It’s no secret that Prague’s surroundings are rich in natural and cultural sights waiting to be discovered. In today’s article, we will guide you through the places you should definitely not miss on your journey. And if you stick with us to the end, we’ll also offer you a tip on where to go for culture events before the end of summer.
Due to its accessibility from Prague on the Posázavský Pacifik line, Posázaví is the first choice when choosing an excursion location. The beautiful countryside around the Sázava Canyon offers stunning scenery for wandering through the forest or walking along nature trails. The main one, the Posázaví Trail, can be found in the Lower Posázaví region leading from Pikovice to Kamenný Přívoz. Everything you need to know about it can be found in our previous article. Today, however, we would like to introduce you to the man-made monuments.
Gold mining in Posázaví
We will stay in the Lower Posázaví for a while. Nearby Jílové u Prahy is an important place where gold mining played a key role in shaping the current appearance of the area. Gold was mined here as early as the Celtic period. The peak of mining in the gold-bearing district of Jílové came in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the precious metal was even used to create the St. Wenceslas Crown. Mining, although on a smaller scale, continued until 1968. You can learn more about its history at the Regional Museum in Jílové u Prahy. From there you can also follow the Jílovské zlaté doly nature trail leading to the St. Joseph’s Adit and the St. Anthony of Padua Adit. Both have been opened to the public. They are interwoven with narrow passages and the visit is not suitable for claustrophobics. If you do not feel like walking to the adits, it is also possible to park in Dolní Studený, 500 m away.
Railway viaduct Žampach
Down the hill from the adits is another technical monument worth mentioning. It is the Žampach railway viaduct, the second highest stone railway bridge in Central Europe, which reaches 42 metres high. If you are lucky, you will see the Posázavský Pacific train crossing it. For a better view, turn left after the St. Anthony’s adit at the signpost onto the parallel yellow trail. This is a short detour leading along the stone foot of the hill to Žampach.
Military Technical Museum in Lešany
Further downstream on the Sázava river, fans of technology and history will appreciate a visit to the Military Technical Museum in Lešany. Its exposition consists of more than 700 exhibits, including tanks, cannons, motorcycles, armoured military vehicles, rocketry and logistics equipment from 1890 to the present day. The size and composition of the collection makes it one of the most important European institutions of its kind. Entrance to the building is free of charge. In addition, various events are held throughout the year, during which the exhibits are shown to visitors in motion. The biggest event is the Tank Days, always held on the last Saturday of the holiday season. The museum season starts in June and ends in September.
Týnec nad Sázavou Castle
If you prefer to visit castles and chateaus, Posázaví may be the right place for you. For example, Týnec nad Sázavou Castle, located in the town of the same name, attracts visitors to its museum of Týnec porcelain, but also to other short-term exhibitions. The outdoor spaces of the castle serve as a venue for theatre performances and cultural festivals.
One of the oldest castles in the Czech Republic – Český Šternberk – is waiting for you in the Central Posázaví region. In addition to the classic sightseeing tour, you can climb up the forward defensive tower or take part in a guided tour around the castle. Continuing upstream, you will come across Zruč nad Sázavou Castle, which was originally built in the 14th century as a castle, but burned down 4 centuries later and was rebuilt into a romantic-style chateau. It is mainly visited for its exhibitions, the most popular of which is the World of Bricks and Dolls, showing with the history of toys and children’s games. In the children’s corner, the youngest visitors can try out some of the exhibits for themselves. In addition, you can visit the Canoeist Museum, climb the Kolowrat Tower or walk the nature trail in the castle park.
Konopiště and Jemniště
From the chateaux you can visit the chateaux of Konopiště and Jemniště. In both of them you can get acquainted with their animal inhabitants, the Konopiště Chateau is home to Jiří the bear, while Jemniště is home to kangaroos, the northern raccoon and the tame llama. Konopiště, originally a Gothic castle from the 13th century, became famous mainly as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, whose assassination in Sarajevo resulted in the start of World War I. Jemniště Castle is a favourite place for wedding guests due to its beautiful rose gardens of the English park.
Treasures of the Central Bohemian Region
Beautiful places to discover can be found in many other parts of Central Bohemia. Surely you’ve already heard of Karlstejn, but how about heading even further west?
It got its name from its allegedly crooked foundations. Its most interesting feature, however, is the then very important prison with a torture chamber and a hunger chamber. In their premises today there is an exhibition of torture instruments. There are also many legends connected with the castle, which you can learn more about in the local library. Křivoklát serves, among other things, as a venue for many cultural events, such as jousting, concerts and Christmas markets.
Especially on hot summer days, you will appreciate cooling down in the Koněprus Caves. Visitors can admire the stalactite decorations formed over 400 million years in two floors accessible to public. The cave is also significant for its 1.5 million-year-old discovery of animal skeletal remains. During the reign of Jiří z Poděbrad in the 15th century, the cave system served as a workshop for money forgers. They used copper plate and silver amalgam to create counterfeits of the coins of the time. It is still unknown who was behind the production of the forgeries. Around 5,000 were produced, enough to feed one man for two years. You can see an example of the workshop on the top floor of the cave.
The Točník Castle
The Točník Castle and the ruins of Žebrák Castle can be found near Beroun. Together they form the best preserved castle complex in Bohemia. Žebrák was the first castle built by Wenceslas IV. However, after its fire in 1395, the king had it rebuilt and founded Točník Castle at the higher foot of the hill. Today, only the tower serving as a lookout tower and a few walls remain. There is a free guided tour of Točník. Below the castle, you can visit the bear house with bears Agata and Martin, as well as enclosures with domestic animals.
We will stay at the topic of domestic animals for a while. Near Mělník, there is the Zelčín Contact Zoopark, which invites both young and old visitors to enter fenced enclosures where you can move freely among goats, sheep, llamas and ponies, who are happy to be petted and fed. In addition, together with a guide, you can also enter the enclosure of kangaroos or mini pigs. In the season, the zoo offers air trampolines, scooter and raft hire. You will certainly not be bored here!
Central Bohemian Cultural Summer
Go to a concert, theatre or opera performance. The Central Bohemian Tourist Board plans over 45 cultural events every year during the summer in unusual places throughout the region. The rich programme lasts until 23 September, so you can still catch many interesting events. One of the participants is the aforementioned Regional Museum in Jílové u Prahy, which organizes concerts in the premises of its park, as well as theatre performances in its indoor premises. Definitely don’t forget to check their calendar of events.
We hope that wherever your travels take you, you will enjoy your journey through Central Bohemia to the fullest!