Earth : Europe : Central Europe : Czech Republic : Central Bohemia : Poděbrady
Podebrady is a town in the Czech Republic.
The small and pleasant spa town of Podebrady is an hour or two to the northeast of Prague.
King George of Podebrady (Jiří z Poděbrad), a contemporary of Jan Zizka and the only Hussite king to sit on the Czech throne, gets his name from this city (He also gave his name to a Prague metro stop - Jiriho z Podebrad - and is an important nationalist figure in Czech history, as someone who stood up against the status quo for his people and their religious freedom. See section on the Hussites).
Take a fast train (rychlík) from Prague (station Praha hl.n. or Praha-Vysočany) with destination Hradec Králové every hour during daytime. Travel time to Poděbrady is approx. 1 hour, basic fare 78 CZK single, 140 CZK return (March 2010).
There is a large equestrian statue of King George in the town square, a medieval castle which now houses both a hotel school and the Charles University Czech for foreigners summer program, and the spa itself.
"Taking the waters"
"Take the waters" by bringing your own container to fill at one of the fountains around town. Becherovka gets its name from the mugs ("Becher," in German) traditionally used at these fountains, and for the most part, tastes much better than the mildly radioactive, heavy-mineral-content water! The water here is supposed to be good for heart conditions, hence the heart-shaped flowerbeds and statues. Podebrady is much less commercial than other spa towns in the Czech Republic and therefore a better representation of Central European spa culture.
Bohemian crystal manufacturing
Bohemia has long been known for producing excellent crystal, as the shop windows in Prague's Old Town attest. At the end of the flower-lined alley which spa-goers are meant to stroll along, very near the train station, is a factory-direct crystal store with prices a fraction of what they would be in Prague. Tours of the factory are occasionally available, but in the store there are also pictures of how the crystal is cut and shaped. Podebrady is worth half a days' trip from Prague if only to buy bargain Becherovka and crystal.