There’s no question that the Czech Republic’s Mariánské Lázně is a stunning place in the Bohemian countryside, but its not its pure beauty that draws people to this magical place. Known as a young spa town that only dates back to the early 19th century, it’s also a powerful one that boasts over 40 healing mineral springs which are known to have a healing effect. Mineral water in this area is used for baths and for drinking cures and each spring has a different chemical composition. For example, some may be high in iron whereas others may be high in salts, including Glauber’s salts. This diversity of mineral springs is what makes this destination so unique and why people seeking healing or a rejuvenating retreat in a natural environment, flock here every year. Below, the picturesque Colonade in the center of town, which is surrounded by a beautiful lush green park.
Medical Spa Treatments
There are no shortage of hotels in this spa town, many of which have medical spa facilities on the premises. For example at the Danubius group of hotels where we stayed, you can access the amenities, spas and pools at any of their properties in the area. We stayed at the oldest facility Centralni Lazne, where we experienced a unique oxygen treatment at Maria Spa, the original town spa house. The other nice thing about the Danubius hotels is that you can walk to another property through back hallways without having to walk outside, a nice benefit during colder winter months or if you simply want privacy. Below, the oxygen experience, which is administered through intranasal tubes that you wear in your nose for around 25-30 minutes. A little uncomfy at first, but we quickly got used to it especially as the meditative music started playing. The air being inhaled is enriched with about 40-60% oxygen at a reasonable level of humidity.
An increased supply of oxygen into the body enhances the immune system, improves heart activity and the elasticity of the lungs, helps improve your mind’s efficiency and is meant to be excellent for overall health. Sometimes a vitamin drink is also offered as part of the treatment, although we didn’t consume anything other than water after our oxygen therapy experience. There are more invasive treatments as well which require a doctor’s recommendation, such as natural dry carbon gas, which helps to improve blood circulation, kidney activity and sexual functions, in addition to having an anti-inflammatory effect. It is also administered by injection to reduce pain, improve circulation and can enhance healing.
Roman Baths @ Nove Lazne
The most luxe property of the Danubius group is Nove Lazne, which houses the original Roman Baths that date back to 1896 and includes three pools, a whirlpool and bubble baths as well as saunas with three different temperatures, a steam room and a sanarium. It’s exquisite inside, from the amenities and architecture to the Romanesque statues in the corner and the top notch saunas, which I tried on more than one occasion.
Other Danubius properties include Spa Hotel Labe, which provides charming views of the Colonnade, the Spa Hotel Svoboda, which is surrounded by nature, Spa Hotel Vltava, which is surrounded by a forest, Butterly, which given its modern architecture and design, makes for a better choice for business travel, the Grandhotel Pacifik, which runs along the Main Street, and Hvezda which extends from the renowned Imperial.
Peloids are inorganic and organic pottages, which are used for compresses and wraps. They are made of peat and other mud and can be found around the springs. For treatments, you typically have them applied for 20-30 minutes once they have reached the 40°C. Peat wraps are used for treating locomotive system disorders and respiratory system disorders. Special treatments are offered in the form of peat vaginal tampons, which are used for treating chronic gynaecological inflammations and sterility in women.
Thermal Mineral Waters
Spa care in Mariánské Lázně is oriented towards locomotive system disorders, kidney and urinary tract ailments, the respiratory tract, digestive system diseases and gynaecological, oncological and metabolical ailments as well as blood circulation issues. There are healing waters which you can drink from fountains in all the Danubius hotels and many of the other properties in the town as well. While there are around over 40 cold mineral springs in the town, there are around 160 springs in the broader environs — these springs are used for the successful treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, the nerves, and the digestive system, as well as skin problems and disorders of the breathing and motor apparatuses. They even offer beauty treatments today to keep up with the latest trends.
People bring their own porcelain cup to fill up and then drink out of it, as shown below. While these were shot in spa town Karlovy Vary, the cups are the same throughout the healing spa towns where you can drink thermal waters in the area. They’re referred to as “spa cups” which typically are around 220 ml. Doctors recommend filling up at a spring and then taking small sips over about five minutes. Cold mineral waters are used for some ailments but not all — for example, they use hot mineral water for gall bladder, live and pancreas problems and constipation. They also suggest not drinking the waters without talking to a doctor first as the water could be harmful, especially for people with high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems.
While the two very short videos shot are a bit silly, you’ll get an idea of the property, at least from the outside.
Healing springs worth noting in Mariánské Lázně include Lesni Pramen (Forest Spring), Krizovy Pramen (Cross Spring), Rudolfuv Pramen (Rudolph Spring), Karolinin Pramen (Caroline Spring), Ambrozuv Pramen (Ambrose Spring), and Ferdinanduv Pramen (Ferdinand Spring). All mineral springs in this spa town are cold, ranging from 8 to 10 degrees C. Because of that, the springs contain a high amount of carbon dioxide.
