Fragments and news items
Beginning of the season
The spa season always began on 1 May in the evening with a colonnade concert. Musicians of the spa orchestra started to arrive several days in advance, because they worked in big cities during winter. On the first Sunday of May, the springs were blessed. With the blessing of the springs the spa season was officially opened.
This tradition has survived until today, so the opening of the season with its cultural programme and the blessing of the springs is a fixed part of spa life. If you would like to experience the opening of the spa season nowadays, then visit Mariánské Lázně on the second Saturday in May.
Food and music
A special moment of the dinner was the music, which was played as people dined. This was even before it was commonly known that music improves digestion. And for this reason small orchestras played to guests as they dined and during speeches and toasts. Music was well chosen for dining, with the compositions chosen according to the dining society. The repertoire was even printed on silk menus during festive occasions. On 16 August 1904 at a gala dinner during an official meeting between the elderly emperor Franz Joseph I and the English King Edward VII, a chamber group of the spa orchestra played according to the printed programme. And what was on the menu? Tortoise soup, Queen’s soup, trout, new potatoes, spinach, carrots, venison saddle, partridge with cranberries, grilled pollard, chocolate ice-cream, strawberries with cream...
"Stomach of spas"
Friedrich Sperling (1928) noted detailed information about food consumption in 1927.
How much was eaten daily? The daily consumption was 500 kg of coffee, 50 kg of tea, 3 500 loafs of bread, 80,000 pieces of pastry, 10,000 loafs of wholemeal bread and dried pastry. For a sweeter life, up to 3,000 kg of sugar and 60,000 eggs were used. There was a daily usage of 10,000 litres of milk, 2,000 kg of butter…and 1,000 kg of oranges, 6,000 lemons were eaten, 10,000 kg of meat and meat products, and on top of that 150 pieces of Prague ham a day. A further 250 pigeons, 800 chickens, 250 ducks and geese, and 1,000 kg of fish were eaten. 500 litres of wine, 16,000 pints of beer were drunk, and an uncountable amount of mineral water directly from the springs’ sources.
The richest guest
Though in the past many rich kings and rulers, wealthy Russian nobles as well as western millionaires visited the spa, namely Morgan, who financed the construction of the Panama Canal, the oil magnate Gulbenkian or the French car king Renault, the richest guest who has ever visited the town is considered to be the Persian Shah Muzzefír-Eddin, the ruler of Persia between 1896 – 1907. He visited Mariánské Lázně in 1900. This visit was very expensive for Mariánské Lázně. The Persian shah escaped assassination in Brussels shortly before his arrival, and due to that serious security steps had to be taken.
The Persian Shah was kind and amiable to children. He threw them small coins during his walks and from his balcony. He graced a number of people in the town by Persian orders, first of all his police guard. Among the people who also enjoyed the Shah’s favour was a pharmacist named Karel Brem. The Shah needed spa treatments for himself as well as for his company, in addition to a large amount of medicine. Brem was named a Persian court pharmacist and he was graced with the Order of Lion and Sun of IV class for supplying medicine to the Shah.
The longest telegram
During the time of the frequent visits of King Edward VII, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, an English politician, often stayed here. In September 1899, he had a lively correspondence with London in the matter prior to the start of the Boer War in South Africa. At the end of September 1899, he received a telegram from the British Transvaal committee which contained 16,000 words! It was evidently the longest telegram which was ever received in Mariánské Lázně.
Extracted from the book:
Křížek V., Švandrlík R.: 106 x Mariánské Lázně, aneb vyprávění o městě, kterému postačilo sto let k dosažení světové proslulosti, Západočeské nakladatelství 1990