Arnold Rikli

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Arnold Rikli
Arnold Rikli.jpg
Born(1823-02-13)February 13, 1823
DiedApril 30, 1906(1906-04-30) (aged 83)
Known fornaturism

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

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 three sons. His father was involved with politics and had his own factory. 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 Spittal, Austria. There they build a new factory for leather dyeing. Rikli became very unwell with diarrhea, blaming exposure to chemicals. 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, where he thrived. After two years, he developed centres for helio-hydroscopic treatment.[1] 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 areas. Unfortunately, Rikli wasn't very popular among the local people;[2] he was considering them rustic, and locals considered Rikli to have odd practices. This may have followed from public nakedness in his park, the fact that he never learned the Slovenian language (despite living there for 52 years), and that he never accepted local customs. Signs and guides in his park were written in German. Locals nicknamed Rikli as "Švajcar" (Swiss guy) because of his nationality or "Sun doctor", because he promoted sun tanning.

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

Among the first visitors of Bled were probably the pilgrims, who 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. Besides 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 rise 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 the 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.[3][4]


His books discussed the theory and practical methods of healing with air, sun and steam baths. The books show a broad spectrum of natural healing place in Bled. Five of the books from the years 1872–1894 are held by the National and University Library of Slovenia. All the books are made out of wooden paper, which is in need of conservation. 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 these 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. ^ "A Very Brief History of Red Light". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  2. ^ Zupanic-Slavec, Z; Toplak, C (1998). "Water, air and light--Arnold Rikli (1823-1906)". Gesnerus. 55 (1–2): 58–69. doi:10.5169/seals-520867. PMID 9684537.
  3. ^ "Propadajoča Riklijeva vila znova ostala brez državne pomoči" (in Slovenian). Siol. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Riklijeva vila je izvisela" (in Slovenian). Žurnal 24. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  • Robert Jütte. Geschichte der alternativen Medizin: Von der Volksmedizin zu den unkonventionellen Therapien von heute.Verlag C. H. Beck, München 1996 (in German)
  • Brian English, Ruth West. Alternativna medicina: Najobsežnejši izbor naravnih načinov zdravljenja. Mladinska knjiga 1988 (in Slovene)
  • Lidija Vinkovič. Voda je dobra, zrak boljši, sonce pa najboljše; oglasna priloga FInance. četrtek, 24. junij 2004. stran 33(in Slovene)
  • The Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (Tanja Cegnar. Klimatska terapija: Klimatska zdravilišča in zdravilni učinki klime. 2003) (in Slovene)
  • Vlasta Gjura Kaloper. Sončna svetloba je vir življenja in zdravja; članek iz revije Sladkorna.Glasilo Zveze društev diabetikov Slovenije. številka 64. April 2006. stran 13 (in Slovene)
  • Hydro therapy (in Slovene)
  • National Library Silver Group (in Slovene)
  • The Slovene uninon of naturists clubs
  • Naturism - Oblečeni v sonce (in Slovene)
  • Zdravstveni turizem in Arnold Rikli (in Slovene)

External links[edit]