Imperial Spa, historical view from the northwest, to the rear is the Peat Pavilion, Karlovy Vary, before 1918

sbírka Vladimíra Dleska

Spa Technology with Steel – Cast-Iron Structures in Karlovy Vary

The Imperial Spa (Kaisersbad / Císařské lázně) is one of the largest and artistically richest spa houses in Karlovy Vary. A new peat spa was built on the site of the former Baroque brewery in the period of 1893 – 1895, following the plans of the well-known Viennese architectural partners Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. The interior of this spectacular building, built in the historicist style of the French Neo-Renaissance, conceals magnificent details combined with unusual comfort and exceptionally modern technical provisions for its era. In the front section of the building are public halls, parlors, and waiting rooms, where the spa’s clientele used to wait for their procedures or could rest once they were finished. The atrium, i.e., semi-circular part of the building, is surrounded with a ring of bathing cabins. On the 1st floor in the central buttress is a large hall, called the Zander Hall, where equipment for Swedish gymnastics was installed in line with the principles of Dr. Zander’s exercise method. The dispositional facilities of the spa’s operations were absolutely unique: a total of 120 bathing rooms, the most valuable and precious of them being the Princely Bath (Fürstenbad). Situated on the right side of the pavilion’s front section, it was reserved for the most prominent guests. The spa’s provisions included a luxuriously decorated changing room (powder room) and resting room. All other bathing rooms, both on the ground and upper floor, had their own individual changing room and cabin. Particularly special, and indeed unique, was the system of preparing and delivering peat to the individual bathing chambers. The peat was prepared and mixed for the spa in a separate building, following the ingenious solution of Fellner and Helmer based on the concept that everything that might disturb spa operations at the Imperial Spa was concentrated in a separate facility. The bathing procedure progressed as follows: A cart containing peat was pushed into the basement of the building to the rear, where it was emptied into a pit situated above the entrance to the building. From there, it was immediately lifted and forwarded onward for sorting, i.e., cleansing. Then, the clean peat was dropped into a system of pipes connected to six large wooden mixing barrels, where it was mixed with water using mechanically propelled mixers. The operating personnel in the basement would pull up the wooden bathing tubs and fill them up with the peat, using a pulley from the mixing barrels through draining spouts…..

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