Also known as ‘Český ráj’, the Bohemian Paradise is one of Czech Republic’s natural reserve areas. The area covers a vast 182 sq kilometres and stretches all the way up to Malá Skála in the north from Jicin in the south. The area lies north-east to the city of Prague. The name of this area was given by the patrons of the nearby spa in the 19th century at Sedmihorky. The area is one of the most sought after destinations for tourists travelling to the Czech Republic due to its exceptional chateaus, rock dwellings, castles and ruins. The area attracts a huge number of visitors in summer, so the best time to visit the Bohemian Paradise area would be in Spring i.e. in the months of April to May, or in Autumn.
Wallenstein’s Loggia is located 2 kilometres from Jicin, very close to the Bohemian Paradise. What is now called the Loggia was once a distinguished villa established by Albrecht of Wallenstein. Today, Wallenstein’s Loggia is one of the most important and scenic monuments of the Jincin region; a symbol of architectural and cultural significance. Built at the foot of the Zebina hill, the garden was equipped with fountains and pools, but, the complex was never completed. A train or bus from Jicin will get you to this baroque monument. A boulevard of Linden trees welcome the visitor to the Loggia whose landscape and architecture are an inspiration for artists, and museums. Many events like concerts, weddings and performances are carried out in the various rooms of the Loggia. A huge romantic park is located outside the complex where there is a stone grotto bearing a hermit’s statue. The visitor will also find a huge meadow with a fruit orchard.
The castle is widely known for being a symbol of the Bohemian Paradise area. Its Gothic architecture traces its development back to the 14th century. Being a national monument, the castle is administered by National Heritage Institute. The word Trosky means ‘ruins’ and it is most significant of the ruined castles in the same area. The two towers of the castle were built on two intimidating and unapproachable basalt rocks. The castle on the higher peak which is about 57 m in height, is called The Virgin (Panna in Czech) while the castle on the smaller peak, only 10m less than the bigger peak is called locally as the Old Woman (or Baba in Czech). The Bergov dynasty once had its hold on the castle, and legend has it, that one of the Bergovs had treasures hidden in the castle’s cellars after he destroyed a monastery. Many believe that the treasure is still hidden in the castle’s strong foundations. Visitors can climb both the twin towers through the stairs that go right up to the topmost point. A viewing platform that is situated on the rocky base allows tourists to witness breathtaking views of the countryside.
Lying in the heart of the Bohemian Paradise, is the Prachovské skály or the Prachov Rocks, an entanglement of sandstone caves and passages and intricate pinnacles. Certainly, its characteristics make it the most well-made rock area in Czech Republic. It is also renowned among the rock climbers in the whole of Europe for its rock climbing and hiking challenges, with its first club being established in 1907. The rocks can be accessed by car or bus transport from Jicin, which is roughly 7 kilometres away from the area. There are visible hiking trails, some of which are challenging, but volunteers are available to guide the visitor. There is also a tourist cottage between the cliffs. On the top of one formation, the visitor will see a Czech flag and a canister that contains a notebook where visitors can write their names.
Hrubá Skála Chateau
Built in the 1300’s, this gothic castle was constructed on a rock platform by Hynek from Valdstejn. Later a renaissance chateau was built in its place in the 16th century. The site can be accessed from either Turnov or Trosky. A six kilometres hike from Turnov will allow the visitor to see this gothic masterpiece. The Hruba Skala rock formations can be reached through the Gold trail. The tower which holds a stunning view of the Bohemian Paradise and the courtyard is accessible to the public. Today, the palace stands as a luxury hotel that also has a restaurant that is open to visitors.
A castle built on a tower, amidst the orchids, by Italian Carlo Lurag, in the 16th century for Humprecht Jan Czernin of Chudenic. The castle is situated on a basalt hill, right above the city. Thus many rooms of the castle including the 17 metre high banquet hall, now used for performances and weddings, was inspired by the smaller castles in Italy. There are exhibits with information on the Czernin family and there is also a museum in the castle’s interiors. There is an open air wooden terrace on the second floor that enables visitors to view the stunning panorama of the Sobotka countryside. Visitors can access the site from Sobotka railway station, which is the closest stop.