Karlovy Vary - The Story of Ludwig Moser, founder of a glass-making tradition

It is 1833, specifically 18 June. A boy, who has been named Ludwig, has been born into the prosperous family of Lazar Moser, operator of a Jewish restaurant. In the coming decades Ludwig Löwe Moser, to give him his full name, becomes one of the Karlovy Vary’s most successful citizens and the founder of the world-famous Moser glass company.
 
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Karlovy Vary is a town with a brief but highly intense history of Jewish settlement. Many Jewish families moved to the town in the 19th century; indeed, there were so many that the local community soon became one of the biggest in Bohemia. This is one reason that vast majority of Karlovy Vary’s Jewish historical landmarks were destroyed by the Nazis immediately after the occupation began. Jews played a large role in the spa town’s economic boom. Among them was Ludwig Moser. He studied in Vienna and Loket, learned to engrave under Andreas Mattoni and attended drawing courses given by the artist Ernst Anton.


© Ladislav Renner

He also travelled the world and gathered experience at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague before, at the age of 23, laying the foundations for the manufacture of world famous glass products when he opened his own workshop. Today he would be described as a top class executive. Moser didn’t let the grass grow under his feet and in 1873 became court supplier to the Viennese court. Dissatisfied with the glass being delivered, he opened his own glassworks, hired workers from throughout Bohemia and built a housing complex for them in Karlovy Vary. He built up a network of agencies and warehouses both at home and abroad. Moser was also a proud Jew. He was active in the community and was elected leader soon after its foundation. He was largely responsible for the building of a synagogue and the establishment of the Emperor Franz Joseph Israelite hospice.

Interesting thing

Karlovy Vary has always been popular with important figures from various walks of life. Names such as Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Ernst Sommer, Louis Fürnberg and Karel Čapek speak for themselves. Another notable visitor was Chaim Weizmann, the first president of the State of Israel, who in 1921 chaired the seventh World Zionist Congress, at which Jews from around the world discussed what form their future state might take. Several other international Jewish events were held in the open, tolerant town, including the eighth World Zionist Congress two years later.

Day 1

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Your tour of the sights of Karlovy Vary gets underway at the Moser Museum, where you will have the opportunity to observe the firm’s technique for producing unique crystal and tour its glassworks. You will then continue across the river to the Jan Becher Museum. There you will discover that the manufacture of the legendary herb liqueur really is alchemy, while a tasting of prepared specialities is sure not to disappoint. Next stop is the peaceful and relaxing Alžbetiných lázní (Elisabeth Spa), named after the Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sissi. After giving your body and mind a break, it’s time for a little reflection on the history of the persecution of the Jewish nation. Be sure to visit Sadová where at the site of a former synagogue there is a memorial to its burning down. It is also dedicated to victims of the Shoah from Karlovy Vary’s Jewish community who were dragged off during the Nazi occupation. The next stop will be the last preserved Jewish historical landmark in the town, the local cemetery. It lies in Mozartova St. on a hill across the river and is reached via the bridge Lázeňský most. As well as a moment’s reflection on the transience of human life beneath the canopies of mature trees, a memorial to fallen WWI soldiers and an interesting ceremonial hall building await you. You next head down Vřídelní St. towards the Mill Colonnade and the Vřídlo spring. The Mill Colonnade building is the oldest in Karlovy Vary, while the Vřídelní Colonnade is famous for the Vřído spring, a geyser of hot water that reaches 12 metres into the air. In the basement you can discover the secret of the origin of its famous stone roses. After strolling a little further down the colonnade you cross the bridge Jánský most and follow Stará louka to the lower station of the Diana cable car; it will transport you to Friendship Height, location of the Diana Lookout Tower. A wonderful view of the town in the setting sun will represent the perfect conclusion to a pleasant day. You can also enjoy refreshments at one of the local restaurants.

Common Tips

After visiting Karlovy Vary’s hottest spring – Vřídlo – don’t neglect to view the nearby building of the former Jewish community, at one time an important address for all visitors to the town.

Transportation

Karlovy Vary is 127 km from Prague. It can be reached by car in approximately two hours. It takes three hours to get there by train or bus.
 
