After we have already presented Karlovy Vary and Krnov to you in detail in our blog, our journey through West Bohemia continues today and we will go to the outermost part of the country, where just over the German border a very special spa awaits you. Františkovy Lázně looks like an open-air museum, which is much better known than its mere 5500 inhabitants would suggest. In the following, we would like to introduce you to the most beautiful Františkovy Lázně sights and show you what the town has to offer despite its small size.
This is Františkovy Lázně
Only six kilometers separate Františkovy Lázně from the regional capital Cheb , with which it is historically strongly connected. Until the middle of the 19th century, Františkovy Lázně was still part of Cheb, where several healing springs had been discovered in the 15th century.
With the separation of Františkovy Lázně from Cheb, the first boom in spa tourism took place. Goethe, who visited the town more than thirty times, Emperor Franz I, Theodor Herzl, Prince Metternich, Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Franz Kafka, the last Austrian Emperor Charles I, and Václav Havel all appreciated the healing springs of the smallest of the Bohemian spas, with just over 5000 inhabitants. The place was often visited for a follow-up cure after longer stays in Karlovy Vary or Mariánské Lázne?
Despite its small size, the town has a whole 24 state-recognized healing springs, all of which are significantly cooler than those of Karlovy Vary and were formerly used not for drinking but only for bathing cures and are among the most exciting Františkovy Lázně sights. In contrast to Mariánské Lázne and Karlovy Vary, things here are also noticeably more tranquil and cozy, making you feel “like visiting good friends,” as the Czech Tourist Office puts it.
Today, the small spa town is above all a paradise for strollers; more than 250 hectares of parks characterize the image of the flat little town in the Cheb Basin. By the way, you can hardly get lost, the historic spa center comprises only five streets running parallel to each other from north to south, surrounded by a ring of parks. The flat terrain and proximity to Germany make the town very popular with German seniors, who make up almost half of the guests.
But enough of the preface, you are surely already eager to discover the most beautiful Františkovy Lázně sights.
Glauber Springs Drinking Hall (Dvorana Glauberových pramenů)
Let’s start in the Františkovy Lázně spa district. In 1920, three new springs were discovered in the middle of the center, the church spring and the Glauber III and IV springs. Ten years later, a wonderful oval foyer was completed, penned by Ernst Engelhart. The four sgraffito at the ends of the hall symbolize the development of Franzensbad into a modern spa and show, among others, the water carriers of Cheb.
The latter, by the way, had not been very enthusiastic about the hall; in 1791 they destroyed some of the installations and dared to revolt when they saw themselves deprived of their business basis by the canalization of the springs. The middle spring is located below ground level and is said to have the highest carbon dioxide content of any spring in the world.
Social House (Společenský dům)
The social house in the style of classicism and neo-Renaissance was one of the first buildings in the city, the foundation stone was laid already at the end of the 18th century. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Františkovy Lázně and for decades was the most important social meeting place for illustrious spa guests who ate, debated and held balls here. Today it houses the wonderful Goethe Restaurant, a Viennese coffeehouse-style café and the former casino, which is no longer open.
New colonnade with gas bath (Nová kolonáda s Plynovými lázněmi)
Across from the Social House stands another eye-catcher, the neoclassical New Colonnade designed by Gustav Wiedermann, one of Františkovy Lázněs architecturally most exciting sights. The foyer now houses restaurants and stores, including one with wafers, for which the region is so famous, and the nice Café Kolonada serving Italian cuisine. Adjacent to the L-shaped colonnade is the gas bath, reserved for spa guests. Here natural CO² is used for treatments. The entrance to the gas bath is “guarded” by two sphinxes on the skin street, which are supposed to symbolize the prosperity of the city.
Church of the Raising of the Cross (Kostel Povýšení svatého Kříže)
The Roman Catholic parish church of the town celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2020. When Emperor Franz I, whose equestrian statue you can find right next door in the town park, visited the town at that time, he was pointed out the lack of churches in Františkovy Lázně. The emperor financed the construction from a state fund, although the actual costs were more than twice as high as initially foreseen. Exploding construction costs in public projects are thus far from being a phenomenon only of our time …
The church is one of the few examples of Empire-style churches in the Czech Republic. Above the neat yellow facade with its four columns rises the chic bell tower above the gable, where concerts are still played on a 19th-century organ (for dates, see notices at the entrance). Inside, the most impressive features are the paintings by Wilhelm Kander, who had already been commissioned to decorate the Holy Cross Chapel at Prague Castle in the mid-19th century, and the Baroque pews, some of which are still original.
City Park (Městské sady)
The city park to the north of the spa district offers a beautiful, unspoiled contrast to the often somewhat sterile spa parks in the region. Although there are well-kept hedges here as well, there are also interesting places such as a monument in honor of the Czechoslovakians who died in World War II, an equestrian statue of Emperor Franz I in the south of the park, and next to it the highlight of the park, a chic music pavilion, where concerts are always held during the season.
