, often with Czech garnets.