The Křivoklát Castle is an attractive tourist destination; it was founded at the beginning of the 12th century by Prince Vladislav, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Prague - Malá Strana, Vltava River, and Charles Bridge, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Prague towards the northwest, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.The beauty of the countryside, known as Bohemian Paradise, has enchanted many artists, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Český Šternberk Castle, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Koněprusy Caves, the largest cave system in Bohemia, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.Mělník Chateau and tower of the Church of St. Peter and Paul as seen from the historic locks in Hořín, photo by: Archiv Vydavatelství MCU s.r.o.
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Central Bohemia - the Podbrdy and Central Vltava Areas

This region’s relatively inhospitable climatic conditions make it one of the less populated areas of Bohemia – it’s even often referred to as “Czech Siberia”. This has also resulted, however, in much of its natural beauties remaining preserved. The Vltava River flows through the hills of the Central Bohemia and used to be the area's main transportation route. This role has gradually been removed by the construction of reservoirs and dams, built from the middle 1930’s to the beginning of the 1960’s. This reservoir system (Vrané, Štěchovice, Slapy, Kamýk, and Orlík) has fundamentally changed the river itself and the areas surrounding it.

The deep valleys and wild romantic streams have disappeared below the surface, and the thousand-year tradition of rafting navigation is also now extinct. Nowadays, the Vltava River is used mostly for summer recreation. Despite such an introduction, it should be noted that this region was never completely devoid of people. The prehistoric Celtic oppida in Hrazany nearby Slapy Reservoir, the third largest oppidum in Bohemia (covering 39 hectares), connected this area with western and southern Bohemia. The ruins of Kamýk Castle, founded in the 13th century, illustrate the great interest among the Czech rulers in this important link with the south. The lesser nobility also built their residences here as well – these include the castles Valdek (founded in 1263, today in ruins) and Vysoký Chlumec (founded in 1235).

Dobříš chateau

The chateau complex in Dobříš stands out for its size and quality: this is the stylistically purest and most monumental Late Rococo building in Bohemia. It was built in 1745- 1765 for the Mansfeld family by architect N. Servandoni based on designs by the French architect Jules-Robert de Cotte. Even though the chateau was modified many times in the 19th and 20th centuries, it has still retained its charm as a Rococo residence. The chateau’s decorations are the work of the great artists I. F. Platzer and J. Molitor. The atmosphere of old times is evoked by its French-style chateau garden.

Religious monuments are represented richly in this area. In Mníšek pod Brdy there is a castle, now reconstructed in Baroque style, which holds an altar painting by Karel Škréta (1610-1674). The local Church of St. Václav bears an altar painting of St. Mary Magdalene by the painter Petr Brandl (1668-1735). The ensemble of high monuments of the Czech Baroque here is complimented by the cemetery chapel of St. Mary Magdalene on the Rock by Christoph Dientzenhofer (1655-1722).

Similarly, in Březnice, where one of the founders of Early Baroque architecture Carlo Lurago (1615-1684) was active, the Jesuit College from 1640 remained preserved as did the Church of St. Francis and Ignatius (1650), as well as the cemetery Church of St. Roch (1649) with the original furnishings of its core still preserved. The local Gothic castle was reconstructed in the first part of the 17th century, but part of its Renaissance furnishings (including the Lokšanská library from 1558) escaped destruction. The local Jewish community and their cemetery, however, were not so lucky. The ravages of the Nazis did spare the buildings of the Jewish “Lokšanská” quarter, however, so now there is a nearly undisturbed Jewish ghetto here from 1570. In the 19th century, Březnice served as inspiration for the “Mountain Village” of literary figure Božena Němcová, and the nearby spa in Dobrá Voda was a renowned resort for Czech patriots.

The beauty of the local landscape has attracted and inspired many artists. The teacher and composer Jan Jakub Ryba (1765-1815) worked in Rožmítal pod Třemšín from 1788 to 1815, best known as the author of the most popular Czech Christmas mass entitled “Hej mistře”. The western edge of the village Vysoká u Příbrami holds the Neo-Renaissance chateau that was home to composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) for a while. The chateau has presently been converted into a museum reminiscent of both A. Dvořák and Count V. R. Kounice, the composer’s brother-in-law. The adjacent park holds two ponds which allegedly served as inspiration for the opera “Rusalka”. Poet Josef Václav Sládek (1845-1912) lived in the garden cottage in the park from 1897 to 1898, and writer Karel Čapek (1890-1938) spent the last years of his life (1935-1938) in the villa (former administrative building for the ironworks) at the Strž pond nearby Dobříš.

