Sunday, November 17, 2013

Franz's Spa

Františkovy Lázně (German: Franzensbad) was founded on 27 April 1793 as the Village of Emperor Franz and in 1807, it was officially named Františkovy Lázně (English: Franz's Spa). The spa is named after Franz I, Emperor of Austria, who is considered as its founder. The initially rural spa with a single spring known as Františkův pramen (Franz's Spring), a wooden colonnade, a few spa houses and a Social House soon became one of the most sought-after European spa resorts.The original village with lanes and the present-day Národní třída (National Avenue) serving as the spa promenade was broadened by three parallel streets to form a town layout. In order to achieve a genuine spa ambience, the current historical centre was surrounded by a wide belt of English parks that were to change the village into a garden town. All newly-built streets lead along the green belt, creating one of the most enchanting spa resorts in Europe – a spa embraced by a sea of parks and forest parks. In 1865, Emperor Franz Josef I. raised Františkovy Lázně to the status of a town. After connecting to the railway network in Saxony, Bavaria and Bohemia, the spa became a truly world resort and during its golden days before World War I, it was annually visited by up to 20,000 patients and almost 80,000 so-called “passer-by’s” – spa tourists. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, staying at the spa at least once in a year became quite fashionable among the high society. After World War II, the spa complex was nationalised and a single state-owned enterprise almost equal in size to the town itself was founded under the name Československé státní lázně a zřídla (Czechoslovak State Spas and Springs). Using the contemporary language, the spa served the working people and only a small number of foreign clients. The good level of medical care provided by physicians and medical staff was retained, however, the therapeutic facilities and spa houses were only renovated, and the development of the spa stagnated. In 1991, the majority of the therapeutic facilities were taken over by the joint-stock company Lázně Františkovy Lázně, a.s., which introduced a comprehensive plan of the reconstruction of all spa houses, as well as its concept of returning Františkovy Lázně among the world spa resorts. A similarly challenging plan was set out by the town management and today, newly-opened pensions and therapeutic facilities are being successfully run by private entrepreneurs. In 1992, Františkovy Lázně was declared an urban monument reserve and this began a completely new chapter of the history of the spa town. 

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