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Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Karlovy Vary

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Moser Glassworks (Sklárne Moser)
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Bohemia has long been associated with the making of fine crystal and glassware, and one of its finest exponents is Moser Glassworks (Sklárne Moser), founded in 1893 and based in the famous, picturesque spa town of Karlovy Vary, 130 km (81.25 miles) west of Prague. Traditionally made according to a secret formula, Moser glass is renowned for its intense, jewel-like colors and is created by hand in the factory – which is open for tours – using eco-friendly lead-free crystal. Glassblowers hand their skills on from generation to generation and in all it takes up to ten years to become expert in hand shaping and blowing the glass while working alongside furnaces heated to 1,200°C. Elegant Moser glassware graces Royal tables and Is used in the making of the awards for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, held each year in July. Fine examples of the craft, from sapphire-blue flower vases to delicately gilded wine goblets, are beautifully displayed in the new Moser Museum, which offers multimedia accounts of the company’s long history while celebrating more than 120 years of glass-blowing talent. A sales gallery allows visitors to purchase Moser glassware and the café terrace is a pleasant summer spot for coffee and cake amid sparkling crystal sculptures and splashing fountains.

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Jan Becher Museum (Jan Becher Muzeum)

The ornate Baroque town of Karlovy Vary in Western Bohemia is famous for its spas, crystal ware and Becherovka, a herbal liqueur that was first concocted in 1807 by pharmacist Jan Becher using the pure water that made the town famous. Today Becherovka is still distilled to the same secret recipe – known only to two people at any one time – using a mixture of natural ingredients including sugar, cinnamon, herbs and spices. It is one of the Czech Republic’s favorite tipples and is also exported to more than 35 countries worldwide. The Jan Becher Museum (Jan Becher Muzeum) opened in 2009 in the distillery’s original premises when production moved into larger premises. Guided tours take in the original subterranean cellars, where Becherovka was stored for two months in vast oak barrels, and showcase the history of the liqueur in a short movie before tracing each stage of its production. The museum is filled with portraits of six generations of the Becher family, two centuries’ worth of advertising posters and examples of the porcelain cups from which Becherovka was traditionally drunk.

After visiting the museum, Becherovka is available to sample straight or in a variety of cocktails in the tasting room, the Terrace Bar and the Esplanade; it can also be bought in personalized versions of its distinctively flat, green bottle to be taken home as a souvenir.

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