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CZ: Novohradske Mountains –Nove Hrady Castle, Tereza Valley, Wild Nature

Published: 28.4.2016
It was fortunate for the nature around the Novohradske Mountains that people had little chance to change it in the last centure. This remote mountain range raises up to 1000 meters and German-speaking settlers lived there. However, after the WWII they were displaced. Moreover, the borderline regions became inaccessible. Once we omit the cruel thing of displacing former inhabitants, then nature benefited. Deep forests, clean air, nature untouched by the men. And still, after 25 years not many tourists have discovered this area, unlike Sumava.

The place from where all tourist trails start is Nove Hrady town. Nice, little town was founded at the walls of the medieval castle. Its paved square is the place where bikers buy some ice cream, admire Renaissance façade of the town hall. On its walls the Buquoy family coat of arms is painted. Between the years 1618 and 1945 the Novohradske dominion belong to the family. There is no nature sight or man-made sight which wouldn’t be somehow related to the family. So let’s explore together the area. The most popular among tourists is the castle, undoubtedly. Built on a cliff it provided a significant view down to Ceske Budejovice. The access to the castle follows a stone bridge over huge, 14-meters deep moat. The castle is managed by Narodni Pamatkovy Ustav agency. You can walk it through by taking one of the two guided tours which tell you about the history of the castle, its last owners, or the life of noblemen’s bureaucrats. These people had lived at the castle from the beginning of the 19h century, once the nobility moved to the new, more comfortable chateau. Moreover, be sure to get up the castle tower. Up from the attic there is beautiful view over the landscape.

Nové Hrady

You can learn a lot about castle’s 800 years long history. Just to mention an interesting event from here. In 1573, (then the dominion belonged to the Rozemberks), gun powder storage exploded after a flash hit a defense tower. Fragments of the tower were scattered around the adjacentarea. The same happened to the castle palace. Destruction of these two structures was finished in 1590. Then the area was hit by earthquake. However, reconstruction followed and it rebuilt the castle and made it look as we can see it today.

Nové Hrady castle moat

Near the castle gate, there is the baroque blacksmith’s workshop . Children and grown-ups can visit an interesting exhibition displaying the then tools which function. There is even a chamber of a 19th century blacksmith. The former Buquoy mansion is that monumental building on the eastern end of the square. A hotel and a restaurant operate there today. Next to St Peter and Paul’s church there is the vast building of Divine Mercy monastery. Its interiors and ambits are accessible in the summer for a guided tour. Another important landmark is the Buquoy tomb, an exceptionally renovated tomb on the local cemetery. It is not normally accessible. However, at KIC in main square you can arrange a guided tour.

the Buquoy mansion in square

Moreover, there is Novohradsky chateau . However, you can see it only from outside. Jan Nepomuk Buquoy commenced its construction in the mid-18th century. This Empire style buildings has three wings. The Czech Academy of Sciences is its owner today. Thus, the public cannot enter it. What is open, though, is the adjacent park. Huge old trees grow around there. It gives the place a strong feeling of genius loci

Nové Hrady from the castle tower

Nature of the Novohradske Mountains is where the last line of houses ends. Only few let the view don’t go to the national nature sight along the Stropnice River. It is Tereza valley which has truly romantic atmosphere. Countess Terezia Buquoy took care of the landscape. She began with this venture in 1756. Soon, many Romanticist buildings were constructed around. Some, unfortunately, are ruins today. However, an artificial waterfall still operates. A 500-years old oak is impressive. It has circumference of 750 centimeters. At the mouth of Tereza Valley there is Cuknstejn - a 15-century stronghold which is in near perfect condition. However, it is privately owned, therefore, it is opened to the public only occasionally.

 waterfall in Tereza Valley

The deeper into the mountains you get the wilder the nature gets. Some localities are covered with primeval forests. Yet these are not open to the public. Zofinsky primeval forest is even fenced off to keep wild animals out. Forests are mixed. Mostly oaks grow here. Also some hundred years old fires can be found around here .

the Buqoy tomb  the observation tower atop Kravi Hora on the way up Kravi Mountain

The observation tower on Kravi Mountain (953 m) allows you to see the entire mountains A baroque church, Dobra Voda is a place which lures pilgrims and travelers in. The spring is beautifully constructed Every visitor can see it in front of the entrance to the church. In the peak era of pilgrimage in the Baroque period, up to 60 thousand pilgrims travelled there every year. There is also evidence that the members of the noble Buquoy family took part in pilgrimages as well. Here and in Hojna Voda, 2 kilometers further away, the civilization ends. It is great to travel on bikes in the Novohradske Hory as long kilometers of asphalted roads are scarce on cars. Therefore, safe for children. Just you have to think that there is significant elevation. In case summer heat is unbearable, go to the swimming pool in Horni Stropnice. Svěží a čistá voda, upravené travnaté pláže a považte – nevybírá se vstupné!

Virgin Mary’s Good Counsel church, Dobra Voda  frescoes in the church, Dobra Voda

GPS: 48°47'21.4"N 14°46'28.2"E


Text: Radka Snížková

Photos: Radka Snížková, Miluše Svátková

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