Water spills from a spigot into a shallow fountain in Karlovy Vary.

A hot mineral spring in Karlovy Vary. Photo © Pavel Jakubec/123rf.

Karlovy Vary’s famous healing springs attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually from around the world looking to cure various metabolic, digestive, arthritic, and gynecological ailments.

The springs share many similarities in their basic compositions, with the main differences being in their temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide they possess, thereby producing varying reported healing effects. Colder springs tend to have a slight detoxifying effect, while warmer waters slow down the formation of bile and gastric stomach juices. The springs range 102-163°F and are all clearly marked with a plaque detailing their mineral content and temperature.

The springs themselves are: Thermal Spring (Thermal Spring Colonnade, daily 6am-6:30pm), Charles IV Spring (Market Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Lower Castle Spring (Castle Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Upper Castle Spring (Castle Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Market Spring (Market Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Mill Spring (Mill Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Nymph Spring (Mill Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Prince Vaclav Spring (Mill Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Libuše Spring (Mill Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Rock Spring (near Mill Colonnade, daily 24 hours), Freedom Spring (near Spa III, daily 24 hours), Park Spring (Military Spa Sanatorium, daily 24 hours), Snake’s Spring (Park Colonnade, daily 24 hours), and Štěpánka Spring (Spa IV, daily 24 hours). The springs are free to the public.

The 10 Commandments of Karlovy Vary’s Drinking Cure

  1. The thermal mineral waters of Karlovy Vary should only be imbibed after having consulted a qualified spa physician.
  2. Water should be consumed at the springs in order for the drinker to feel its full medicinal effects.
  3. Use only the widely available, traditionally shaped porcelain or glass cups.
  4. Do not smoke or drink alcohol. Secondhand smoke is considered to be just as harmful.
  5. Combine the drinking cure with light physical exercise such as walking.
  6. Try to remain in a relaxed, peaceful state of mind as much as possible.
  7. Repeat the drinking cure as recommended by your physician.
  8. Do not disturb other patients, regardless of how kind and friendly your motives might be.
  9. Do not use the mineral water to water nearby plants, and take special care not to spill it on the floor in the colonnades.
  10. Do not touch the spring stand or pipes while taking water from the fountain.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Prague & Budapest.