Charles's Spa Town: A tale inspired by the Karlovy Vary legend
by M.J. Heinrich
In Loket Castle, the gothic stronghold surrounded on three sides by the River Ohře in Bohemia, the king felt his gout flaring up in his right foot as he rose in the morning. Never mind, he thought -- and tried to walk -- but he couldn’t hide the pain. In the early morning light, the king could not see the concern on his valet’s face but he heard it in his voice.
“Your Highness, shall we cancel it?”
Absolutely not. We shall get through this.
The king felt better as he stepped outside the royal palace into the fresh dawn, the earth moist and the air redolent of wet bark and leaves from the storm the previous night. He greeted his entourage, who were in high spirits, bundled up and ready for the hunt. After happy banter on the castle grounds, the nobles were absorbed in a silence wholly receptive to nature; they rode to the sounds of the river, the tread of horses’ hooves on the soft earth, birds’ singing, and occasional barks, as the hounds jostled each other.
When they reached the confluence of the Rivers Ohře and Teplá, a gust of wind delivered the scent of a wild beast.⥵The hounds darted feverishly after a deer as it leapt higher into the forested hills. The king’s best hound got closest to the hart - and then disappeared from sight. Moments later, they heard loud thuds; branches breaking, then woeful howling. The king and one of his dukes exchanged looks and urged their horses onward. As he rode to the rescue, the king could not keep out memories from the Battle of Crécy - where he had been wounded; where he had lost his father and finest warriors…The battle came back sharply, darkening the day’s hunt. He steeled himself for a bloody scene and felt a searing pain rise up from his foot. He continued riding.
But the hound had only fallen into a pool of water, and was more surprised than injured. The king laughed loudly then, relieved - but stopped himself when he saw his powerful dog dissolving into embarrassment. Attendants pulled out the hound. “The water is hot, your Highness,” they reported. The king’s hound had lost the game, but he’d discovered natural hot springs. On the advice of one noble who was a keen scholar of ancient healing techniques, the king soaked in the hot springs before they returned to the castle.
That night in his chambers, the king felt a softening in the joints of his right foot, and all throughout his body. Something shifted inside – and he started to breathe differently. He giggled at the memory of his hound swimming in the pool. “We just giggled,” he thought, as he fell asleep. He dreamt of his father, who seemed gentler and kinder than he remembered him from life; in his dream his father was full of forgiveness – or was it he, the king, that felt the forgiveness? He entered a deep, restorative sleep. The next morning, his pain had gone away. He walked about in wonder, then knew what he had to do.
The King of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV founded a spa town around the hot springs where the hart had led his hound. In 1370, anno domino, he granted the village royal town rights. Today, you can visit Charles’s spa town in Czechia -- known as Karlovy Vary in Czech and Carlsbad in German -- and experience for yourself: healing springs ♨
⇒ Continue to Karlovy Vary Part 1:
Introduction | Wellness Weekend | The Thermal Springs | Walking, Dining, Shopping | Spa Experience
Legend of the Foundation of Karlovy Vary | Legend of Libuše | Further Information and Links