Cesky Krumlov

Seeing Cesky Krumlov is going to be undeniably one of the true highlights of your Vienna to Prague or Salzburg to Prague cycling trip. The town is rich in Renaissance and Baroque buildings and together with the castle is after Prague castle the second largest historical complex in the Czech Republic. On account of its numerous structures of historical significance Cesky Krumlov was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. In winter months Ceský Krumlov is a peaceful town of some 15,000 inhabitants but during late spring, summer and early fall tourists easily outnumber the locals. It is definitely worth spending a day if not two and just browse around the picturesque setting of the town’s historical core surrounded by meandering Vltava River.

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Rozmberk via Vyssi Brod and Rozmilal na Sumave to Cesky Krumlov

Fine detour can be done from Rozmberk to Vyssi Brod and Lipno Dam. While you can easily visit Vyssi Brod as a side trip from Rozmberk en route to Cesky Krumlov, in Vyssi Brod you can connect to the Sumava Trail, Sumavska Magistrala in Czech, an extremely scenic border trail between Czech Republic and Austria that follows the ridge of the Sumava mountains National Park from Domazlice via Zelezna Ruda and Vyssi Brod to Horni Dvoriste into northern Austria, and then descents toward the Danube River at Linz, a route that is part of the Salzburg to Prague bicycle trip.

Should you wish to continue from Cesky Brod west along the Sumava Trail, it will take you along the right bank of Vltava past Lipno Dam and reservoir, through to Nova Pec and Pekna to Volary. A spectacular detour can be added to Stozec where you’ll find a beautiful wooden chapel and fantastic views over strictly protected nature reserve of Mrtvý Luh (Dead Mead), a forest of pine and birch and a peat-bog.

Out of Rozmberk you cycle south along the secondary highway 160 that soon becomes 163. The road follows Vltava River, always on your right, all the way to Vyssi Brod. During summer the river is a popular destination for kayakers and rafters who launch just below Lipno Dam, short distance beyond Vyssi Brod.

In Vyssi Brod, a pleasant small town on Vltava, is found a fine Gothic monastery founded in the late 13th century by the Rosenbergs. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the monastery houses a splendid Baroque library containing over 70,000 books and manuscripts.

While the shortest route from Rozmberk to Cesky Krumlov is along Vltava River, a nice ride with the river always in sight on your right, you can opt for another, more satisfying route, in a way a high road, cycling up into the hills east of Vltava, following the Rozmberk Heritage Trail, with adding a detour via Rozmital na Sumave. The route to Rozmital navigates up to elevations of over 600 meters above sea level with nice views of the hills of southern Bohemia, eventually bringing you back down to the river Vltava that flows peacefully toward Cesky Krumlov.

From the river camp you start climbing slightly back up to the hamlet and church of Zaton. The small settlement and church are said to be one of the oldest in southern Bohemia. Originally in place of the late 15th century Gothic church there stood a Romanesque chapel constructed in the 11th century. Behind the church is a small cemetery with a few well kept graves of the pre-WWII Germans that populated the area. Beyond Zaton the trail meanders past weekend cottages above Vltava and along undulating landscape eventually starts to descend toward Cesky Krumlov, the panorama of the entire town soon coming to view.

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Pohorska Ves via Malonty, Rychnov nad Malsi, Svaty Kamen and Dolni Dvoriste to Rozmberk nad Vltavou

This portion of the route cycling through Novohradske Mountains can be summarized in short as from depressing to impressive. It’s not the landscape, the scenery is wonderful, with pristine nature, forests and lush greenery around, vistas to lift your spirit, but I refer to the manmade.

Pohorska Ves is a village where time seems to have come to a halt forty years ago. As you enter it you feel being in a time warp straight out of Cold War era. Decrepit multi-family prefab housing built at the height of post Bay of Pigs standoff, with paint still peeling, lining the main drag. Even the machinery, from tractors to plows, passing through still seem to belong to some kind of agricultural cooperative, men in blue overall and rubber boots still strolling down the street, only the red stars, hammers and sickles are missing.

Once you leave Pohorska Ves, the local townscape gets little more upbeat in Malonty and Rychnov nad Malsi, where a handful of residents spruced up a bit their homes though you still feel as if you are traveling in the 1980s at best. Rychnov could be a nice village, has a 14-century gothic church, but everywhere you look major funds are needed to renovate, to make the place look more uplifting, and that will take years.

