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Sopot as a Renowned Spa Resort

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With its magnificent geographical location and a well-developed tourism infrastructure, Sopot has always been a fashionable resort. The late-19th and early-20th-century aristocrats and artists from all over the world were attracted to the spa by the city's baths and the seaside air. Later further attractions like the horse racing track and the casino encouraged crowds of tourists to visit the city.

The pre-war reputation of Sopot as an affluent destination is reflected in the flamboyant architecture of the old fin-de-siecle villas, some of which have been preserved till today and have served as hotels, pubs and restaurants.

The origins of Sopot as a spa date back as far as the year 1819 when Carl Christoph Wegner, a Gdansk merchant, opened the first public bath in the city. However, it turned out to be an unsuccessful undertaking. Thus, new attempts at promoting Sopot as a spa were made by dr Jean Georg Haffner, a former medic of the Napoleon Army, in 1823. Upon his opening a new bath complex and other spa facilities, Sopot began to attract more and more tourists every year. At the beginning of the 20th century Sopot was known as Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany's favourite spa. As time went by, the sanatoria, tennis courts, a horse racing track, a casino, a theatre and new baths built south of the old ones attracted more and more visitors.

In 1927 the Kasino-Hotel, renamed the Grand Hotel after World War II, was erected and has been among the city's most famous landmarks and the Pomeranian most luxurious hotels ever since. It saw such celebrity guests as: Marlena Dietrich, German singer and actress, Charles de Gaulle, French President and Fidel Castro, President of Cuba. In 1997 the Saint Adalbert spring was opened in Sopot, which two years later let Sopot regain the official status as a spa town.

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