Mariánské Lázne

The larger colonnade in Mariánské Lázne © Ricky Yates

The larger colonnade in Mariánské Lázne © Ricky Yates

Mariánské Lázne is a spa town in West Bohemia, located not far from the German border. Better known by its German name of Marienbad, in the nineteenth century, it developed as one of the top European spas, popular with notable figures and rulers who often returned there on numerous occasions.

To meet the needs of these international visitors, a whole series of hotels, colonnades and other buildings were constructed. These included Churches of different denominations, all located in relatively close proximity to each other.

Kostel Svatého Vladimíra © Ricky Yates

Kostel Svatého Vladimíra © Ricky Yates

This is Kostel Svatého Vladimíra, the Russian Orthodox Church. It is still in use, though the number of Russian visitors has dropped considerably in recent times, because of the serious fall in value of the rouble.

Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie © Ricky Yates

Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie © Ricky Yates

Here is Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie, the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was constructed between 1844-1848 in the ‘new Byzantine style’, according to my research.

Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church © Ricky Yates

Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church © Ricky Yates

Squeezed between two taller and grander buildings, is the Evangelický kostel / Protestant Church. It was built to meet the needs of Protestant guests, in the years 1853-1857, from the public subscriptions of German Lutherans. In 1907, stained glass windows were added, donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It continues to be used for worship by the Ceskobratská Církev Evangelická, the main Czech Protestant Church.

The Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

The Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

And yes – there is also an Anglican Church. It is a classic example of a red brick Victorian Church building and was consecrated by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1879. My understanding is that it fell into disuse, some time in the late 1920s–early 1930s, when a combination of the Stock Market crash of 1929, and the subsequent rise to power of Adolf Hitler, meant that British citizens no longer came to take the waters.

Former Anglican Church in Mariánské Lázne © Sybille Yates

Former Anglican Church in Mariánské Lázne © Sybille Yates

Sybille and I had twice previously visited Mariánské Lázne during the early part of our time in the Czech Republic, but on both occasions it was in winter and the Anglican Church building was snowbound and locked. So I was very pleased that when I was there again last Saturday, that it was open and I was able to go inside.

Noticeboard © Ricky Yates

Noticeboard © Ricky Yates

Since the early 1990s, the building has belonged to the Mariánské Lázne Town Council, who use it as an Exhibition and Concert Venue. But the reason I found it open was because it was being made ready for a wedding that was to take place there later that afternoon. No doubt this would have been a civil ceremony, conducted by the local registrar. The main reason that I was visiting Mariánské Lázne was to conduct a religious wedding, following the liturgy of the Church of England, but at a different venue. Somewhat ironic to say the least!

Plaque commemorating King Edward VII worshipping in the Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

Plaque commemorating King Edward VII worshipping in the Anglican Church © Ricky Yates

Of the original interior, the only remaining features are the pulpit and this marble memorial plaque from 1911, commemorating the frequent visits of King Edward VII, both as Prince of Wales and later, as King. I knew that this plaque existed and was very pleased to be finally able to see it, and get a photographic record.

The smaller colonnade being made ready for the wedding © Ricky Yates

The smaller colonnade being made ready for the wedding © Ricky Yates

Finally for this post, here is the smaller of the two colonnades in Mariánské Lázne, being made ready for the wedding I was there to conduct. The larger colonnade is featured in the first photograph of this post. The happy couple were Bismark and Hannah. Bismark comes from Ghana whilst Hannah was born in Norway, but of Ghanaian parents. They met whilst both studying medicine in Hradec Králové and are now working as doctors in Norway.

They originally asked if I would conduct a service of blessing for them, following a civil marriage. But once I explained that I could legally marry them, they gladly agreed. We did have a few problems, convincing the local registrar that I could conduct a legal marriage ceremony for them. However, we did eventually succeed. Below are the happy couple, following the marriage.

Bismark & Hannah following their wedding © Ricky Yates

Bismark & Hannah following their wedding © Ricky Yates

8 comments to Mariánské Lázne

  • Sean Mccann

    Once more your stunning photography makes me wish to see the place for myself- beautiful images as always Ricky! A splendid location for a wedding and a wonderful spell of weather too, that couple were doubly blessed. The Czechs are to be commended for their continuing care for such centres which must have some ambivalent if not negative historical memories for many Czech people. I realise there is the economic or monetary tourism value of such centres but I can’t help comparing the reaction of the Irish state and people over many decades to many vestiges of our history within the British Empire – officially ignore, downplay or openly deny the existence of any remaining structures, links or memorabilia. The Czech openness to all aspects of their history is healthier I think. Thanks for another great post Ricky.

    • Ricky

      Hello again Sean – thank you for your compliments regarding my photographs. Certainly the excellent weather did help!

      It is to the credit of the Czech people that so many of the buildings in Mariánské Lázne have been so beautifully restored since 1989. For sure it helps boost income from tourism but also preserves the cultural heritage. Post 1918, when the nation of Czechoslovakia was established, Mariánské Lázne lay in what was known as Sudetenland, those parts of the country which had a majority German-speaking population. With the expulsion of the Sudetendeutsche population in 1945, it became very de-populated & once the Communists took power in 1948, it lay in the restricted zone because of being so close to the border with capitalist West Germany.

      Therefore the town has made a remarkable recovery since the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Whilst there are old hotels & other buildings in some of the back streets that are still in need of restoration and renovation, a remarkable amount of progress has been made. I noticed numerous improvements since our two previous visits, six or seven years ago. A place well worth visiting as part of any future trip to the Czech Republic.

  • Em

    That is quite a lot of churches for small Marianske Lazne! The Anglican Church picture looks like a scene from the English countryside; how nice that you could get into it this time. Those colonnades make a gorgeous backdrop for the wedding, and what a beautiful couple you wed. Did you take the waters on this trip?

    • Ricky

      It is quite a lot of Churches but the reason is, as I explain in the post – to meet the worshipping needs of a variety of international visitors. The Anglican Church is more of the ilk that you find in the suburbs of English town & cities, where the Victorians built red brick Churches like this, as people moved to larger urban settlements as part of the industrial revolution.

      The colonnades are quite amazing & have been beautifully restored in recent years. But no – I refrained from taking the waters 🙂

  • I must echo Sean’s praise of your photos, Ricky. They are always splendid. Of course I’ve heard of Marienbad and your post makes me want to visit one day.

    • Ricky

      Thank you for your photographic compliments, Perpetua. I’m sure you would enjoy visiting Mariánské Lázne/Mariendbad, should you get the opportunity.

  • Local

    What a shame!
    English gentleman forgot to mention The Royal Golf Club Marienbad!
    This is Your His/Her Majesty Club not Our c.k./k.k(císa?sko-královský/kaiserlich-königlich)Club.

    http://www.golfml.cz/en/history

    • Ricky

      Thank you for this fascinating link. I had no idea about this golf club in Mariánské Lázne or that King Edward VII played golf.