Czech Republic - Surroundings of Prague

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Dec 09, 2014

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Sleeping under the open sky

Flag of Czech Republic  , Vysočina,
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 0: July 18, 2013

Arrival & First Overnight Stay

We arrived in Prague at 17.00, met with my friend Sarka, went to her apartment, got our things ready and left for the main train station where we were supposed to meet with other Tereza's friends (Martin and Jarda). We took a train from Prague to Caslav at 19.00.

When we got off the train in Caslav it was already quite late (around 20.30), however, we decided to walk a little bit in order to get a little bit further from the city of Caslav. After walking approx. 5 km we found a suitable place for spending the first night (even if it was somebody's garden, in any case there was no fence or dogs). We took out our sleeping bags and while trying to get rid of stupid mosquitos that were buzzing next to our heads and biting us all night long we had a bit of sleep.

Day 1: July 19, 2013

Castle Zleby

When we woke up it seemed to be quite late, especially because the sun was already up. We also considered the night to be longer than it was in reality since it was almost impossible to get some sleep. We started heading to our first destination – Castle Zleby – at 7.00 :)

After 30-minute walk we reached the castle that was completely empty. Even if we had breakfast over there we had to keep waiting another 30 minutes before the castle was opened. There were three different circuits:
  • Circuit I: Magic of the romantic castle
  • Circuit II: Live in the castle
  • Circuit III: Residence of the aristocracy
We chose the second circuit which lasted approx. 70 minutes and cost us CZK 160 per person. This tour included newly reconstructed interiors of the western and northern upper wing of the castle, private rooms of the aristocratic family and guest apartments, a view tower and medieval undergrounds and a unique castle theater with a large collection of historical costumes.

The Castle Zleby was founded as a gothic fortress by family Lichtenburk before 1289, rebuilt after Hussite Wars in the middle of the 15th century. The castle was also reconstructed in renessaince and baroque style. Last great reconstruction in 1849-68 was managed by Karel Vincenc Auersperg. You could find old historical relies or copies of old relies moved to the Castle Zleby from the entire Europe. Collections of leather wallpapers, painted glass in windows, furniture and other stuff were designed according to the original documents from the 19th century.

We were happy to visit the Castle Zleby. Although its outside part was under reconstruction we were very impressed by the interiors of the castle that looked amazing. It seemed to us that the aristocratic family simply kept living inside of the castle. The castle was full of life, most likely thanks to numerous pieces of furniture, pictures, books or the then dishes or clothes. Most of the contemporary castles enable rather a sad look since the original equipment has been stolen, burned down or just taken.

After visiting the castle we went to the game enclosure belonging to the Castle Zleby. The entrance was CZK 40 per person. We managed to see feeding of white deers as well as the excellent show of birds of prey.

Then we had to walk roughly 3 km to a neighboring village called Horky where we took a train to Svetla nad Sazavou (a town with more than 6 000 inhabitants). After lunch we took another train to the station Smrcna where we got off the train so as to enjoy a very pleasant walking along the River Sazava. We even stopped in one part of the river for a while to refresh ourselves. Sarka was the first one who bravely stepped into the river, it wasnīt deep at all but there was quite a strong stream and many stones at the bottom of the river so everyone had to move slowly. Suddenly Gonzalo started messing with Sarka, pretending heīs pushing her to the water. In fact he pushed her a little bit and since the bottom of the river was too slippery Sarka couldnīt keep balance for a long time and fell to the river. What a funny moment :) I mean for me, just to be sure that nothing similar will happen to me, I didnīt even touch the water because it was obviously too cold for me.

After a while we continued to the campsite "Stvoridla" where we paid CZK 28 per person (we got a reasonable discount since we didnīt bring our tents). Later we made a campfire and prepared in its flames typical Czech sausages that are normally eaten with bread and mustard….yummi! After a delicious dinner one by one we started falling asleep. The second night was much better since the campfire kept the mosquitos away.

Day 2: July 20, 2013

Surroundings of the River Sazava
We woke up at 9.00, had a doughnut for breakfast and at about 10.30 we left our campsite. Our next stop was another village called Vilemovice where we were attracted by the supposed oldest tree in the Czech Republic (red yew). Itīs said itīs more than 1 800 years old, however, many specialists are still making doubts about this age of the tree.

