It’s a place, where not only sacred buildings or palaces remembering the times of luxurious parties can be recognized as monuments. An equally noteworthy point is a hospital, which should definitely find on the list of must-sees of every visitor.
The world doesn’t lack in tiny, almost microscopic villages famous for huge attractions. And you don’t need to look far to find an example- in Poland, such a place would be Lipka, to which pilgrimages started to come already in the fifteenth century. The village lying in the beautiful surroundings of forests is full of farmhouses, guesthouses and hotels, but it has only a few hundreds inhabitants.
About 30 km from the Polish border is a similar place, called Kuks. This charming and tiny village located in the Czech district of Trutnov, was founded in the late seventeenth century as a resort-residence of the Count F.A. Špork. The founder spent a huge amount of money so the city could gain an appropriate splendor – he built great baths and an equally magnificent palace, theater, library and a racetrack. Later, he founded an enormous monastery of Bonifratri with the tomb of Špork family, the Church of Holy Trinity and a hospital, which was one of the few buildings of the complex that has been preserved to the present day.
It’s not a story about an ordinary building, as it might seem. Hospital in Kuks is a huge building with lots of gorgeous Baroque statues standing in the front. It originally comprised a luxury spa, which in its heyday matched up to the most famous and popular European resorts. It was adorned by massive colonnades (the first in the Czech Republic), while the presence of the Venetian opera gave it a majestic relish. Unfortunately, once the place was destroyed by the flood, it never happened to recover and regain its splendor.
Now, the only remained parts of the complex are four spas, the stairs with water cascades and the hospital standing on a hill, which now houses the Czech Museum of Pharmacy. The remains of the magnificent complex can be visited only with a guide.
Wandering around the old spa
What can be seen in the former spa complex, which, according to the plans of the Count, was supposed to outshine Wiesbaden and Karlovy Vary with its splendor? Tourists will be able to visit the historic pharmacy, which is a part of the museum. It’s one of the two oldest buildings of this type in the world, and contains amazing pharmacy furniture, which raise associations with magical recipes. You can also go to the Špork’s family tomb, located beneath the Church of the Holy Trinity. It’s a place where the mummy of the Count rests, as well as another work of Braun – an expressive crucifix.
In Lapidary you can see the main attraction of Kuks – the Virtues and Vices constituting the largest collection of its type in the world. A series of beautiful sculptures carved by Matthew Bernard Braun, one of the most famous Austrian sculptors of the Baroque period, pleases the eye but also inspires a reflection. Original works of the artist have been transferred to the interior of the complex, because otherwise it could been destroyed by some extraneous factors. Currently, only copies are standing in front of the building, which are allegories of virtues (including faith, hope and love) and vices (such as fornication, anger and gluttony).
The works of the Austrian sculptor can be found not only in the complex, but also in its vicinity. Approx. 3 km from the village stands a stone shed (Betlém). In the past it housed many expressive sculptures, today only a few are left, but they are really impressive – especially an inclined silhouette of a hermit Juan Garin, repenting for sins in this position.
While in Kuks, it is worth to pay a visit to Josefov and see the local fortress. With a lamp in hand, you can explore a part of the mine sidewalks, which is a big attraction especially in the hot days of summer. Equally noteworthy is also the town of Dvůr Králové, famous for its huge zoo and a safari. It’s open throughout the year, and the tour takes place in a special double-decker buses.
Kuks is located on the way from Jaroměř to Dvůr Králové. The buildings of the complex can be seen from the road, so it’s very easy to find them, and in case anyone missed it, he can follow the signs. Holidays start just in a few days, so it’s worth to consider a short trip to our neighbors.