National Park Podyjí: Wild Piece of Czech Nature
Podyjí is the smallest national park in the Czech Republic and also the wildest one. It is still not busy with tourists, despite its unique position on borders with Austria.
Podyjí National Park
Podyjí is one of four national parks in the Czech Republic (together with Krkonoše, Šumava, and Bohemian Switzerland), and the smallest one. You can find it right on the borders with Austria, where it continues as Thayatal National Park. Thanks to the Iron Curtain, the whole area was almost intact for decades. Only recently, people can enjoy well-preserved nature, meanders of the Dyje river with breathtaking sceneries.
Vranov nad Dyjí Chateau
There are two points considered as entry gates to the National Park Podyjí – Znojmo and Vranov nad Dyjí. The most eye-catching place is the chateau standing high on the rocks above the Dyje river. This dominant is worthwhile to visit and learn about its exciting past. From the medieval castle, it was remodeled into a Baroque chateau. Today, you can have a guided tour and admire well-preserved interiors.
Vranov Dam and Reservoir
Not far from the Vranov Chateau, you find this monumental dam with a new build bridge that is highly photogenic. The area around the reservoir is a popular summer resort with sandy beaches and restaurants. The main attraction is a boat trip that takes you alongside the whole reservoir up to the Bítov Castle. Unfortunately, I didn’t take this trip but enjoyed a walk around, especially by the modern bridge.
The area around the Dyje River was closed for decades during the Cold War. The Iron Curtain took the form of a double wired fence in the Podyjí area. It’s the only place in the Czech Republic where you can still see how the Iron Curtain looks in reality. Today, you can see about 50 meters of the fence with watchtower and freely walk in the area that was lethal for people decades ago.
Among the top location in Podyjí is the Šobes Vineyard that ranks among the top 10 wine regions in Europe. This place is unique not only for its delicious wine but also for its exceptional location hidden in the national park. There is a touristic and cycling trail leading to the Šobes, where you can reward yourself with delicious wine tasting. One more secret hint. The best view of the vineyard is from the lookout Devět mlýnů, just across the Dyje river.
Šatov Painted Cellar
The Moravian region is full of wine cellars, but this one in Šatov is special. It’s long (about 20 meters) and painted with various motives, from fairy-tales to political ones. There is a great story behind these paintings. They were created by one author, Maxmilian Appeltauer, who spent 34 years (1934 – 1968) creating this masterpiece. Furthermore, he was one-handed and worked in complete dark, only with candles attached to his hat. There is a rumor that Hitler visited the cellar personally when he inspected bunkers in this area. One of the paintings depicts Hitler’s profile but was repainted after the war. Take a guided tour, and don’t miss this rarity.
How to Get to National Park Podyjí
You can find it on borders with Austria, alongside the Dyje river, continuing to Austria as Thaya river. I would recommend you stay in Znojmo and make your trips from this beautiful city.