Příbram was also the place where the first Czech archbishop and renowned theologian Arnošt of Pardubice (1297-1364) lived, having received it from Charles IV in 1348. Above the town looms the most famous place of pilgrimage in Bohemia – the Baroque grounds of Svatá Hora. Its present appearance is the work of architect Carlo Lurago, while its decoration is from the participation of many important Baroque artists of the time, including P. Brandl and J. Brokoff. The pilgrimage grounds also include a monastery, once the residence of the Jesuits.

Nový Knín

Nový Knín is a former royal gold mining town on the Kocába River and surrounding hills. Today it holds 1850 inhabitants and includes the former settlements of Starý Knín, Sudovice, Kozí Hory, Chramiště, Libčice and Nový Knín. The town's history reaches far back and was mostly linked with gold mining directly in and around the town. In the 12th century Knín was a royal homestead for the Přemyslids; it was so important that in 1186 it was the site of peace negotiations between the Czech Prince Bedřich and the Moravian Margrave Konrád Ota. The meeting concluded with a treaty known as the "Knín Peace" that re-established the unification of Moravia and Bohemia as an integral whole. King Přemysl Otakar I dwelt here in 1218 and 1219, as did John of Luxembourg in 1341.

GPS: 49°47'17.649"N, 14°17'34.831"E

Silver and uranium mining in the Příbram area

Scientific progress in the 20th century brought the rich deposits of uranium beneath the ground around Příbram to the surface. The extraction of this strategic raw material in the 1950’s, however, likely brought more suffering than good. People who were deemed inconvenient to the communist regime were forcibly deployed to the uranium mines and to its subsequent processing operations; see the War Memorial. The mining history of Příbram, however, is much older. Silver was mined here from the beginning of the 13th to the end of the 19th century. In 1875, miners in the nearby Březové Mountains were the first in the world to reach a depth of 1000 meters.

GPS: 49°40'58.952"N, 13°59'13.901"E

Březové Hory Outdoor Mining Museum

An exhibition located in the historical operation and administrative buildings illustrate the rich history of the mountain as associated with the mining of silver, uranium, and other ores. The museum includes a ride on a mining train above the surface and underground, a tour through several kilometers of tunnels, a descent down an elevator, a ride down a slide to a giant water wheel, an encounter with a unique steam mining machine, and an extensive mineralogical collection with miners’ folklore

Museum of the Victims of Communism - War Memorial

An authentically preserved prison complex, unique in its kind in Central Europe. This was originally a P.O.W. camp for German prisoners of war, situated between the former uranium shafts; it served from 1949 to 1951 as a forced labour camp, then as a prison for political opponents of the communist regime until 1961. The exhibition illustrates the persecution after 1948, the anti-communist resistance, and the history of uranium mining.

We are Dobříš

The Brdské Lesy forests surrounding the town attract hikers, walkers, bicyclists, and even cross-country skiers in the winter. The Rococo chateau, with its magnificent French gardens, is one of the town's most renowned architectural monuments. Dobříš holds a number of interesting events every year, such as the St. Václav Celebrations and Wedding Flower Day at the chateau, while the Mayday celebrations and the Dobříš regional markets are also a favourite There are three new educational trails acquainting visitors with the town and surrounding nature, and an interactive educational garden in the centre of town offers a place for relaxation and enlightenment alike.

GPS: 49°46'53.984"N, 14°10'19.290"E

From Brdy to the Vltavě

South of Prague, there is a popular hiking area that covers the Dobříš, Nový Knín, and Central Vltava river basin areas. The area around Slapy is also notable and especially popular in the summertime, as are the "tramping" settlements along the Vltava and Kocába Rivers. There is a Museum of Hot Air Balloons and a Museum of the history of the Central Vltava River in Chotilsko, and a nearby Špýchar Museum in Prostřední Lhota. If you're thirsty for adventure, visit the TEPfaktor and Rope Park in Slapy. You can end up your trip through the region with a visit to the Karel Čapek Monument and a stroll along the local educational trail.