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Coordinates: 50°21′58″N 12°55′24″E / 50.36611°N 12.92333°E / 50.36611; 12.92333
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Upper Jáchymov
Upper Jáchymov
Flag of Jáchymov
Coat of arms of Jáchymov
Jáchymov is located in Czech Republic
Location in the Czech Republic
Coordinates: 50°21′58″N 12°55′24″E / 50.36611°N 12.92333°E / 50.36611; 12.92333
Country Czech Republic
RegionKarlovy Vary
DistrictKarlovy Vary
 • MayorJiří Kaucký
 • Total50.77 km2 (19.60 sq mi)
672 m (2,205 ft)
 • Total2,361
 • Density47/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal codes
362 51, 363 01

Jáchymov (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjaːxɪmof]; German: Sankt Joachimsthal or Joachimsthal) is a spa town in Karlovy Vary District in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 2,400 inhabitants.

Jáchymov has a long mining tradition, thanks to which it used to be the second most populous town in the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1534. At first silver was mined here. The silver Joachimsthaler coins minted here since the 16th century gave their name to the Thaler and the dollar. After the Wieliczka Salt Mine ceased industrial exploitation in 2007, the Svornost mine (1525) became the oldest mine still in use in Europe. It is also the first and for a long time the only mine in the world, where radium was mined.

The mining cultural landscape of Jáchymov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of the Ore Mountain Mining Region. The historic centre of the town is well preserved and protected as an urban monument zone.

Administrative parts[edit]

The villages of Mariánská, Nové Město, Suchá and Vršek are administrative parts of Jáchymov.


The town was founded in a nameless valley called in German just Thal (i.e. "valley"). Later it was named Sankt Joachimsthal after Saint Joachim, meaning "Saint Joachim's Valley". It later developed into the Czech name Jáchymov.[2]


Jáchymov is located about 15 kilometres (9 mi) north of Karlovy Vary, on the border with Germany. It lies in the Ore Mountains. The municipal territory includes the summit of the highest mountain of the whole mountain range, Klínovec at 1,244 metres (4,081 ft), and the third largest mountain, Božídarský Špičák at 1,115 m (3,658 ft). The town proper is situated in a valley at an altitude of 733 m (2,405 ft) above sea level.


Silver mining in Jáchymov, 1548
Jáchymovský tolar, 1525. Obverse, picturing St. Joachim.
Svornost Mine, the oldest mine still in use in Europe
Republic Square

In 1512, silver was found in the area. The village of Jáchymov was founded by Štěpán Schlick in 1516 under its German name Joachimsthal. The silver caused the population to grow rapidly, and made the Counts of Schlick, whose possessions included the town, one of the richest families in Bohemia. In 1528, Ferdinand I seized the right of mining, and the Schlick family lost their profitable business.[2][3]

Since 1520, the Schlicks had silver coins minted, which were called Joachimsthalers. They became known in German as Thaler and as tolar in Czech, which via the Dutch daalder or daler is the etymological origin of the currency name "dollar".[4][5]

The fame of Jáchymov for its ore mining and smelting works attracted the scientific attention of the doctor Georg Bauer (better known by the Latin form of his name, Georgius Agricola) in the late 1527–1531, who based his pioneering metallurgical studies on his observations made here.[6]

In 1534, Jáchymov was the second most populous town in the Kingdom of Bohemia with about 20,000 people.[3]

In 1523, the Protestant Reformation began. In the Schmalkaldic War (1546–47) Jáchymov was occupied for a time by Saxon troops. When in 1621 the Counter-reformation and re-Catholicisation took effect in the town, many Lutheran citizens and people from the mountains migrated to nearby Saxon White Serbia.[7]

Following the Silesian Wars until 1918, the town was part of Austria-Hungary, head of the district with the same name, one of the 94 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in Bohemia.[8]

In the 18th century, mining was significant in the town. In addition to silver ore, other ores were mined here: nickel, bismuth, lead, arsenic and cobalt, and near the town also tin. In the 19th century, uranium ore was also extracted in Jáchymov.[9]

There were also other industries than mining: in 1856 and 1860, a uranium paint factory and a tobacco factory were opened. In 1873, the town was badly damaged by a large fire and lost its face.[10] At the end of the 19th century, Maria Skłodowska-Curie discovered in a uraninite spoil dump from Jáchymov, ore containing the element radium, for which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Until World War I this was the foremost source of radium in the world.[11] In 1929, Dr. Löwy of Prague discovered that "mysterious emanations" in the mine led to a form of cancer. Ventilation and watering measures were introduced, miners were given higher pay and longer vacations, but death rates remained high.[12]

Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, Joachimstal was annexed by Nazi Germany and administered as part of the Reichsgau Sudetenland. Most of the German population was expelled in 1945–1946 according to the Beneš decrees.

