Optional Excursion to
Bayreuth Wagner Festival Tour Program
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OPTIONAL EXCURSION TO Czech Republic
IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING !
PASSPORTS: As we will be crossing the border today, it is important that you have your passports ready to be shown at the border. All Australian passport holders will need to have their Czech Visa stapled inside their passport.
THE BORDER CROSSING: While waiting for clearance at the Czech border, please do not stray to far from the bus.
We will depart for an Excursion to Marianske Lazne (Marienbad), Tepla and Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) through the beautiful Tepla Valley and fields of maize and wheat. We will visit the Colonnades, the fountains in Marienbad, the Church and State Library in the Cloisters of Tepla and then onto Karlovy Vary for a city walk and a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The history of this beautiful town has been compared to the legend of Sleeping Beauty. It remained untouched by the commerce and the development of the bustling cities around it, until the 19th century. It was then, that a newly elected abbot, Reitenberger, with high connections in Prague , determined to breathe life into the sleeping township, by converting its ancient mineral springs into the most magnificent mineral spa in Western Bohemia . In 1818 Royal Decree granted Marianske Lazne, official status as a health resort. The booming town soon boasted a library, theatre, the country's most outstanding specialists and colonnades. In 1820 Dr Hunsfield, personal physician to Goethe wrote "Our visit to Marianske Lazne was the highlight of our journey. Ten years ago it was only a handful of cottages, now there is a city of palace-like buildings surrounding in marvellous symmetry the healing spring encircled by colonnades and alleys. The complex is then enwrapped in the dark green of a mountain Forrest."
Since then, in an attempt to surpass their predecessors, architects have designed bigger and more spectacular buildings in a variety of styles (Neo -Classical, Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau). The elegance of downtown Marianske Lazne , owes much to the massive refashioning in the early years of this century. The consequence is a photographer's dream with fantastic scenery wherever one looks.
This glamourous spa has hosted the mightiest men and women of the east and west. The Persian Shah's suite stunned onlookers with an oriental splendour hitherto unseen in Europe . Aristocrats, courtiers and businessmen exchanged courtly bows with celebrated scientists, philosophers and men of letters. Distinguished composers critically appraised the performance of the colonnade orchestra, whilst army officers of all ranks survey hosts of "ailing" unmarried ladies escorted by their mothers.
History too has left its mark. Edward VII of Britain met with Clemenceau and Izvoskji (The French and Russian Foreign Ministers) here to prepare the "Entente Cordiale' or friendly alliance against Germany , Austria-Hungary and Italy . Edward VII was also to open the first nine holes of one of the biggest and best golf courses in Czechoslovakia , on the town's outskirts.
Music has played a vital role in Marianske Lazne. Outdoor musical performances are amongst the oldest of its traditions. Hippocrates once stated that music is a curative factor and that spa therapy would be incomplete without it. This principle has always been observed here and has added a special character to the town. The initial notes of Lohengrin by Wagner were said to have been inspired by the gurgle of local streams. Many other famous composers and musicians visited - Richard Strauss, Carl Maria von Weber, Ignaz Moscheles, Antonin Dvorak. In honour of these and many more, an International Music Festival and a Chopin Festival are held every year.
The heart of Marianske Lazne is its elegantly designed spa. Surrounding this are beautifully laid gardens and Colonnades. The Colonnades each individually named, display the most intricate sculpture and one in particular Der Kollonade , has an Art Nouveau fresco and intricate iron lace work throughout the interior. Also of interest is the "Singing Fountain , whose notes attract the attention of most visitors.
We will be stopping for lunch at the Monastery Tepla.
Please note that Lunch is not included and must be purchased at your own expense.
The " Monastery Tepla" was founded in 1120 by the nobleman Haroznata and was completed in 1197. It was then under the control of an order Premonastratensian Monks founded by St. Norbert and headed by the Abbott John. By 1908, the monastery resembled a miniature city with it's own resturant, pharmacy, brewery and mill. In 1950 it was siezed by the Communist Government, and the monks were inturned in camps and the monastery was converted to military barricks. The sight was handed back to the Order in 1990, and since then, the Monks have had the difficult task of restoring the remaining buildings. The magnificent Tepla Library, which was constructed in 1907, has been completely restored in the Neo-Baroque Style. It contains a portrait Gallery and houses one of the largest and most precious collections in The Czech Republic. It contains 100,000 volumes, 700 manuscripts and 40 ancient medieval texts.
Our next stop will be the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary was originally discovered in 1358 by Emperor Charles IV, who stumbled across the mineral spring whilst hunting deer. Since then, a stag has been the central motif of the city. The mineral spas and therapeutic benefits of the waters of Karlovy Vary have been experienced by the rich and famous through out Europe . By the nineteenth century its reputation as the premier European spa had spread beyond the realms of Europe to England and the USA ..
Edward VII, the future king of England , was so taken by the therapeutic benefits of the water that he invested money in the area. Together with other monarchs of Europe , Edward VII built a another magnificent Golf Course, which is presently used by the elite of world society. It was in that era, that it was considered a social obligation of prominent aristocrats, statesmen and military functionaries to make an appearance in Karlovy Vary for at least a few days to enjoy the sumptuous feasts and lavish balls that were hosted and to 'take the waters'. Wolfgang Goethe (the philosopher poet) was one of the city's most frequent visitors, as were Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Wagner, Schiller, Freud, Marx, Metternich Peter The Great of Russia and Pagininni.
Guests stroll through the ornamental arched cloisters of the spa houses to visit Vridlo -the best known, strongest and warmest spring in Czechoslovakia.The spring is now housed in a massive hotel/resort built by the Soviet Union as a premier holiday destination for government officials. From there, it is a short stroll to the graceful architecture of the Colonnade New Spring with its lattices and gentle arches. The Mill Colonnade houses a number of thermal springs at various temperatures. Local stalls will sell you a traditional mug from which you can sip the waters. Then you may wander amongst the springs and enjoy the most famous waters of Europe .
The most beautiful place to stay is at the magnificent Grand Hotel Pupp (est 1701) which hosts the autumn balls amidst the gold, white and black of its beautifully appointed ballrooms. We may have time to take you into the Casino. The twentieth century has seen little change in this beautiful town, which is magnificently preserved.
This world famous spa town boasts 60 springs. Sample the spa waters at any of the 12 currently used, curative thermal springs or its rare herbal spring called Bercherovka . The advanced balneotherapy and miraculous power of the spa waters caused by the unique composition of minerals dissolved in them, are the main reasons why so many famous people come here for their health.
The historical architecture and magnificent cultural life of this Czech town also attracts thousands of visitors every year. Visit the historical and modern colonnades. Make sure you don't miss out on seeing and buying souvenirs of local glass and china production, or tasting the local delicacies "Kollonade" wafers and Becher Liqueur.
We will then head back across the boarder to Germany please make sure you have your passport ready.
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