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The Spa at Luhacovice

Date of Submission: 06/07/2001
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Prague
Coordinates: 49°06'37" N / 17°45'48" E
Ref.: 1562

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The spa at Luhacovice is an architecturally prominent and unique complex of buildings which, from the end of the 19th century throughout, approximately, the first three decades of the 20th century, have gradually formed the base of the present spa town situated in the east part of Moravia. The spa buildings in Luhaêovice represent, in the global contexte a unique specimen of modern spa architecture of the early 20th century, inspired by vernacular architecture. In this respect, Luhaëovice is a locality that cannot be compared to any other item on the World Heritage List included in so far.

For centuries Luhacovice had been a relatively unimportant village situated in a rather poorly accessible valley of the river âfàvnice; from the 17th century it had had also a gentry résidence and a manor farm. The therapeutical effects of local mineral springs are first mentioned in written records as late as in the 1760s. Originally, the water was exported from the village in bottles, and when an expert analysis stating the qualities of Luhaéovice waters had been'publicized, more and more of the ill were becoming interested in taking treatment directly in Luhaëovice. First spa buildings were built after 1792 and in 1809 the town already had designated walks for spa guests. The oldest preserved building of the spa centre is the baroque Chapel of St. Elisabeth from 1795. During the 19th century the number of spa guests had been growing, the spa complex had been extended and changes had been made to the area around the houses and the surrounding landscape.

A decisive impulse for the creation of the coherent spa complex preserved till the present was in 1902 the foundation of a joint stock company which bought the whole area of the health resort. Luhacovice thus became the only one of larger spa complexes on the territory of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy which had a Czech owner. At the height of the efforts to raise national consciousness in the several following -years, the Czech as well as generally Slavonic character of the spa was reflected in the work of the architect Duâan Jurkoviê. Jurkoviê was entrusted with the development project for new spa buildings as well as with external works which were to reshape the existing spa area, and his contribution to the appearance of the spa has remained dominant until the present.

The project resulted in the construction of a series of unique buildings whose outer appearance combines the motifs of Slavonic folk architecture of the Carpathian region With the Art Nouveau decorativism and the influences of English neo-vernacular architecture. This distinctive style is characterized by the dominant use of wooden and half-timbered constructions and by specific décorative motifs on the buildings.

The most important of Jurkovië's buildings in Luhacovice from the beginning of the 20th century include the Jestfabf lodging villa, the Institute of Hydrotherapy, the adjacent swimming pool and sun baths and, in particular, the central building of the spa, Januv dum (Jan's House) which emerged in 1901-1902 from the reconstruction of an oider object and is now called Jurkovicuv dum (Jurkovic House).

The central area of the spa is dominated by other architecturally prominent objects - the Art Nouveau spa hotel from 1910 built to plans by the architect Emil Kràlik and bearing the name of the Czech composer Bedfich Smetana, and the Community Centre, an important constructivist building from the 1933-1935 period by Frantieek Roith. A unique treatment facility of its time was the Inhalatorium, built between the years 1922 and 1923. The spa complex has also its own theatre, and its appearance is enhanced by a number of charming smaller architectural works - structures built over the medicinal springs, an Art Nouveau pavillion next to tennis courts, music pavilion and a complex of bridges over the âtàvnice, corresponding in their character with the wooden décorative motifs of the spa buildings.

The development of the spa complex was accompanied by the building of new lodging houses and villas, both in the immédiate neighbourhood of the central spa area and in separate quarters. Even today we can still see the preserved original character of the Prague Quarter with several architecturally valuable buildings from the first third of the 20th century, as well as the original appearance of the southern, so called White Quarter, situated in a lateral valley and consisting of more historic buildings, predominantly of a late Art Nouveau desig ' n and, in particular, a group of detached functionalist lodging houses built in the years 1926 and 1927. In the southern part of the spa, important hotel-type medical treatment houses - Palace, Morava and Alexandria - were built after World War 1. Beside these houses, this part of the spa area is dominated by the buildings of the Post Office and the Municipal Office (the object of a former savings bank, built in 1937). Between the years 1947 and 1950, the Great and the Smail Colonnades were built along the eastem brim of the valley'and joined by a hall raised over one of the medical springs, thus delineating the central panorama of the spa at Luhacovice.

Thanks to the exceptional quality of the Luhacovice mineral springs, natural conditions and the longstanding tradition of successfui medical cures, the town is a locality unique also from the viewpoînt of history and practice of the spa treatment itseif. The services of the health resort inctude drinking cures, inhalation, baineotherapeutical procédures, massages, peat procédures and motoric réhabilitation, and thus allow the treatment of the respiratory and digestive tracts, metabolism disorders as well as dysfunctions of the motoric system.

A large majority of the spa activities and services take place in the preserved historical buildings whose charm, together with the character of their immédiate environment, makes the stay at the heaith resort an unforgettable and unique expérience. The spa area of the town preserved its specific atmosphere, enhanced by the large, regularly kept area of the nature park with designated walking routes. A valuable feature of the park is its preserved original dendrological pattern, corresponding to that of the surrounding countryside.