The word paradise often conjures images of a luscious beach, blue-green waves, and hammocks stretched between palm trees. However, the Czechs might offer a different opinion on the subject.
Czechia is a landlocked country that has a moderate Central European climate and remnants of a communist past that is all too recent. Despite these impediments to the classical paradise, the Czech forests surrounding Turnov offer a specifically Czech version of utopia.
Bohemian Paradise, or Český ráj in Czech, is a protected area in the north of the country, covered in majestic forests, hilltop castles and volcanic pillars. Only a day-trip away from the capital, Prague, it has become a popular tourist destination.
Among the sites in the area, the Hrubá Skála rock town, is the most famous. Just seven kilometers from Turnov, the rock town is punctuated with volcanic sandstone pillars shooting through the tree line. The bright white of the pillars strikingly contrasts the deep greens of the surrounding woodland. The jewel of Hrubá Skála is the chateau of the same name, situated magnificently on one of the rocks. Although Hrubá Skála is the most notable of rock outcroppings in Bohemian Paradise, the rest of the protected area is dotted with similar volcanic pillars and a hike around the area is a breathtaking endeavor. There are many lookouts in the area, but finding the ones with the best views on your own may be time-consuming. Taking a tour with a local guide might be an interesting option.
Along with the stunning forest landscape cut by the Bohemian Jizera River, Trosky Castle in the heart of Bohemian Paradise cannot be missed. Trosky Castle is comprised of two 14th-century ruins well over one hundred feet above the ground. The two ruins rise prominently from atop a hill and volcanic plugs, sending them high into the sky above the flatlands around the area.
Originally built by a Czech nobleman, the castle has survived multiple wars and attacks and miraculously can still be visited by tourists. While roaming the landscape around the castle, visitors should also inspect the caves near the base of the castle’s hills. The castle lies only fifteen kilometers from Turnov and should be included in any itinerary through Český ráj.Another great place in the region are the extremely picturesque sandstone pinnacles of the Prachov Rocks (Prachovské skály). They are situated close to the quaint small town of Jičín. Visiting them requires paying a small entrance fee, but if landscapes and nature are your thing, then you would not want to miss them.
Know Before You Go
All locations are easily accessible from Turnov or Jičín, Czechia.