Dolni Dvoriste gets more Austrian tourists and has an aura of more money and it shows in a number of hotels and B&Bs. Although the colorless gloom of bygone era still permeates the ambiance on the fringes, and the only occasional semblance of prosperity comes from “brothels” (and a casino!) that cater to truckers passing on the E55 (yes, prostitution is one of those business ventures that took a solid root very early on after Velvet Revolution all over the borderlands of Czech Republic), Dolni Dvorsite is not the place to stop unless perhaps you are driving.

But the highlight to this point is Svaty Kamen, a short way off the main route and well worth the detour. In the 90s renovated pilgrimage Church of Our Lady of the Snows and nice views of southern landscapes from here make for a nice lunch and cold glass of cold beer at local “Hostinec”. If you should continue further south from Svaty Kamen, you will reach the Czech-Austrian border. The route makes for a fine bicycle day trip through northern Austria.

Undeniably the best is the destination for the day, Rozmberk on Vltava River. Situated right at a sharp left turn of Vltava and dominated by an impressive Rozmberk Castle, it makes for a wonderful overnight stay. The castle was originally built in gothic style of 13th and 14th century, but renovated over the centuries it possesses elements of 16th and 17th century renaissance and baroque as well as neo-classical features of 19th century.

Rozmberk has number of nice small inns that sprung up after 1990, with owners renovating scores of fine historical buildings. The inns get lots of traffic from Austria, especially from those living in Linz and near the Czech border, as the overnight rates and sumptuous dining at half the price what it would be in Austria lure them for short getaways, especially on weekends.

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Border route through Nove Hrady Mountains via Horni Stropnice, Dobra Voda, Cerne Udoli to Pohorska Ves

This route follows a trail thorough Novohradske Mountains, a border region that during the 40 years of communism in Czechoslovakia was off-limits to visitors. After World War II, when local German population was expatriated and after communists took power in 1948 and the remaining local population was forced to relocate further into the interior of South Bohemia, only the border troops had access until democracy in 1990. Cycling through this region one comes across abandoned barracks, remnants of Iron Curtain installations and arriving in Pohorska Ves feels like stepping back into Cold War village scene from 1950s. It was here that the families of the border troops were put up in cheap prefab housing that in its horrid desolate appeal sheds a slice of the depressing bygone era.

But this glimpse of Cold War past is hardly what makes this region wonderful to cycle through. Novohradske Mountains first of all offer deep and pristine forests, including an impressive protected area of Žofín Primeval Forest, and numerous trails to enjoy them.

Horni Stropnice is the first small town past Nove Hrady. It has an interesting church which was reconstructed in late 14thcentury in Gothic style upon its Romanesque origins from earth 13th century. The small town has a supermarket, good restaurant and a couple good B&Bs and is thus a convenient place to break your journey especially if caught in bad weather.

Beyond Horni Stropnice the road start climbing to village of Dobra Voda and from a far one notices a mountain ridge dominated by a large church. This is the Baroque church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. The structure is truly impressive in its size, constructed in the early part of 18th century, but the interior of lavishly decorated altar and well preserved baroque carvings and frescos that were renovated after the Velvet Revolution promise to leave a lasting impression in anyone’s memory.

The Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary has been indeed a well-known pilgrimage site for centuries on account of its healing water, a spring that flows steadily and comes out of a water fountain constructed below the entrance of the church right at the foot of a striking stairway.

The church enjoys steady flow of pilgrims not only from Czech Republic but also from neighboring Austria and Germany. It’s from the healing radioactive properties of the water that the village around the church got its name, as Dobra Voda means literally Good Water. The views from the church into the surrounding countryside are truly stunning and continue as one rides further uphill to Hojna Voda, a peaceful summer hideaway.

Past Hojna Voda the road leads through open meadows with isolated farmhouses of Stare Hute, a small hamlet with a late 18th century glass kiln, in operation until early 20th century, where was produced once world-famous black and red glass known as hyalite. The dazzling hyalite products were in fact exported all over the world and known to had been even exhibited at the international exhibitions of Paris and Chicago at the end of 19th century . Under the dynasty of the Buquoys a number of glass works thrived in the area, otherwise the local population was employed in logging and agriculture.

