Czech Paradise Nature Reserve Cesky raj
The Czech Paradise Nature Reserve (Cesky raj) in Eastern Bohemia is a natural area characterized by unique rock formations, old castles, and historic buildings. It was declared a UNESCO Geopark in 2005. Sandstone hills and natural bridges, as well as basalt columns and outcroppings are some of the natural wonders of the Czech Paradise Nature Reserve. Hiking trails allow visitors to explore the park on foot. A drive through the Cesky raj will reveal a number of ancient castles and chateaus dating back to the 13th Century. The main town servicing the park is Turnov, where the visitor information center for the Czech Paradise Nature Reserve is located.
Jicin, Czech Republic
To the east of the Czech Paradise Nature Reserve (Cesky raj) is the town of Jicin. This is the main administrative tourist center on this side of the park. The town was founded in the 13th and 14th Century but underwent some major rebuilding in the early 17th Century thanks to General Wallenstein (Albrecht of Valdstein). He is largely responsible for the early Baroque style architecture that can be seen in Jicin today. Some of the noteworthy attractions in the town are the 16th Century Valdicka Brama tower, the 1620s Church of St James (kostel sv Jakuba Vetsiho) and Wallenstein's chateau, also built in the 1620s. Inside the chateau is a small museum and gallery.The biggest attractions in the Jicin area are the Prachov Rocks. A path winds through the maze of rock towers that jut up out of the ground. Often referred to as one of the areas rock towns, this area features rock columns, tunnels, cliffs, caves, and natural bridges. The Prachov Rocks were inhabited during Neolithic times.
The ruin of the Trosky Castle (Trosky hrad) is one of the most dramatic sights in the Czech Paradise Nature Park (Cesky raj). Two volcanic (basalt) pillars a few hundred meters apart jut up towards the sky and are capped with the lookout towers of Trosky Castle. The is the sight most associated with the Czech Paradise Nature Park. The lower tower, at height of 47m / 154ft, is called Baba (Grandmother). The higher of the two at 57m (187ft) is called Panna (Maiden), although they are some time also interpreted as the Virgin and the Hag. They were once part of a medieval fortress, built in the late 14th Century, which spanned the ridge between the two towers. There is an observation platform that offers wonderful views over the park and beyond.
Rock City, Hruba Skala, Czech Republic
Within the Czech Paradise Nature Reserve (Cesky raj) is the village of Hruba Skala, best known for the nearby rock formations known as "Rock City". This is one of the most unique geological attractions in the reserve. At Rock City are numerous sandstone cliffs and columns jutting up out of the ground. The area is popular both with tourists and rock climbers, although many can be scrambled up without technical climbing skills. There are hundreds of these rock formations and they have been given a variety of names.In the village is the Chateau of Hruba Skala, built on the site of a medieval castle, this Renaissance manor was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style and now functions as a hotel.
The medieval castle of Kost Hrad sits on a crag near the village Podkost in the Czech Paradise Nature Reserve (Cesky raj). It was built in the 14th Century by Benes of Vartemberk and eventually completed by his son. The most prominent feature of the castle is the six story "White Tower", which is not white. The western wing was reconstructed in the early 16th Century. Later in the 16th Century the outer buildings and fortifications were erected. Kost Hrad contains a Gothic art collection and displays 17th to 19th Century weapons. The castle is well preserved and worth visiting.