Český Ráj: Bohemian Paradise
Bohemian Paradise sounds very promising. Let your imagination works for a while and visualize deep forests, ruins of old castles, dramatic rock formations, breathtaking views, caves, relaxing ponds, numerous water springs, folk villages, and many, many touristic trails.
Bohemian Paradise is known as Český Ráj in Czech and is one of the most popular touristic destination (it is located only about one hour from Prague) in the Czech Republic. This place attracted many artists, writers, and painters for centuries. Already in the 19th century, the Czech Tourist Club started marking of individual trails and highlighting beautiful viewpoints. They also developed the Golden Path of Bohemian Paradise, connecting the most beautiful places of Český Ráj. Today, it has about 118 km, and you can walk it whole or visit the most interesting places, as we did.
The most recognizable landmark is Trosky castle (meaning Ruins in translation) with two peaks that you can see almost from every corner of the Bohemian Paradise. It used to be an active volcano 16 million years ago, and every peak erupted once. The castle was built only in the 14th century and is deteriorating since the Thirty Years War. I heard about a nice view from its towers, but unfortunately, I haven’t visited it yet.
Hrubá Skála Rock Town
We chose the typical highlights of the Golden Path located between Turnov and Hrubá Skála castle. This path offers hiking on gorgeous viewpoints of rock town, visit of medieval castles Valdštejn and Hrubá Skála, mysterious walks between the rocks and refreshment by the water springs.
The rocks are high up to 80 meters, and they can remind you of shapes such as dragon, lighthouse, devil’s hand, and so on. During the nice weather, you can even see climbers on the rocks and different flags on the top. Hruba Skála castle is located on the top of the rock. You can take breathtaking pictures from the viewpoints nearby.
This rock formation is bit separated, but still located on the Golden Path. In fact, this area is so picturesque that first tourist trails started to be developed here around the 1880s. This rock town is the most recognizable symbol of Bohemian Paradise. You can choose from marked tourist trails (yellow one is 1,5 km, and the green one is 3,5 km) or even do both of them. You will have a viewpoint on every corner of your trail. This is the only paid outdoor area, but the fee is pretty low (80 CZK is about 3 EUR).
At the end of our trip, we stopped by at Kost Castle, one of the biggest one in the Czech Republic. This castle is quite popular by film crews and for its medieval torture chamber. We also enjoyed a relaxing walk around the pond and admired the local traditional architecture.
How to get to Bohemian Paradise:
Bohemian Paradise is located about one hour on the highway north-east from Prague. We started our trip in Turnov and hiked around Hruba Skála rock town. Our second trip for Prachovské rocks started from the parking lot in front of the entrance, but the nearest city is Jičín. For our overnight stay, we choose very comfortable Apartmány Český Ráj with a great view over Bohemian Paradise.