Mining in uranium mines took place here between 1939 and 1964, for nuclear projects of Nazi and Communist facilities. It was proven that the uranium mined here was used in the German nuclear weapons program in their ultimately unsuccessful quest to build a nuclear reactor.[13] In times of Nazi occupation and Communism large prison camps were established in the town and around it. Soviet prisoners of war first worked here, and after 1948 political and other prisoners. Opponents of the new regime (Stalinism) were forced to mine uranium ore under very harsh conditions: the average life expectancy in Jáchymov at this period was 42 years. Uranium mining ceased in 1964.

The mines today (with the exception of Svornost) are no longer in operation and, for example, in the Eduard mine complex there is now a sports complex with a biathlon shooting range. The radioactive thermal springs which arise in the Svornost mine are used under the supervision of doctors for the treatment of patients with nervous and rheumatic disorders. They make use of the constantly produced radioactive gas radon (222Rn) dissolved in the water, see Radon therapy.


Historical population
Source: Censuses[14][15]


Agricola Spa Centre
Radium Palace Hotel

In 1864, a spring of radon-rich water was discovered in Jáchymov. The world's first radon spa was founded in Jáchymov in 1906, joining the existing spas of the region such as Karlovy Vary, Františkovy Lázně and Mariánské Lázně.[16][17]

The facility offers treatments for a range of medical conditions, based on the controversial theory of radiation hormesis. The treatments offered cover a range of neurological disorders and skin diseases, as well as various musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The radon baths are further alleged to improve conditions of patients with diabetes, gout and conditions arising from complications of injuries and operations.[18]


There is no railway to the town. The most important connection is the road I/25 leading from Ostrov to the Czech-German border. The bus line connects Jáchymov with Karlovy Vary.


Jáchymov is the centre of winter sports. There are three ski areas with ski lifts in the municipal territory: Novako, Klínovec and Klínovec-Neklid. In the vicinity of the town is the Eduard biathlon complex, which offers several kilometres of cross-country trails.[19]

The town has a water park that bears the name of Georgius Agricola.[19]


Royal Mint Jáchymov Museum
Town hall

The town with the surrounding area forms the Jáchymov Mining Landscape, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of Ore Mountain Mining Region.[20] There are many technical monuments associated with mining activities, including the Svornost Mine, old mines, landscaping and architecture created as a result of mining.[21]

The historic centre of the town from the 16th century is well preserved and protected by law as an urban monument zone. It is a comprehensive set of burgher houses and patrician houses with unique portals. Those that have not been preserved in the original Renaissance style have a Renaissance core and have been rebuilt mostly in the Baroque and Neoclassical style.[22] The oldest pharmacy in what is today the Czech Republic was located in the patrician house No. 131. It was opened around 1520.[23]

The history of mining in the area is together with the history of the town is documented in Royal Mint Jáchymov Museum, housed in the former royal mint on the town square.[24] The mint was built in 1533–1536 and its present form is the result of several reconstructions due to fires.[25]

Next to the mint is the town hall. It was originally the house of Hieronymus Schlick, bought by the town in 1531. It was extended in 1538–1544 and rebuilt to its present form with Art Nouveau elements in 1901–1902.[22] in the basement of the town hall there is a unique collection of the Latin school library from the early 16th century.[26]

In the middle of the town square is the Holy Trinity Column dating from 1703.[22]

The Freudenstein Castle (also called Schlick's Castle) was built like most of the town around 1520. Its purpose was the protection of mining and the town. This was probably the last castle in the Czech Republic built as a defensive element and not as an aristocratic residence. In 1634, it completely burned down and remained a ruin. Two towers with part of the fortifications have survived to this day. The so-called Schlick's tower served the town as a signal tower. The second tower, called Prachárna, served the miners as an ammunition store.[27]

Sacral monuments[edit]