Not far past Stare Hute the trail enters deep forest and continues to Cerne Udoli, meaning Black Valley, a small village and a junction where one can turn to visit the primeval forest sanctuary of Zofin or continue on to Pohorska Ves for the night.

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Jindrichuv Hradec to Nove Hrady – Cycling Greenway of Rozmberk Heritage

From Jindrichuv Hradec you can continue on Vienna-Prague Greenway via Pluhův Žďár and châteaux Červená Lhota to Tabor, or you can take a wonderful detour via Southern Bohemia on Rozmberk Heritage Greenway and connect to Salzburg – Prague Greenway.

To cycle via the Rozmberk Heritage Greenway you pass through Trebon Region, locally called Třeboňsko, an area of countless fish ponds, largest of which are Svet and Rozumberk ponds, with deep-rooted tradition of freshwater fish farming dating back to middle ages. This is also a region of scenic forests and meadows, in a way, Bohemia’s Lake District.

Trebon town was a medieval stronghold with fortification walls and moat is still largely intact. Among worthwhile sites to visit while in Trebon is the tomb of the Schwarzenberk family and the Trebon renaissance châteaux.

You may decide not to cycle north to Jindrichuv Hradec once in Nova Bystrice and take a shorter route to Nove Hrady skirting the northernmost point of Austria. The route offers a possibility to overnight at a well-known Hotel Perslak with fine panorama of surrounding countryside. From here the bike trail continues skirting the border passing through deep woods on its way to Chlum u Třeboně, a small town with a nice baroque pilgrimage church and a châteaux.

The ultimate destination for the day is town of Nove Hrady, a gateway to the mountainous border of Southern Bohemia of the same name. The town has a prominent gothic castle, encircled by an impressive moat. It was built in late 1200 to protect one of the trade routes that connected Austria with Prague. Burnt to the ground in 15th century, even destroyed by earthquake two centuries later, it was conquered by Karel Bonaventura Buquoy, Holy Roman Emperor Matthias’ general sent to quell the rebellion of the Bohemian aristocracy in 1618, war that became known as the Thirty Years’ War and which eventually installed the 300-year rule of the Habsburgs on the Czech lands. The Nove Hrady castle remained in the hands of the Buquoy’s descendants until 1945. Today it is well-maintained and in the ownership of the state.

Nove Hrady also has a striking renaissance town hall and a late gothic Church of St. Peter and Paul that was rebuilt in later part of 1600 and furnished with a remarkable baroque altar. On the outskirts of town is a wonderful nature reserve of Terčino Údolí, Theresa’s Valley. Cycling though the reserve is a scenic alternative to the main road and the trail takes you to a renovated medieval fortress of Cuknštejn on the way out of town toward Horni Stropnice.

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Cycling Southern Bohemia or Trail of Traditional Arts and Crafts to Telc

From Jindrichuv Hradec one can continue on to Tabor and Prague on the Vienna – Prague Greenway, or detour and add a very rewarding few days cycling through Southern Bohemia. The following maps show from Jindrichuv Hradec the trail goes to Trebon and from there to the very bottom of Bohemia where it connects to the Prague – Salzburg route.

Another optional side trip off the main Vienna – Prague Greenway is to cycle from Jindrichuv Hradec east and northeast on the Trail of Traditional Arts and Crafts to Kremesnik. One can follow its loop through Novy Rychnov, Batelov, Rostejn, Horni Dubenky to Zahradky and from there return to Jindrichuv Hradec. Or from Rostejn one can cycle south to Telc, and explore the Renaissance architectural treasures of this UNESCO heritage town. From Telc the trail connects to the Trail of the Jewish Artist Frantisek Nagl via Kostelni Vydari and Dacice back to Slavonice on the main Vienna – Prague Greenway.

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Through Czech Canada to Historic Town and Castle of Jindrichuv Hradec

The entire region around Nova Bystrice and much of the way to Jindrichuv Hradec is hilly and densely wooded highland. Due to its fine topography and pristine nature, with trails lined in bushes of raspberries, forests rich in mushrooms and blueberries, with all the comforts and amenities in Nova Bystrice and Jindrichuv Hradec, and well connected with Prague, in recent years the highlands have become one of the hot spots for Czech cyclists and hikers. Known for colder winters than the rest of Southern Bohemia, the region has received a befitting name, Czech Canada.

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