Regional capital: Karlovy Vary
The Czech Republic’s second smallest reguin, known for its spa towns including the regional capital of Karlovy Vary (www.karlovyvary.cz), Marianske Lazne, Frantiskovy Lazne, Lazne Kynzvart, and Lazne Jachnymov. As part of the tradional spa experience, the region offers a wide range of opportunities for sports (horse,riding golf – www.kvgolf.cz) and a programme of regular cultural events: the Karlovy International Film Festival (www.kviff.cz), Dvorak’s Autumn Festival, JazzFest international jazz festival and the Beethoven Days festival in Karlovy Vary, and the International Chopin Festival in Marianske Lazne (www.chopinfestival.cz). Karlovy Vary is served by its own international airport (www.airport-k-vary-cz.) The town of Becov Chateau (www.becov.cz) is the repository of the Czeh Republic’s second most precious artefact after the Crown Jewels – the Saint Maurus Reliquary (an Early Romanesque chest from the early 13th century that used to hold the relics of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Maurus). The region’s traditional industries are glassmaking (www.moser-glass.com, www.crystalex.cz), porcelain production (www.thun.cz), and the manufacture of musical instruments (www.amati.cz); other traditional products include the Becherovka herbal liqueur (www.janbecher.cz) and mineral water (www.mattoni.cz). The region’s largest protected landscape area is Slavkovsky les (Slavkov Forest), an ancient cultural landscape, now thinly populated, with a wide range of ecosystems (forests, meadows, peat bogs, rock formations, mineral springs and gas emanations). A site of international importance is the SOOS Nature Reserve, a “moonscape” formed by mineral springs, “mud volcanoes” (mofettes) and white and yellow layers of mineral salts.Kursne hory (Ore Mountains) and parts of the Slavkov Forest offer excellent conditions for winter sports (www.ceskehory.cz/krusnehory).
The Czech Republic’s best known and largest spa town, founded around 1350. Interesting sights: Saint Andrew Church, Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Municipal Theatre, Mill Colonnade, Saint Mary Magdalene Church. The town is located in a romantic landscape in the foothills of the Ore Mountains. A major spa and social centre, Karlovy Vary has a rich programme of festival and concerts; another attraction is the offer of locally produced crystal glass and porcelain.
Marianske Lazne is the second largest town of the West Bohemian “spa triangle”. The town has more than a hundred cold ferrous mineral springs of differing chemical composition; some of them have been known since the 16 century. The town’s architecture is mostly Neoclassical; a prominent feature is a beautiful colonnade built in 1889 around the Singing Fountain.