Kuks

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Location
50°24'02"N
015°53'26"E
Country
 Czech Republic
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Description

Kuks (German: Kukus) is a municipality and village in Trutnov District in the Hradec Králové Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 300 inhabitants. Its main feature is a baroque spa building with famous sculptures by Matthias Braun.

History

In 1938, it was occupied by the Wehrmacht as one of the municipalities in Sudetenland. The railroad Pardubice–Jaroměř–Trutnov, which goes through Kuks, crossed the newly established border four times within about 40 kilometres (25 mi). After the war, the German-speaking population was expelled in 1945 (see the Beneš decrees) and replaced by Czech settlers.

Spa

On the slope of the Elbe in Kuks, there used to be mineral springs. In 1692–96, Count Franz Anton von Sporck, the owner of the estate, directed three of them at one place and built a simple spa. When the healing effects of the water were proven by professors of the Charles-Ferdinand University and experts from Baden-Baden, Sporck enlarged the spa in 1707–22 with an octagonal Church of Holy Trinity, a hospital, theatre and other buildings in the Baroque style. The interiors and exteriors were decorated with Baroque sculptures by Matthias Braun, the most famous of which are the Virtues and Vices. Count Georg Ludwig Albrecht von Rantzau stayed in Kuks (Kukus-Bad) together with two young Dukes, Charles and Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in 1726. In his memoirs, he calls this place the most pleasant and comfortable spa in Europe.Sporck died in 1738 and his heirs were not interested in maintaining the spa. A flood in 1740 destroyed most of the infrastructure and put the spa out of business. The Hospital, Church, and Pharmacy buildings have been preserved, along with historic furnishings, and are considered masterpieces of the Baroque. Braun's exterior sculptures also survive, but have been fast eroding due to the action of water, from rainfall and moisture rising from the ground. For this reason, the Kuks Forest Sculptures were listed in the 2000 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund. With the financial support of American Express, pump boxes were installed to drive groundwater away from the sculptures and low-lying vegetation was removed to enhance air circulation in the damp wooded environment.
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