The renowned spa resort Bardejovské Kúpele (Bardejov Spa) constitutes an essential part of Bardejov. One of the most beautiful spas in Slovakia is situated in a peaceful environment just outside the town.

The healing mineral springs are the real wealth of Bardejovské Kúpele. There are few spas which can boast a combination of rare climate conditions, beautiful nature and unique mineral springs.

Event the Cistercian monks, who were helping to re-populate the areas around Bardejov after the Tatar raids, knew and made use of the healing power of these mineral springs. The first mention of Bardejovské Kúpele is from 1247 when Hungarian king Béla IV donated the territory of the current spa with all the springs to Bardejov.

The settlement in the spa dates back to the 15th century when local people built a village near the springs. The news about healing effects of the springs spread quickly and people from far away started to come. According to an account from 1505, there was an annual bathing fee of 3 golden coins. The spa history records gets more detailed after 1787 when a group of Armenian salesmen built there an accommodation with 12 rooms.

Healing effects of the springs attracted members of Hungarian and Polish aristocracy, which contributed to the development of the spa. Even when the prominence of Bardejov was on the decrease, Bardejovské Kúpele retained its prestige due to the healing power of its springs.

The 18th and 19th century marked the period of dynamic development when its aristocratic clientele regarded Bardejovské Kúpele as a luxurious and sought-after spa resort.

The majority of guests used to spend three to six weeks in the spa. Some of them were as prominent as the Polish queen Marie Casimire Sobieska, the wife of John III Sobieski (1669), Austro-Hungarian emperor Joseph II (1783), duchess Marie Louise – Napoleon's wife (1809) or Russian emperor Alexander I (1821), who stopped here on his way from the congress in Ljubljana. The cup from which Alexander drank the 'Medical Spring' is still exhibited in the museum in the Villa Rákóczi. The emperor later went to a banquet where he allegedly felt so happy that he called out: “To live and die here!”

Franz Joseph's wife Elizabeth Bavor, also called Sissi, underwent treatment here in 1895 after her son's tragic death. The cup she used to drink water from is displayed in the Villa Rákóczi. She visited the Church of Saint Egidius and gave the priest her ring which you can see in the museum in historical town hall in Bardejov. In her farewell speech the empress thanked everyone and said: "I spent three incredible weeks of my life amid the quiet beauty of Bardejovské Kúpele. I'm feeling healthy and refreshed – like I was eighteen." The people of Bardejov built a bronze statue in memory of Sissi, which is still in the Spa park.

The first scientific reference about the local springs is from 1795 by Pavol Kitaibel from Budapest who considered local sour mineral water to be one the most healing waters in Europe. After this, water would be exported to Budapest, Warsaw, Berlin or Frankfurt.

The history of Bardejovské Kúpele is thoroughly covered in the exhibition of Šariš Museum in the Villa Rákóczi.

The healing waters are currently used for drinking treatments, mineral baths, and inhalations as their alkaline-salty, ferric content offers exceptional healing effects. However, the exact chemical composition of each spring differsand helps treat different diseases. All springs are connected to the Colonnade where they are used for interior balneotherapy in the form of drinking treatments. The names of the eight healing springs are: Hlavný (Main), Lekársky (Medical), Klára, Alžbeta, Napoleon, František, Herkules, and Alexander.

The geographical location, microclimate, natural environment and mineral waters have beneficial effects on diseases of digestive, circulatory, urinary and muscular system, as well as respiratory diseases, metabolism problems, oncological and gynecological diseases, or occupational illnesses. The range of diseases treated in Bardejovské Kúpele is the widest in Slovakia.

Long tradition and high level of spa treatment coupled with quiet and marvelous environment of Bardejovské Kúpele guarantee you a pleasant and comfortable stay to recharge your batteries and get inspired.

Translated by:
Mgr. Tomáš Fedorko

Juraj Šott, M.A.