10) Třeboň – a picturesque South Bohemian spa town that specialises in rheumatic diseases

Aurora Spa facility, Třeboň spa
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Třeboň is a picturesque South Bohemia town with spa facilities that specialise in in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatic diseases, as well as on the general reconditioning of the body and mind. Its historic centre and surrounding flatlands also offer plenty to do for sightseers and cyclists.

The name of Třeboň comes from the Czech word třebit (to cultivate). The area of the town and its surrounding region used to be one of riparian woodland, which was cut down and cultivated by the locals in the Middle Ages.

The origins of the settlement stretch back to the twelfth century and Třeboň was eventually officially designated as a city in 1341. The oldest mention of the town having a spa or bath facility goes back to about the same time according to the archivist of the town’s local museum, Jiřina Psíková.

“The oldest record of Třeboň being used as a spa comes from the year 1379. Back then the spa was located on the outskirts of the medieval town, because it served the whole population.”

Despite this mention in the medieval records, Třeboň was not a spa haven during this period. Instead, it was better known for its large pond complexes, connected by the so-called Golden Canal (Zlatá stoka), a seventeenth century waterway built to supply water for the ponds which, at that time, were a popular business for Bohemian nobles.

Photo: Katerina Ayzpurvit,  Radio Prague International

Třeboň started to become known as a spa town later, in the 19th century. The author of the idea was a teacher and businessman called Václav Hucek, who had heard about the healing properties of the surrounding peat-bogs, says Jiřina Psíková.

“One day he had a sample of the local peat collected and sent to Mariánské Lázně for analysis. They found out that Třeboň’s peat had even greater healing properties than the one in West Bohemia.”

Encouraged by this news, as well as apparently by the popularity of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, Václav Hucek decided to go into the spa business. By 1881, he had acquired the prerequisite capital and decided to knock down a dancing hall that he owned in the town and build a spa facility there instead. It was finished two years later, in 1883.

The original spa facility, which still operates today, is known as Bertha’s Spa (Bertiny lázně). The name, according to the town’s archivist Jiřina Psíková, is the same as that of Václav Hucek’s daughter.

“The original plan of the building was drawn by Mr Hucek’s daughter. Her name was Bertha. She was around 20 years old at the time and saw her father writing about a beautiful house in the family chronicle while they were on a trip in Plzeň. She decided to draw it and it would become the blueprint for today’s Bertha’s Spa.”

Bertha’s Spa | Photo: Kateřina Ayzpurvit,  Radio Prague International

The current director of Třeboň Spa, Dr Libuše Kotilová, says that the facility quickly grew in popularity.

“At first, this was a seasonal spa – that means that accommodation was not included. However, just a few seasons later, it became apparent just how popular the spa was and also that clients wanted a place to stay. Gradually, this led to the construction of long-term spa facilities that included housing.”

Today, the network of Třeboň spa facilities specializes in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatic diseases, post-traumatic and post-operative conditions, as well as on the general reconditioning of the body and mind. They can do this thanks to the natural healing properties of the local peat which had so impressed Mr Hucek over a century ago, says Dr Kotilová.

“It can be used for the healing of all locomotor systems of the body. It’s also useful for people suffering from rheumatism, or patients with injuries. For example, the peat is useful for patients who are about to have hip or knee surgery.

Třeboň | Photo: Kateřina Ayzpurvit,  Radio Prague International

“It is very plentiful around this area and has excellent healing properties. In fact, around the end of the 1980s, they were even considering using our peat exclusively for all spas in Czechoslovakia. Other sources, such as mineral water or other types of peat would have been discontinued across the country.”

Třeboň’s peat was first mined in the Svět pond, which is one of the several local ponds that are connected by the Golden Canal and used to be part of the town’s outer defence perimeter.  However, the pond’s peat has since been depleted and the healing liquid is now sourced from the nearby Barbora woodland area which has several peat sources.

Peat is of course not the only healing mechanism offered by the complex of spas located in Třeboň today. For example, the Aurora Spa facility has newly been offering therapy for patients suffering from the so-called post-Covid syndrome, says local rehabilitation expert Dr Karel Bajer.

Aurora Spa facility | Photo: Slatinné lázně Třeboň

“One of the current theories is that the uniting factor behind post-Covid syndrome could be problems on the level of capillaries - the smallest and most numerous of the body’s blood vessels. Patients with this diagnosis do not just have problems with breathing, but also with their heart. Their sensitivity can be numbed and they suffer from muscle fatigue.

“Our procedures for treating this condition include oxygen therapy, which is used to help with the associated breathing problems. We also focus on improving the patient’s mobility problems, for example by the use of carbon dioxide therapy which should help with circulation and thus movement.”

Třeboň | Photo: Kateřina Ayzpurvit,  Radio Prague International

Between treatments visitors can of course also enjoy Třeboň itself, which contains a picturesque historic centre typical for the South Bohemian region. But that is not the only thing that the surrounding area has to offer, says Dr Kotilová.

“Aside from the historic centre, which lies near the Bertha Spa, visitors can also take a tour of our local beer brewery, or of the local chateau. The chateau also houses the tomb of the dukes of Schwarzenberg (one of Bohemia’s most famous noble families). It is located on the shore of the Svět pond.

“Our visitors also love to use the several cycling routes in the area around our town. Třeboň is surrounded by flatlands, so the routes are very easy and comfortable for people with movement problems.”

Incidentally, the Bohemia Regent brewery that Dr Kotilová mentions was founded in 1379 – the same year from which we have the first archival evidence of a spa in Třeboň. At its high-point, the beer was a popular beverage in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with 10,000,000 litres being produced annually at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, it is still being made in the town’s historic brewery complex.