Literary Gadling: Goethe’s Spa Romance

As another tip in my irregular series of literary travel destinations, I suggest visiting Marianske Lazne (aka Marienbad, in German), a spa town in Western Bohemia (Czech Republic), which Johann Wolfgang Goethe used to frequent in the 1820’s.

Goethe, a German poet and novelist, most famous for “Faust”, used to come here to relax …although some sources say that he actually came here to get treated for syphilis. It is peculiar to imagine how a hot mineral bath would cure venereal disease, but even more peculiar is that people actually came to this disease-laden place to seek romance. It was here where the 73-year old Goethe fell in love with the 18-year old baroness, Ulrike von Levetzow. He wanted to marry her but , shockingly enough, she rejected him. Instead, he wrote the “Trilogy of Passion” for her.

Marianske Lazne, smaller and more authentic than Karlovy Vary, still has the feel of a town frequented by the royalty, although nowadays you are more likely to see a busload of German pensioners than beautiful baronesses. The town and its numerous spas have been restored and it is still a great place to sip mineral waters, take baths and, of course, munch on the famous spa wafers. Thankfully, more effective medication for STDs have been discovered.