Major facelift for centrepiece of Karlovy Vary spa

Vřídlo, Spring Colonnade, Karlovy Vary

After a six-year renovation, the main hall of the Spring Colonnade in Karlovy Vary reopened to the public. The Functionalist structure is located right in the heart of the picturesque spa town and houses its warmest and most popular spring, called Vřídlo or Hot Spring.

Hundreds of people gathered in the centre of Karlovy Vary on Thursday to see the return of the Hot Spring, one of the symbols of the spa town, to the main hall of the Spring Colonnade. For the past six years, the spout had been relocated in front of the colonnade, where it gushed at a regulated force.

At 72 degrees Celsius, Vřídlo is the hottest spring in the Czech Republic, with its geyser gushing to a height of up to 12 metres. The Functionalist glass and reinforced concrete pavilion, arching over the spring, was built in 1975.

Spring Colonnade,  Karlovy Vary | Photo: Zdeněk Trnka,  Czech Radio

It is the work of sculptor Jan Fišer and symbolises the beating heart of the spa town. The spacious promenade hall houses five additional spring bowls, in which thermal water is cooled to a temperature of 50 and 30°C in order to be suitable for drinking.

However, the spring water is also chemically aggressive and gradually eroded the very structure of the colonnade, which had to be closed in 2016 due to its poor state.

Spring Colonnade,  Karlovy Vary | Photo: Zdeněk Trnka,  Czech Radio

Now, six years later, it has been returned to its former glory, as it was designed by architect Jaroslav Otruba in 1975, the town’s deputy mayor Petr Bursík told Czech Radio:

“We have a completely new glass facade. There are new floors as well as the stones covering the spring bowl. The bowl itself has been slightly altered.

“It is not made of concrete as it was in 1975, but of thick-walled stainless steel, so as to be more durable. But people will see the hall as it looked at the time when it was completed.”

Martin Sýkora is one of the people who took part in the reconstruction:

Vřídlo,  Spring Colonnade,  Karlovy Vary | Photo: Zdeněk Trnka,  Czech Radio

Today we have different technologies and different tools than our ancestors. But still, preserving the spirit and the historical character of the marble floors, the spring bowl and the glass walls and dome wasn’t an easy task.”

The Spring Colonnade, which is one of the five main colonnades in Karlovy Vary, was built in the 1970s and it is already the third colonnade structure built on the site.

The first Empire colonnade erected in 1826 was replaced by a magnificent cast-iron colonnade constructed in the years 1878 and 1879 according to the design of Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer.

The reconstruction of the Functionalist glass and reinforced concrete pavilion, which cost around CZK 26 million, is just a first step in the gradual restoration of the Spring Colonnade, which is estimated to take another five years.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Zdeněk Trnka
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