In the north of Czechia, between Jicin, Sobotka, Svijany, and Turnov lays an area called Bohemian Paradise. It was named this way by few guests of the Sedmihorky bath. On 182 square kilometers, there’re sandstone rock formations, castles, and hundreds of kilometers of hiking or cycle paths. Bohemian Paradise is so unique it became a part of the UNESCO geo-parks in 2005. One of the most enticing and alluring places of Bohemian Paradise is the Prachov Rocks with its 5 kilometers of tourist trails, 10 viewpoints, 2848 stairs to be specific, and the narrowest path, which is 40 centimeters wide. Are you ready to hear more?
The rock towns like the Prachov Rocks are remnants from the Mesozoic Era and times when everything was under the Sea. Within 10 million years deposits from the sea hardened into layers of several meters’ thick sandstone. Consecutively, the unified sandstone slab got torn apart by volcanic activity. That’s how the base of the rock towns came into existence. The final touch was added by water and wind erosion.
It was also here in Prachov Rocks, where the first in history sandstone climbing took place. Back in 1907, on October 4th Josef Hendrych and Josef Kubin climbed atop the Monk rock tower for the very first time. They’re both the founders of the Prachov Climbing Club and started the climbing trend. Today, there’s a flag on top of the Monk rock to commemorate their brave action.
SYMBOLS OF PRACHOV ROCKS
So-called Prachov Needle and Prachov Cap are the symbols of Prachov Rocks, which silhouette’s a part of the logo of Prachov Climbing Club. Both are also the most famous climbing target till present days, but the first to climb them was Saxon climber, Walter Barth, who did it in August 1929.
There’re two recommended routes to follow.
Short route, which is 1,5 kilometers long and is marked as yellow tourist path. This trail is for those, who want to visit Bohemian Paradise, but don’t have enough time or are afraid of more demanding conditions. Unfortunately, it misses most of the lookouts, leaving only two on the way. It does however go through the magnificent Emperor’s Pass and reaches to the Tourist Cottage, where you can get some rest before returning, grab some food and buy souvenirs.
Long Route, which is 3,5 kilometers long and is marked as a green tourist path. This trail includes all lookout views, except the most important one: Bohemian Paradise viewpoint (yellow path). This path actually starts at the Tourist Cottage and at the Dolni pokladna, but you can reach it from Prachov as well. It’s definitely more difficult than the short route, but only because there’re more ascents for the lookouts. You can expect here the
Pram route – unfortunately, it’s not possible to access every corner of Prachov rocks with a stroller or a pram, so this is just an alternative route to families with babies. It passes by the lookout points and offers a walk in the forest.
We decided to choose the green path, to see more of Bohemian Paradise, but because the rock formation on the green path collapsed, part of it was closed. It was during our visit in September 2021. We had to combine all possible paths to see every lookout, climb every step and follow every little path. I have no idea how we did it, but we walked in total around 10 kilometers. We started in Prachov, followed the red path till the Hlaholska lookout, where we changed the path to the green. Next, we walked through Emperor’s Pass and from that point we followed the yellow path. We went through the Mousehole (Mysi dira) in directions to Bohemian Paradise lookout. After that, we returned to the crossroads Tocenice and followed the yellow path to the Tourist Cottage. On the way back we chose to follow the green path through Pechova lookout, Fortna, and Sikma Tower. In the end, we followed the red path back to our starting point.
The entrance fee makes 100 kc for an adult and 50 kc for kids. The area you enter is a Nature Reserve, so it’s strictly forbidden to sidestep, destroy the rocks, trample wherever, and cycle. Keep your ticket, you’ll use it again once you leave for the Tourist Cottage. When returning back on track, you can use the same ticket. The parking fee is 90 kc per day, there’re two parking spots from the Prachov and one by the Tourist Cottage (Turisticka Chata)
This is an amazing place to rest a bit, fill your stomach, use the toilet and buy some souvenirs. The Tourist Cottage offers not only a warm meal but also accommodation. It’s also a little paradise for kids, as there’s a huge sandbox with few barrows, many sand shovels, and diggers.
We hesitated for a while if kids will enjoy this kind of trip, where we mostly walk. But after all it was a good decision to take them with us. They liked every moment, except returning back to our hotel room 😊 It turned out, walking around 10 kilometers a day for four days was not a problem for our 6-years old daughter. It’s true that she didn’t climb every single lookout tower, but while we adored the view, she was playing in the everywhere present sand with her younger sister. They both started the travel diary, where they stick the” visit card”, can mark how they felt and how they liked the trip. I think this is one of the souvenirs that’s worth it and will stay with us for a while and might be a perfect reminder of our little journeys.
We always find our accommodation through booking, as it’s the most reliable source in terms of availability. This time we stayed at the Prachov Penzion, which is only 300 meters from the main parking. It’s a room for 3 with one king-size bed and one single bed, which was more than enough for us. There’re two rooms and a bathroom. In addition, we could use the common rooms: fully equipped kitchen and dining room or saloon. The free parking was included in the price as well. We stayed 3 nights.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
From my own experience I can recommend autumn: late September, October and early November- as long as it stays colourful and warm enough to spend few hours outside. There’re not so many people comparing to summer. Late spring sounds good, also because there’s no crowd. The worst on the other hand is summer when a huge number of hikers come to visit Prachov rocks.
WANT TO SEE MORE OF BOHEMIAN PARADISE?
Hruba Skala castle the main landmark of the Bohemian Paradise. The castle rises on a group of rock towers, located six kilometers southeast of the town of Turnov. The castle colloquially called Skaliska, is reaching a height of sixty meters and can be found above the valley of the river Libuňka. At the beginning of the XIV century, Hynek of Valdštejn founded Skály Castle, which later became known as Hrubá Skála in order to differentiate it from nearby Malá Skála nad Jizerou. The rock castle was built so that it could use natural conditions for defense and the place was chosen very well to defend itself sufficiently at that time. It also provided a great view of the northern part of Ještěd to Kozákov and further into the countryside.
Hruba Skala Rock Town Lonely rocks, deep gorges, chimneys, overhanging rocks, and countless unusual formations with apt names. Another spellbinding place in Bohemian Paradise. Plenty of hiking and cycling routes to follow, routes with a bonus as we refer to the lookout points, the possibility to spend the whole day out in nature, all that in Hruboskalsko, and all that for free.
Valdstejn Castle – an early Gothic castle from the 13th century, originally the seat of the family. An exceptionally valuable stone bridge with baroque sculptures leads to the main gate to the castle. While the chapel of St. John of Nepomuk invites with its mystery.
Jicin – Jicin is called by the locals a fairytale city, and that’s because of the famous Rumcajs – a fairytale character. It’s also a gate to Bohemian Paradise, as many hikers start here
Trosky – a very characteristic and recognizable ruins of a Gothic castle from the 14th century. The castle, which was once built on two unusual basalt volcanoes. The two towers: Baba a Panna are visible even from a long distance. The ruins are so popular, it became the most often visited castle in Bohemian Paradise. In addition, during the summer season, there’re special shows organized to attract even more onlookers.