Arnold Rikli

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Arnold Rikli
Arnold Rikli.jpg
Born (1823-02-13)February 13, 1823
Wangen an der Aare, Switzerland
Died April 30, 1906(1906-04-30) (aged 83)
Sankt Thomas, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (now Austria)
Nationality Swiss
Occupation physician
Known for naturism

Arnold Rikli (13 February 1823 – 30 April 1906) was a Swiss natural healer and physician.

Rikli proposed various therapies, mostly based on exposing the body to sun and air, called sun tanning, preferably done while naked. He is one of the forefathers of a movement called naturism today.


Rikli was born in a wealthy Swiss family as one of the third sons. His father was a famous man who was involved with politics and had his own fabric. Fathers wish was that his sons would inherit his knowledge and ambitions, therefore he sent Rikli and his brother Karl in the village Seebach near Klagenfurt, Austria. There they build a new fabric for leather painting. Because of the contact with the chemicals, Rikli got very sick and was facing a hard diarrhea. He was looking for a place to rest and heal himself. He found Bled in Slovenia and went there in 1852 for the first time. He liked all things about Bled from the surroundings to fresh air, climate and water. He was healed soon. He was so much fascinated about Bled, that he developed one of the European healing centres after two years, so called helio-hydroscopic treatment. He abandoned the family business and started his own healing method in Bled instead. His healing was founded on swimming in cold water, sun tanning and walking. For him the air, sun and water were the source of health. His famous quote was "Water is good, air is better and most of all the sunlight". Guests were residing in special houses, washing in tubs and walking naked in the surroundings area, most of all on the neighbouring hill called Straža, where today is a ski, walking, trim and skeleton area. Unfortunately, Rikli wasn't very popular among the local people, he was thinking of them as a village people and locals though about Rikli as a weirdo. They were very ashamed about Rikli's health tourism, because the people were walking around naked in the park. Even that Rikli lived 52 years in Bled he never learned the Slovenian language and never accepted the local customs. The guiding tables in the park were written in German language. Locals have nicknamed Rikli as "Švajcar" (Swiss guy), because he came from Switzerland or "Sun doctor", because he promoted sun tanning.

Rikli's contribution to health tourism in Bled, Slovenia[edit]

Among first visitors of Bled were probably the pilgrims, which came from various parts of Slovenia and Friuli–Venezia Giulia and were visiting the church on Bled island. Rikli was among the first people who noticed the healing effect of the natural environment in Bled. He has created baths, walking paths, hiking paths and housing. In the year 1895 he has built a wooden house and baths in Swiss style and a hospital with his own examination office. Because the word spread across Europe about the healing power of Bled, they built a larger swimming place in 1899. Beside the people who were looking for healing, Bled started to attract people, who wanted to spend their holidays in a healthy and clean environment. The number of visitors started to raise in 1870, after the new railway connection between Ljubljana and Tarvisio, where the place got his own railway station in Lesce. In the year 1903 Bled was awarded with a gold medal on international fair of healing places in Vienna, in the year 1906 Bled was classified among the best tourist destinations in Austro-Hungarian Empire. The healing place was operating until first world war, and was later abandoned. Rikli has received a statue at his 50th healing anniversary. His methods combined with the new therapy are continued at present times in Hotel Golf in medico-regenerative programs. Every year, starting with July, Bled organizes Rikli's sport days and hiking on Rikli's paths. At that time hikers walk, run and climb on the hills above Bled and talk about the healing powers of Rikli. Rikli's Villa is under the cultural guidance, but it is sadly falling apart. The owner of the building is Nicholas Oman.[1][2]


Rikli wrote several books. In them he wrote about his methods, theory and practical methods of healing with air, sun and steam baths. Books represent significant role to the development of the medicine and show a big spectrum of natural healing place in Bled. Five of the books from the years 1872, 1889, 1890 and 1894 are being held inside National and University Library of Slovenia. All the books are made out of wooden paper, which is tearing apart. These books belong to the silver group, where they keep incunabulas, older prints and hand-writings. They are one of the most precious possessions of the National and University Library of Slovenia, because this is the only library which keeps the original examples. There is no other archive of this books available or other copies in Slovenia.

His books are :

  • Arnold Rikli: Rikli‛s Bett - und Theildampfbäder, 3. verbesserte Auflage, 1872
  • Arnold Rikli: Rikli‛s Bett - und Theildampfbäder, 4. verbesserte Auflage, 1889
  • Arnold Rikli: Die Grundlehren der Naturheilkunde (first title »Allgemeine Curregeln«) mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der atmosphärischen Cur, verbesserte Aufl., 1890
  • Arnold Rikli: Die atmosphärische Kur oder das Lichtluftbad und das Sonnenbad und die Sonne der schärfste Diagnostiker und prognostiker, 4. verbesserte Auflage, 1894
  • Arnold Rikli: Die atmosphärische Cur oder die Sonne der schärfste Diagnostiker und Prognostiker. Special Print from »Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspflege und Naturheilkunde«, Berlin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Propadajoča Riklijeva vila znova ostala brez državne pomoči" (in Slovenian). Siol. 2010-07-05. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Riklijeva vila je izvisela" (in Slovenian). Žurnal 24. 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2011-01-01.