Archaeological discoveries have shown that prehistoric hunters had settled at the site of the city 10 to 40 thousand years ago, plus or minus a few thousand years. There were surely also lots of gatherers living here, but in light of their livelihoods, they didn’t leave much of a mess around to be discovered.
Celts lived here in the 4th century BC and a few coins were dropped here by Romans and the region was then taken over by the Marcomanni and Quadi, pretty much everybody who passed by this way.
According to Hájek’s Chronicle, the thermal springs were discovered here in the year 762 – specifically the strongest Teplice spring, Pravřídlo. The first reliable written record comes from the year 1057. We can find another at the end of the 12th century in connection with the establishment of the Benedictine monastery. The Church of St John the Baptist and the aforementioned monastery were founded thanks to Queen Judith, who was later also entombed here.
Teplice got its name thanks to the warm (teplý in Czech) springs, the medical effects of which were well known to the local inhabitants for hundreds of years. The beginnings of the spa itself are connected to the name of one of the highest lords of his time, Wolf of Vřesovice. Even though his name sounds like it came right out of a fairy tale, he was a very industrious man. In 1543 he received the town into his care, started building the main tract of today’s chateau and the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. He fenced in the first flowing springs and built the first separate pools for men and women, a hospital, inn and other spaces close to Pravřídla. And he understandably also began to collect an entrance fee.
After the death of Wolf of Vřesovice, Teplice passed to the Vchynský family. When William Vchynský was stabbed together with Albrecht von Wallenstein in Cheb in 1634, Teplice was first confiscated and then ended up in the hands of Johann von Aldringen as a gift for faithful service to the Emperor. Johann didn’t enjoy Teplice that much. Before he managed to take over the administration of the manor, he fell in battle against the Swedes. He truly served his Emperor well. The manor went to his sister Anna, who brought it to her marriage with Hieronymus con Clary as part of her dowry. He was later raised to the rank of a count and their descendants continued to use the joined name of both families, i.e. Clary-Aldringen.
Teplice enjoyed great renown over the centuries. This was bolstered the most by the battles that took place in the vicinity during the Napoleonic wars. The general staffs of the allied armies took up residence in the spas. After a fierce battle near Chlumec and Přestanov, the allies managed to prevent the French encroachment into Bohemia. The commanding officer of the French army was captured and escorted to Telplice. His name was Vandamme and, even though his first name was not Jean-Claude, it was a stunning success. Of course, there is no need to mention how well he was treated, since Teplice has been famous for its hospitality throughout the centuries.
The fame of Teplice continued to grow. The crème de la crème of the entire monarchy and from abroad converged here. You could encounter important monarchs here, just like writers and composers whose works now belong to the world’s cultural heritage. The city itself grew in size and beauty along with these famous visitors. Soon Teplice was known as Little Paris.
Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately. World War Two destroyed half the world, including Teplice. Emigration, anti-Jewish campaigns during the war and the post-war displacement of the population left the city almost devoid of inhabitants. The subsequent four decades of Communist rule left further damage in its wake. Today Teplice is once again picking itself up and looking for a way back to where it always was before. Basking in the limelight. It still has its springs, monuments and the will to build the city up again.