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Taking the Waters

When you walk through the town, it's almost impossible to miss eye-catching Lázenská Kolonáda, just off Skalníkovy sady. From Hlavní trída, walk east on Vrchlického ulice. Recently restored to its former glory, this colonnade of cast iron and glass is adorned with ceiling frescoes and Corinthian columns. It was built in 1889 and connects half a dozen major springs in the town center; this is the focal point of those partaking in the ritual. Bring a cup to fill or, if you want to fit in with the thousands of guests who are serious about their spa water, buy one of the porcelain mugs with a built-in straw that are offered just about everywhere. Keep in mind that the waters are used to treat internal disorders, so the minerals may act to cleanse the body thoroughly by causing diarrhea. You can wander the Kolonáda any time; water is distributed daily from 6am to noon and 4 to 6pm.

Located just next to the colonnade is the modern landmark of the city. A pool surrounding a flower sculpture of stainless steel and stone is known as "The Singing Fountain" and contains a set of 250 water jets. At the top of every odd hour, between 7am and 9pm, and at 10pm, these jets spray in sync to music by different composers.

Learning About the City's Past

There's not much town history, since Mariánské Lázne officially came into existence only in 1808. But engaging brevity is what makes the two-story City Museum (Mestské Muzeum), Goetheovo nám. 11 (tel. 354-622-740), worth recommending. Chronologically arranged displays include photos and documents of famous visitors. Goethe slept here, in the upstairs rooms in 1823, when he was 74 years old. If you ask nicely, the museum guards will play an English-language tape that describes the contents of each room. You can also request to see the museum's English-language film about the town. Admission is 60Kc and it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5:30pm.

The Spa Treatment

For a relaxing mineral bubble bath or massage, make reservations through the Marienbad Kur & Spa Hotels Information Service, Masarykova 22, 353 29 (tel. 354-655-501; www.marienbad.cz). Also ask at your hotel, as most provide spa treatments and massages or can arrange them. Treatments begin at 350Kc and go north in a hurry from there. The city's main website (www.marianskelazne.cz) contains an excellent description in English of the various springs, as well as the treatments and cures available at the spa.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.