A trip to Karlovy Vary can be combined with a visit to Pilsen. In that case the route is 175 km and going by car is recommended.
 

Day 1

km
4
hrs
6
sights
7

Moser Glassworks

Investigate the remarkable history of the creation of Moser brand crystal art glass. Glass makers, grinders and engravers have been breathing their art into the glass here for more than 150 years. Visit the museum at the Moser Glassworks in Karlovy Vary or the Moser Museum on the Old Town Square in Prague. Experience the atmosphere of glassmaking right in the glassworks in Karlovy Vary. You will see master glassmakers transforming molten lumps of glass into unique products. 

Address

Kapitána Jaroše 46/19
360 06 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.22801800585915, 12.837438802123984

Opening Hours

Entry fees

Standard fee: 80 Kč

Children fee: 50 Kč

Family fee: 180 Kč

Student fee: 50 Kč

Jan Becher Museum

Taste the most famous of Czech herbal liqueurs and find out more about its history. Jan Becher founded his company more than two centuries ago and nowadays, Becherovka is a world famous brand. The secret of its ingredients is carefully guarded, only known to two people. 

Address

Jan Becher Muzeum
T. G. Masaryka 57
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.2302506, 12.8670564

Opening Hours

Entry fees

Standard fee: 120 Kč

Children fee: 30 Kč

Family fee: 240 Kč

Student fee: 60 Kč

Elisabeth Spa in Karlovy Vary

The elegant Elizabeth Spa is one of the most attractive buildings of the spa metropolis. You can see for yourself that it resembles a chateau rather than a regular spa building.  Walk through the French garden, listen to the sound of bubbling water in the fountain and give yourself over to dreaming.
 

Address

Smetanovy sady 1, Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.230264, 12.872037

The Jewish cemetery in Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary’s Jewish cemetery isn’t as old as Prague’s for instance. This is because Jews started moving to the town in droves in the 19th century.

Address

Mozartova ulice, Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.230814, 12.888000

Mill Colonnade in Karlovy Vary

This breathtaking building is the largest of the town’s colonnades. It is also the most frequented one, and rightfully so.
 

Address

Mlýnská kolonáda
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.225283, 12.881859

Vřídlo spring in Karlovy Vary

If you come to Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), you should not miss the Vřídlo hot spring – the symbol of this world-famous spa city. Vřídlo is the only source of thermal water used for the local spa baths, shooting 72 °C mineral water up to 12 metres at an average rate of 2,000 litres per minute. 

Opening Hours

Diana lookout tower and its surroundings

Take the trip to the Diana tower and other lookouts in its surroundings to discover some previously unseen beauties of the region.
 

Address

Vrch přátelství 5/1, 360 01, Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.218940, 12.872281

Opening Hours

Hotel Imperial

A significant local historical landmark, Karlovy Vary’s neo-Renaissance Hotel Imperial dates back to the start of the 20th century.

Address

Hotel Imperial **** superior
Libušina 1212/18
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.219481, 12.8856468

Humboldt Park Hotel & Spa

The Classicist villa from 1872 in which Humboldt Park Hotel & Spa is located is literally synonymous with grandeur. Completely renovated in 2006, it combines modern quality with the atmosphere of the age in which it was built.

Address

Humboldt Park Hotel & Spa ****
Zahradní 27
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.227991, 12.875826

Savoy Westend Hotel

The mission of this Karlovy Vary hotel is to combine the established tradition of the West Bohemian spa industry with modern trends in the field of medical treatments and wellness pampering. Obviously, this five-star resort offers accommodation of the highest quality complemented by excellent catering services and medical care. It is not surprising that thousands of satisfied customers keep coming back to the Savoy Westend Hotel. 

Address

Savoy Westend Hotel *****
Petra Velikého, 16
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.224957, 12.876599

Spa Resort Sanssouci

Enjoy your stay in Karlovy Vary and everything that goes with it. The wide range of services offered in the Spa Resort Sanssouci will help you to achieve this.

Address

Spa Resort Sanssouci ****
U Imperiálu 198/11
360 01 Karlovy Vary
GPS: 50.2193157, 12.8878844