Church of St. Joachim

The Church of All Saints was built in the early Renaissance style in 1520. It is a valuable building that is partially half-timbered.[28]

The Church of St. Joachim was built in 1534–1540. It was the first Lutheran church in the Kingdom of Bohemia. From 1624, it was a Roman Catholic church. In 1764–1785, the originally Renaissance building was baroque rebuilt. After it was damaged by a fire, it was reconstructed in 1874-1876 in the pseudo-Gothic style.[29]

The Evangelical church was built in the pseudo-Renaissance style in 1904 and is also a cultural monument.[22]

Spa architecture[edit]

The oldest spa building is Agricola Spa Centre, built in 1906–1911.[6] One of the landmarks of Jáchymov is the Neoclassical building of Radium Palace Hotel. It dates from 1912. It was one of the most modern hotels of its time,whose guests included Richard Strauss, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Fuad I.[16]

The Monument to Maria Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie was created by sculptor Karel Lidický in 1966. The text on it recalls the discovery of radium in this area.[30]

Notable people[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Jáchymov is twinned with:[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Population of Municipalities – 1 January 2024". Czech Statistical Office. 17 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Po stopách jáchymovského tolaru" (in Czech). Živý kraj. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Jáchymov" (in Czech). Živý kraj. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  4. ^ Anderson, Hepzibah (28 May 2019). "The Curious Origins of the Dollar". BBC. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar". BBC. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Spa Center Agricola". Léčebné lázně Jáchymov a.s. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  7. ^ More about history of the town in the 16th and 17th centuries for example in the article of Lukáš M. Vytlačil: Příběh renesančního Jáchymova [The Story of renaissance Jáchymov]. Evagelicus 2017, Prague 2016. pp. 42-45. (on-line here)
  8. ^ Die postalischen Abstempelungen auf den österreichischen Postwertzeichen-Ausgaben 1867, 1883 und 1890, Wilhelm Klein, 1967
  9. ^ "Historie města" (in Czech). Jáchymov. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  10. ^ "Významné jáchymovské letopočty" (in Czech). Jáchymov. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  11. ^ Heinrich, E. Wm. (1958). Mineralogy and Geology of Radioactive Raw Materials. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. p. 283.
  12. ^ Wiskemann, Elizabeth (1938). Czechs and Germans.
  13. ^ ""Heisenberg-Würfel" verrät Details über Hitlers Atomprogramm" (in German). Der Spiegel. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Historický lexikon obcí České republiky 1869–2011 – Okres Karlovy Vary" (in Czech). Czech Statistical Office. 21 December 2015. pp. 9–10.
  15. ^ "Population Census 2021: Population by sex". Public Database. Czech Statistical Office. 27 March 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Jáchymov – the oldest radon spa in the world". Czech Radio. 30 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  17. ^ "Radonová voda aktivuje imunitní systém" (in Czech). Naše voda. 14 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  18. ^ "Co se léčí v lázních Jáchymov" (in Czech). Léčebné lázně Jáchymov a.s. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  19. ^ a b "Zimní a letní sporty" (in Czech). Město Jáchymov. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region". UNESCO. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  21. ^ "Opatření obecné povahy č. 2/2014" (PDF) (in Czech). Ministry of Culture. 21 January 2014. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  22. ^ a b c d "Seznam památek v MPZ Jáchymov" (in Czech). Město Jáchymov, National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  23. ^ "První lékárna u nás fungovala už kolem roku 1520 v Jáchymově. Svému účelu slouží dodnes" (in Czech). Czech Radio. 7 March 2023. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  24. ^ "Jáchymov Museum". Karlovy Vary Region. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  25. ^ "Mincovna" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  26. ^ "Expozice Knihovna Latinské školy v Jáchymově" (in Czech). CzechTourism. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  27. ^ "Hrad – hrádek Freudenstein (Šlikův hrádek), zřícenina a archeologické stopy" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  28. ^ "Kostel Všech svatých" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  29. ^ "Kostel Všech svatých". Památky a příroda Karlovarska (in Czech). Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  30. ^ "Pomník Marie a Petra Curierových" (in Czech). National Heritage Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  31. ^ "Komise pro příhraniční spolupráci s Městem Schneeberg" (in Czech). Město Jáchymov. Retrieved 3 August 2023.

External links[edit]