The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mariánské Lázně
Yes, it´s a movie not a hotel. I´m aware of that. I actually saw the movie because my sister told that it´s a good one. When I watched it, it made me really curious where did they get the idea of the hotel (the hotel doesn´t actually exist). The hotel looked so grandiose and great. So I started to Google it, of course!
The film was inspired of the writings of Stefan Zweig. So anyone who has read his books, should know that it should be an interesting film. Who has seen the film, what do you think?
But I did not want to talk about the film. I wanted to talk about the hotels. As you know, it was filmed in Germany and in Kalovy Vary. The hotel interior was actually a department store with a giant atrium. I read that the Jugestil department store is one of the few that survived the WWII. I think it´s really interesting to have chosen that kind of a place for a lobby. It is so grandiose, I actually would never have thought that there actually existed that kind of a place, I thought they had made that impression with some special effects.
The hotel itself was a miniature model and one of the hotels that inspired The Gran Budapest Hotel was Palace Bristol Hotel ****, that is in Kalovy Vary. Karlovy Vary is an amazing town in Czech Republic. In the area there are lots of similar towns. My favourite is actually Mariánské Lázně. It is such a beautiful town, if you have a chance, you definitely have to stay there for a few days. The other hotels that inspired The Grand Budapest Hotel, are Danubius Hotel Gellért ****, also Grandhotel Pupp *****.
There are so many reasons I got really excited about this movie. One of them is that it reminded me so much of Mariánské Lázně. I´ve never seen a town like that before, it is absolutely breath-taking! It´s actually a spa town. The buildings are so incredible! In the broader environs of the town there are around 160 springs, while in Mariánské Lázně itself you will find over 50 cold mineral springs that are used for the successful treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, the nerves, and the digestive system, as well as skin problems and disorders of the breathing and motor apparatuses. We stayed there a few years ago the last time.
There are more of these kind of things (taken from http://www.littlemissarchitect.com/2014/03/grand-budapest-hotel-set-design-movie.html):
We spent our nights in Falkensteiner Hotel Grand Spa Marienbad ****.
We walked around the town so many times. One of the times we stayed there was at the end of our vacation, it was so many years ago, I don´t remember the year, it might have been 2010. We enjoyed everything, it was so beautiful and the sad part was to leave. The road towards Warsawa is really devious and it was quite time taking and difficult to drive. When we got to the Poland border, we discovered that, ups, my mom´s bag was left to the hotel. We had been driven for hours by then, but OK, let´s not worry, let´s just go back there and stay another night, so we were actually excited.
We finally got back to Mariánské Lázně, it was really late. We checked into a hotel, I don´t remember which one, gave the passports and went to our rooms. We were really tired! In the morning we started our way back to Warsawa. Finally got to the border, my mom asked me to get our passports from her bag. I started to take them and suddenly I was really silent and didn´t know what to say. When everything was silent, my mom quietly asked, if we had left our passports to the hotel? Guess what, of course! We, again, had to go back to Mariánské Lázně to collect our passports. Isn´t that fun? 🙂
We would have asked to send the passports by post, but at this time, the borders were not open yet, Estonia wasn´t in Schengen area, we had to have passports when we wanted to cross the border. I don´t remember whether we stayed at the hotel for another night, but I remember that when we got back to the border, we told that it doesn´t matter what we have left to the hotel again, we are definitely not going back!!
Well, this isn´t an only thing that has happened to us in our travels, there was this one time, when we were driving to Hungary from Slovakia. My dad was driving at that time (after that experience, my mom does all the driving), my mom was looking at the map (at that time we didn´t have GPS). Mom was directing and dad drove. At some point dad was like, there´s something off, there are no signs that point to the town we were supposed to go to. He finally stopped at a gas station to go to ask from the clerk where we were. When my dad was in the gas station, my mom silently told us that we accidentally drove in the direction of Ukraine and we are almost at the border. She had just discovered it like a few minutes before we made the stop. She told that she didn´t see the map well because she didn´t have her glasses on. 😀 Well, we saw that our dad had discovered the same thing from the gas station, we could see it from his expression. Well, till this day we cannot stop laughing at this, when we drive around Europe.
But enough about that, now more about Mariánské Lázně.
Mariánské Lázně is a spa town in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. The town, surrounded by green mountains, is a mosaic of parks and noble houses. Most of its buildings come from the town’s Golden Era in the second half of the 19th century, when many celebrities and top European rulers came to enjoy the curative carbon dioxide springs.
The springs first appear in a document dating from 1341 where they are called “the Auschowitzer springs” belonging to the Tepl Abbey. It was only through the efforts of Dr Josef Nehr, the abbey’s physician, who from 1779 until his death in 1820 worked hard to demonstrate the curative properties of the springs, that the waters began to be used for medicinal purposes. The place obtained its current name of Marienbad in 1808; became a watering-place in 1818, and received its charter as a town in 1868.
The name Marienbad first appeared in 1786; since 1865 it has been a town. Then a second period of growth, the town’s Golden Era, came. Between 1870 and 1914 many new hotels, colonnades and other buildings, designed by Friedrich Zickler, Josef Schaffer, and Arnold Heymann, were constructed or rebuilt from older houses. In 1872 the town got a railway connection with the town of Eger (Cheb) and thus with the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire and the rest of Europe.
The town soon became one of the top European spas, popular with notable figures and rulers who often returned there. Among them were such names as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frédéric Chopin, Thomas Edison, Richard Wagner or Prince Friedrich of Saxony, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, the Russian Czar Nicholas II, and Emperor Franz Joseph I and many others. At those times, about 20,000 visitors came every year.
Marienbad remained a popular destination between World War I and World War II. After WWII, the ethnic German population of the town was forcibly expelled according to the Potsdam agreement, thereby emptying the town of the majority of its population. After the communist coup-d’état in 1948; it got sealed off from most of its foreign visitors. After the return of democracy in 1989 much effort was put into restoring the town into its original character. Today it is not only a spa town but also a popular holiday resort thanks to its location among the green mountains of the Slavkovský les and the Český les, sport facilities (the town’s first golf course was opened in 1905 by the British King Edward VII) and the proximity to other famous spa towns, such as Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) or Franzensbad (Františkovy Lázně).
What you definitely have to see there?
- The Singing Fountain. It is located on the place in front of the Main Colonnade. A fantastic water spectacle accompanied by famous classical music compositions can be seen at regular intervals. The Singing Fountain is especially beautiful after dusk when light effects join the show.
- There are more than 40 mineral springs in the urban area of Marianske Lazne. Even more striking is the very diverse chemical composition of the springs. Thanks to this exceptional natural phenomenon a large number of various diseases are cured in Marianske Lazne. Most of the springs are open to the public and their use is free of charge.
Actually, you can walk around the town with your mug from one mineral spring to another and just pour and drink it all the time. 🙂
- The buildings!!!! Most of the buildings in the spa center were built within relatively short period in a wonderful historistic style. The great architecture blends harmonically with beautiful spa parks. In 1992 the value of the place was acknowledged by the authorities and Marianske Lazne was declared a heritage site with many listed buildings.
- Colonnades, they have always been the centre of the spa life. The dominant point of Marianske Lazne is the Main Colonnade, an impressive cast iron structure. Next to the Main Colonnade one can admire the colonnades of Cross and Caroline Spring. Another wonderful building is the Ferdinand Spring colonnade – the dominant of the park in the lower part of the spa.
So this is a place that should go to your bucket list! 🙂