Each spring is different and treats different ailments, conditions and issues. We are merely reporting what the spring waters are suggested and recommended for, however as always, consult with a doctor before drinking when in the Czech Republic. According to the Marienbad Danubius literature, Forest Spring can be helpful for people with stomach problems, the Cross Spring is useful for treating gall bladder, liver, pancreas and constipation, Rudolph is considered good for those with urinary tract issues, whereas Ambrose has a lot of iron, so can help with anaemia. Apparently Goethe drank from the Ambrose Spring regularly during his visits.
The Town & its Lush Parks
There are plenty of benches throughout the park where you can veg for an hour or two, read a book, marvel at the ducks in the pond or watch people walk by.
The architecture is as remarkable as the town’s natural parks, pretty gardens, and fountain.
Below, the view of the side streets of the town from my hotel balcony.
Arts, Music & Shopping
There is no shortage of shopping possibilities in Mariánské Lázně as it’s been a popular tourist destination for many years. From the non-traditional to the traditional, you can find it, even high end shoe stores selling luxury brands. There were stalls set up along the edge of the park that sold artisan wares, from scarves and tablecloths to semi-precious gems and stones.
Elegant clothing stores can be found in the center of town, Bohemian glassware and jewelry stores are also plentiful as are spots to find natural lotions, creams and even toothpaste, all made from natural sources and ingredients nearby.
A couple of musical “acts” we heard locally while there in September below: from jazz to acoustic….
Where to Eat
Villa Patriot Restaurant
This charming find is centrally located not far from the Colonnade and the Singing Fountain. If the weather permits, I’d strongly recommend sitting outside on the patio as it’s incredibly charming and has lovely views.
Dishes are very classic and influenced by both Czech and French cuisine, from veal pate and foie gras, salads and veggies, to seafood, game, ham, turkey and roast beef. My favorite offering of the bunch was their homemade Pumpkin Soup pictured below (oh so delish!) We had Tiramasu and fresh strawberries for dessert.
Details: Villa Patriot Restaurant | Dusíkova 62/4, 353 01 Mariánské Lázně | +420 354 673 143
I love this centrally located spot right downtown. “Golden Balls” is apparently based on the tradition of the house bearing the same name, which was built on swamps in 1807, a year before the official launch of the town. The restaurant used to serve overnight pilgrims who came for the healing effects of the waters only few meters away, the most famous Marienbad spring – Cross Spring. The interior and décor were reminiscent of the original baths era, which includes vaulted ceilings, original wood beams, period-style furniture, countless historical objects, period engravings, paintings, candlesticks, clocks and other items. They focus on classic Czech cuisine, from various kinds of meat, fresh game from nearby Slavkov, traditional chicken dishes, fish, marine and freshwater fish, shrimp and seafood, real Russian caviar, New Zealand lamb, veggies and more than 40 kinds of organic fragrant herbs from nearby farms.
They also offer a collection of more than 60 kinds of wines, from local traditional Moravian growers to classic French (including the great Chateau), Italian and Spanish varieties, to the wines from Australia, New Zealand, Chile and California. Each day, there’s live classical music from local violinists and pianists. Two thumbs up for the service, the ambiance and the food! The ambiance is really the thing that has you at hello as soon as you walk through the doors — the outdoor patio with its quirky massive fork in the entrance to its ancient candles, books and other relics scattered around the inside dining room.
On the outside patio…..
Details: Uzlate Koule / Restaurant “Golden Ball” | Nehrova 26 | 353 01 Marianske Lazne | +00420 354 624 455 | [email protected]
The Singing Fountain
The Singing Fountain is worth visiting anytime of day or night but particularly when they plan the classic works of the greats, such as Antonín Dvořák, Giuseppe Verdi, P.I. Tchaikovsky, W.A. Mozart and the film music musician Ennio Morricone. This beautiful structure features a 12-piece stone sculpture representing a flower in the center of its shallow bowl and the core of the flower is made of polished stainless steel. The fountain contains ten water jet systems with more than 250 water jets and when the fountains are active, the water gushes from the jet in the center up to a height of around six meters. Typically, the opening music is a song by the Czech composer Petr Hapka which is followed by Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Gounod, Smetana, Dvorak and others. The music plays at every odd hour and has been doing so since it opened in 1986. Apparently the Singing Fountain is only open during the warmer months, i.e., May till October and closed during winter.
Above and below, the Singing Fountain by day immediately following a musical “performance.”
At night, the fountain is equally dreamy: Carol (from Wandering Carol) and I below, hamming it up near midnight.
Here’s a short video I shot of the fountain “in action.”
And, singing by night….
Romanesque statues can be found in many of the properties throughout the town (below taken at Nove Lazne)
King Edward’s Private Bath Cabin
Also inside Marianske Lázně’s luxe Nove Lazne where as mentioned above, you can bathe in their Roman Baths surrounded by columns from 1896, you can also have a treatment in what was once King Edward’s private bath cabin — yes, really. We had a tour of the facility where we learned about the history of this original bath house and the architecture surrounding it. Talk about mesmerizing. Have a look — the attention to details is extremely decadent and beautiful!
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