History of Jáchymov Health Spa

History of mining

The Jáchymov spa town lies in the deep Ore Mountain valley, known for its rich mineral resources. After prospectors hit a rich silver resource in 1516, the original settlement called Konradsgrün started to develop into a mining town. For its location in the valley the miners, coming mostly from the nearby Saxony region, started to call it Thal (German word for valley). In 1520, when the king granted the town the status of a free mining town, it had about five thousand settlers and it used the name Sankt Joachimsthal (St. Joachim’s Valley). Soon it became famous for the silver coins that were at first minted in the mint owned by the founder of the town Count Schlick, and later in the Royal Mint. The place of origin gave name to these silver coins so popular on the European markets: Thal - Thaler, which later changed to Tolar. It is believed that American dollar took its name after our tolar. Jáchymov at that time belonged to the most populated and richest towns of the kingdom. It was well known for its contacts with European centres of culture and as a meeeting point of many celebrities (e.g. Georgius Agricola, German geologist and scientist). The import of precious metals from the „New World”, the drop of the value of silver, the 17th century wars, the plague epidemics as well as the forceful recatholising of the local protestant community led inevitably to the town deterioration. The reminder of the local mining boom was the establishment of the „mining school” in 1716, the precursor of the later mining academies. Local experience with cobalt mining and its use in the production of dyes became useful after the discovery of uranium at the end of the 19th century. Uranium was known since the time of silver mining and called „pechblende” (the unlucky stone). In the first half of the 19th century its industrial mining started. The local mining pit Svornost (Concord) has become the world’s eldest uranium mine. „Uranium dyes” were produced from this ore in a local factory and used mainly by porcelain factories and glassworks. The increasing production brought an economic revival to the town and later, when a local tobacco factory was opened here, even a railroad track connection was built.

History of the Spa

In 1864, when the miners were excavating the ore at the Svornost mining pit in the depth of about half a kilometre, a strong spring of water burst out and quickly flooded the pit. The water was warm and the miners, who normally suffered from rheumatism, observed effects of the water on their joints. For decades nobody could imagine that this water will soon make Jáchymov famous as a health spa. We consider year 1906 as the starting point of the local spa practice. In the beginning there were only small private baths. In 1911 the first spa house Agricola opened. The healing water was piped down to this place from the mine by a several kilometres long pipeline. The remarkable healing effects induced the idea of building the Radium Kurhaus Spa Hotel - today known as the Radium Palace - which was opened in 1912 and belonged to one of the best hotels in Europe in its time. Celebrities of political, industrial and cultural life used to come here for treatment. Gradually other spa houses and private bed n’ breakfasts were built, which, by the thirties, enabled accommodation of up to nine thousand spa guests a year. The radium brought world fame back to the Spa Jáchymov. In relation to the discovery of the uranium nucleus fission, the outbreak of the World War II and the use of the first atomic bomb, Jáchymov became the mining place of strategically important mineral resource. However this fact harmed the town’s reputation and the fame of the spa has gone in vain. This fate took turn for the better with the termination of the uranium mining activities in the early sixties. The government of Czechoslovakia started focusing on the local spa treatment again. For this reason the modern Akademik Běhounek Spa Hotel opened in 1975 and seventeen years later the Curie Spa Complex started to offer its spa service. In the early nineties the health spa company, called „Léčebné lázně Jáchymov Joint-Stock Company” was established and restored the Svornost mining pit and its springs by hundred million Crowns investments. Radium Palace and several other spa houses were restored and refurbished. The current Spa Jáchymov company started a new chapter of history based on top service and gaining back the glory and fame. The stormy times of the Jáchymov’s history have gone and the place is known for its charming spa, unique treatment and friendly atmosphere.