Olga Church (Kostel sv. Olgy)
Among the many beautiful buildings in the center, the church dedicated to St. Olga of Kiev, which belongs to the Orthodox Church of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, stands out. It was built between 1881 and 1889 under Gustav Wiedermann in the neo-Byzantine style, making it the oldest Orthodox church in the Czech Republic. The construction was financed by donations, mainly from Russian spa guests. After the Second World War, many Orthodox Czechs came to the region from what is now western Ukraine, and some Orthodox Slovaks also moved here. To this day, their descendants form the main part of the community.
The icons inside are donations from several Orthodox countries such as Russia and Greece, while the iconostasis dates back to 1975. Interesting detail: the religious feast days shown above all fall in the course season. The iconostasis is in the style of the so-called Vosnetsov school, which is hardly used in Russia today. A few years ago, the church received relics of several saints through donations from the Sergiyev Posad Monastery north of Moscow, which now rest in capsules in the large wooden cross in front of the iconostasis. Among others, supposed body parts of St. Valentine and St. Ludmilla of Bohemia, the first Christian ruler of the country, can be admired here.
Imperial Spa (Císařské lázně)
The largest spa building in Františkovy Lázně was built in 1880 in the neo-Renaissance style and was designed by Gustav Wiedermann and Karl Haberzettl. The financing of one of the most beautiful Františkovy Lázně sights was provided by the St. Petersburg banker Singer. The central atrium with its French-style dome and gallery is particularly magnificent. Concerts are still held here. Today, the spa with its 120 or so treatment rooms is mainly used as a spa, for example for elaborate mud treatments.
Natalie Spring (Pramen Natálie)
In 1878, three springs were discovered in a wooded area to the east of the center, and they quickly became very popular due to their healing properties. When a Serbian princess named Natalie visited the spring two years later, it was named after her. After a first provisional superstructure, a wonderful imperial yellow colonnade was built in the interwar period, which was also visited for a long time due to its relative seclusion and the refreshingly cool water of 10 °C. The spring was also used as a spa. At that time, a second building boom began in the city. Not far from the spring run tracks, over which even today moor from the surrounding area is driven to the center, where it is then processed and forwarded to the emperor’s bath.
Lookout tower Salingburg (Rozhledna Salingburg)
On the occasion of the 500. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the local medicinal springs, Gustav Wiedermann built a lookout tower in the neo-Gothic style on what was then a relatively unwooded hill on the edge of what was then Franz Joseph Park, southeast of the city center. The result was a kind of mini fairy-tale castle, which today can be reached from the center within a few minutes via a beautiful walkway. The small lookout tower is not only one of the most unusual Franzensbad sights, but it also offers a great opportunity for relaxation and a good view of the dam game enclosure below.
Forest Park America (Lesopark America)
Františkovy Lázně is the closest European city to America, residents like to joke. Southwest of the center is an idyllic forest with a 45-hectare lake and several ponds surrounding it, which can be easily reached on a short hike from the center, by bike or by mini-train. There is not only a unique bird sanctuary with a lookout pavilion, a boat rental and two recommended restaurants Chaloupka u Vody and Red Baron, but also a free mini zoo with a playground. North of the lake is the small swan pond with some of the elegant animals.
Františkovy Lázně Book Tip
You speak German, liked the sights of Františkovy Lázně and you want to make a trip to the Bohemian Spa Triangle yourself? Then my travel guide “CityTrip Böhmisches Bäderdreiecke” published by Reise Know-How Verlag is just right for you. Here I describe not only some more Franzensbad sights, but also Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázne? and Cheb in detail and present not only sights, but also provide you with many practical tips about your trip to the Czech Republic.
Hotel tips Františkovy Lázně
- Hotel Bohemia*, Klostermannova 92, on the outskirts of Františkovy Lázně, is one of the few non-spa hotels in town, has a restaurant serving Czech cuisine (homemade cakes), a wellness studio, and a playground for children. Very good value for money.
- Imperial*, Dr. Pohoreckého 3. Historic events once took place in this four-star house, because it was here that the future Emperor Charles, the last Austrian Emperor, met his future wife Zita for the first time. The outwardly perhaps the most beautiful hotel in the city offers, in addition to spa treatments, fitness, mini golf, its own parking lot, a restaurant and free admission to the attached Aquaforum.
- Pawlik*, 5. května 106. The huge complex on the edge of the spa district leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to countless rooms in various categories, it has its own water park, parking, a buffet restaurant, a wonderful lounge, a small forest area, a children’s playground, bicycle rental and a mini zoo. The spa hotel is deliberately not only aimed at older guests, but is also open to families. An underground tunnel leads to the Imperial Spa, which is run by the same company.
How did you like the article about Františkovy Lázně sights? What other sights do you know about Františkovy Lázně? Let us know and write us a comment!