Well, since there was a good-looking restaurant in the village we took advantage of this fact and had a tasty lunch over there (at least Gonzalo could try again a typical Czech cuisine in the form of goulash).

From Vilemovice it was only 2 km to the place called "Slunecni zatoka" (it can be translated to English as "Sun bay"). Between 1925 and 1945 it was a site of the oldest Czech scout division called "Prazska dvojka". The leader of such a scout camp was a very famous Czech writer Jaroslav Foglar. This place even inspired him for writing of one of his most popular books - Hosi od Bobri reky.
Then we were walking for another 5 km till we reached the town of Ledec nad Sazavou where we bought some food in the local supermarket. Since we decided to spend our last night near the Castle Chrenovice we had to keep walking 5 more kilometers. We were under the castle quite early so everybody (again besides me) decided to have a bath in the River Sazava. I was just chilling on the bank of the river, watching over the other members of our group.

Later we climbed up to the Castle Chrenovice and even if it was prohibited to overnight there we didnīt hesitate to stay as we planned from the very beginning. It was a little bit creepy since the castle was situated in the middle of the forest without any lights, however, in the end everything went smoothly and nobody was murdered that night :)

Day 3: July 21, 2013 
Kutna Hora

We woke up very early at 6.45 to be able to catch a train from Chrenovice to Kutna Hora so we were getting back to civilization again. There are several things to see in Kutna Hora. It was a great idea to visit Kutna Hora since it belongs to one of the most important cities in the history of the Czech lands (itīs said that in a certain moment it was even competing with Prague) and except of Jarda nobody has ever been there.

Kutna Hora developed as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines. In the 14th century it became a royal city endowed with monuments that symbolized its prosperity. Today Kutna Hora and the neighboring town of Sedlec are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Among the most important constructions we would like to name the following:
  • St. Barbara's Temple
  • Cathedral of Our Lady
  • Sedlec Ossuary 
  • Czech Museum of Silver
First of all, we visited the Sedlec Ossuary which is located roughly 2 km from the city center, basically on the way from the train station where we arrived at about 9.00 and left our bags in the luggage room. In any case the Sedlec Ossuary is very impressive place, especially for lovers of horror movies :) Weīve heard that there is a similar place in Milan but unfortunately we have never been there.

The history of our Czech ossuary, which belongs to the most visited tourist attractions of the Czech Republic, is quite interesting. In 1278 a certain abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia. He returned with a small amount of earth he had removed from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the abbey cemetery. The word of this pious act soon spread and the cemetery in Sedlec became a desirable burial site throughout Central Europe. In the middle of the 14th century, during the Black Death, and after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century, many thousands were buried in the abbey cemetery, so it had to be greatly enlarged. After 1511, the task of exhuming skeletons and stacking their bones in the chapel was given to a half-blind monk of the order. Today the ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.

After observing breathtaking decorations of the ossuary we started heading to the city center where we visited the Czech Museum of Silver. Part of the mining-historical exposition is also medieval mine which was discovered in 1967. We were lucky to go down to the depth of 33 m using 169 steps. We were told a lot of valuable information about the mining history of that region, about everyday life of miners and their families and also about different techniques of mining. The price of tour was CZK 120 per adult and lasted 1,5 hours. We believe all of us liked it since it was entertaining and enlightening at the same time.

Then we went to see the St. Barbara's Temple which is supposed to be a jewel of the late Gothic period, and after lunch also the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec which was restored in line with the Baroque taste of the early 18th century. Both of these masterpieces were to influence the architecture of Central Europe and today form part of a well-preserved medieval urban fabric with some particularly fine private dwellings.

At 17.00 we took a train back to Prague where we arrived at about 18.00. It was a great long weekend. Not only that Tereza could see her old friends again and realize with them another unforgettable trip (as every summer from 2002 till 2009) but also we managed to visit many attractive places, so far unknown for most of us (both nationalities - Czechs and Chileans). Definitely thumb up :)    
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