CARLSBAD, or Kaiser-Karlsbad (Czech, Karlovy Vary), a town and celebrated watering-place of Bohemia, Austria, 116 m. W.N.W. of Prague by rail. Pop. (1900) 14,640. It is situated at an altitude of 1227 ft. and lies in the beautiful narrow and winding valley of the Tepl at its junction with the Eger, being hemmed in by precipitous granite hills, covered with magnificent forests of pine. The town is spread on both banks of the river and in the valley of the Eger, its houses being built up the mountain sides in tier above tier of terraces approached by long flights of steps or steep and tortuous roads. This irregularity of site and plan, together with the varied form and high-pitched roofs of the houses, makes the place very picturesque. Among the principal buildings of Carlsbad are the Catholic parish church, built in 1732-1736 in rococo style; the gorgeous Russian church, finished in 1897; the English church; and a handsome synagogue. In the first rank of the other buildings stands the famous Mühlbrunnen Colonnade, erected between 1871 and 1878, which, with its 103 monolithic granite Corinthian columns, is a fine example of modern classical architecture; the Kurhaus (1865); the magnificent Kaiserbad, built in 1895 in the French Renaissance style, and several other bathing establishments; the Sprudel Colonnade, an imposing iron and glass structure, built in 1879, within which rises the Sprudel, the principal spring of Carlsbad; and several hospitals and hospices for poor patients. Both banks of the Tepl are provided with quais, planted with trees, which constitute the chief promenades of the centre of the town; and there are, besides, a municipal park and several public gardens.
The mineral springs, to which Carlsbad owes its fame, rise from beneath a very hard kind of rock, known as Sprudelschale or Sprudeldecke, beneath which it is believed that there exists a large common reservoir of the hot mineral water, known as the Sprudelkessel. Several artificial apertures in the rock have been made for the escape of the steam of this subterranean cauldron, which, owing to the incrustations deposited by the water, require to be cleared at regular intervals. Altogether there are seventeen warm springs, with a temperature varying from 164° F. to 107.7° F., and two cold ones. The oldest, best-known, and at the same time the most copious spring is the Sprudel, a hot geyser with a temperature of 164° F., which gushes up in jets of 1 ft. thick to a height of about 3 ft., and delivers about 405 gallons of water per minute. Other springs are the Mühlbrunnen, with a temperature of 121° F., which is after the Sprudel the most used spring; the Neubrunnen (138° F.); the Kaiser-Karl-Quelle (112° F.); the Theresienbrunnen (134° F.), etc. The warm springs belong to the class of alkaline-saline waters and have all the same chemical composition, varying only in their degree of temperature. The chemical composition of the Sprudel, taken to a thousand parts of water, is: 2.405 sulphate of soda, 1.298 bicarbonate of soda, 1.042 chloride of soda, 0.186 sulphate of potash, 0.166 bicarbonate of magnesia, 0.012 bicarbonate of lithium, and 0.966 carbonic acid gas. They contain also traces of arsenic, antimony, selenium, rubidium, tin and organic substances. The water is colourless and odourless, with a slightly acidulated and salt taste, and has a specific gravity of 1.0053 at 64.4° F. The waters are used both for drinking and bathing, and are very beneficent in cases of liver affections, biliary and renal calculi, diabetes, gout, rheumatism, and uric acid troubles. They are very powerful in their effect and must not be used except under medical direction, and during the cure, a carefully-regulated diet must be observed, coupled with a moderate amount of exercise in the open air. The number of visitors in 1901 was 51,454; in 1756 it was only 257; in 1828 it was 3713; and it attained 14,182 in 1869, and 34,396 in 1890.
Carlsbad is encircled by mountains, covered with beautiful forests of pine, which are made accessible by well-kept paths. Just above the town towers the Hirschensprung (1620 ft.), a little farther the Freundschaftshöhe (1722 ft.); the Franz-Josefs-Höhe (1663 ft.); and the Aberg (1980 ft.). On the opposite bank of the Tepl lies the Rudolfshöhe (1379 ft.); the Dreikreuzberg (1805 ft.); the König Otto's Höhe (1960 ft); and the Ewiges Leben (2086 ft.), with the Stephaniewarte, a tower, 98 ft. high, built in 1889, which commands a superb view. The town is the centre of the porcelain and stoneware industry of Bohemia, and manufactures a special liqueur (Karlsbader Bitter), besides various objects from the Sprudel rock and confectionery. It exported, in 1901, 2 millions of bottles of mineral water, and 160,000 lb of Sprudel salt, i.e. salt obtained by evaporation from the water of the Sprudel.
Many interesting places are to be found near Carlsbad. To the north is the village of Dallwitz, with a porcelain factory, a handsome castle and beautiful oaks extolled by Theodor Körner, under which he composed in 1812 his touching elegy on the downfall of Germany. To the east is the watering-place of Giesshübl-Puchstein with celebrated springs, which contain alkaline waters impregnated with carbonic acid gas. To the west in the valley of the Eger, the village of Aich, with a porcelain factory, and a little farther the much-visited Hans Heiling's Rock, a wild and romantic spot, with which a very touching legend is connected. To the south-east the ruined castle of Engelhaus, situated on a rock of phonolite, 2340 ft. high, built probably in the first part of the 13th century and destroyed by the Swedes in 1635. At the foot of the mountain lies the actual village of Engelhaus.
According to legend the springs of Carlsbad were discovered during a hunting expedition by the emperor Charles IV., who built the town, which derives its name from him, on both banks of the Tepl. But the hot springs were already known two centuries before, as is indicated by the name of the river Tepl (warm), under which name the river was known in the 12th century. Besides, on the same spot stood already in the 13th century a place called Vary, which means the Sprudel. The truth is, that the emperor Charles IV., after being cured here, built about 1358 a castle in the neighbourhood and accorded many privileges to the town. It obtained its charter as a town in 1370; the fame of the waters spread and it was created a royal free town in 1707 by the emperor Joseph I. The waters were used only for bathing purposes until 1520, when they began to be prescribed also for drinking. The first Kurhaus was erected in 1711 near the Mühlbrunnen, and was replaced by a larger one, built in 1761 by the empress Maria Theresa. Carlsbad was nearly completely destroyed by fire in 1604, and another great fire raged here in 1759. It also suffered much from inundations, especially in 1582 and 1890. In August 1819 a meeting of the ministers of the German courts took place here under the presidency of Prince Metternich, when many reactionary measures, embodied in the so-called "Carlsbad Decrees" (see below), were agreed upon and introduced in the various states of the German Confederation.
Among the extensive literature of the place see Mannl, Carlsbad and its Mineral Springs (Leipzig, 1850); Cartellieri, Karlsbad als Kurort (Karlsbad, 1888); Friedenthal, Der Kurort Karlsbad Topographisch und Medizinisch (Karlsbad, 1895).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)