My today’s trip story is about South Bohemia mountains called Novohradské Hory in Czech and Freiwald ("Free Forest") in German. This area is a perfect destination for the lovers of Nordic walking, cycling and classic walking as it offers many beautiful, diverse and well marked trails. Last weekend we went there for a walk with three of my sons and am happy to share with you the photos and stories from this wonderful place.
Sungate Monument with Meditation Bell at Hojná Voda
We've started our walk at this unusual bell monument called Sungate located at a small village on the Northern slope of Kraví (“Cow’s”) mountain.
The village's current Czech name, Hojná Voda, is akin to its old German name, Heilbrunn, and originally means "Healing Water". This tiny mountain village currently having only a few dozens of dwellers is about 500 years old. Not so long ago, in 1938, it was counting more than 600 inhabitants, mostly of German origin. After the end of World War II the German population was evicted from the borderland by the Communist government and many of their houses were demolished. After that and until the Czech Velvet Revolution of 1989 this area was strictly guarded and forbidden for tourists because it’s where the Iron Curtain ran.
The bell you see on the photo is called Meditation Bell. It was cast in 2012 by a renowned Bavarian bell master Rudolf Perner in the memory of reconciliation between Czech and German peoples.
On the path to Kraví Mountain
To get to the top of Kraví Mountain which is 953 meters above sea level we’ve took an old hunters pathway built in 16th century. Some of its stones are marked with enigmatic crosses with numbers and no one could tell their meaning.
A view to the north from Kraví Mountain
On the top of the Kraví mountain there's a lookout tower with astonishing views. It was built after the Velvet Revolution in place of a Soviet era military tower guarding the border.
A view to the west from Kraví Mountain
On a rock
There are many bizarre rock formations around. Local folks believe each of these mountains has one special rock as a guardian spirit. The Kravi mountain is guarded by this unusual rock resembling a wizard's head which is called Napoleon by the locals.
In a spruce forest
After visiting Kraví mountain we took a forest road to climb the other nearby mountain called Kuní (“Marten’s”) which is 925 meters high.
A view from the top of Kuní Mountain
Kuní Mountain isn't frequented by tourists, so we were totally alone all the way. It has a steep rocky top all covered with trees. This mountain’s interesting feature is panholes (small round basins in stone), they say there are six of them on the top rocks but we’ve managed to find only one.
The top rocks are quite steep here
After having returned from Kuní, we’ve took another forest road and soon got to Dobra Voda ("Good Water"), another mountain village and a once famous pilgrimage site with a beautiful baroque church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary built in 18th century. The water from the spring the church is built on is said to heal eyesight.
The church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Dobrá Voda
Also, local researchers say the site is located on a so called ley line, an invisible line supposedly connecting ancient landmarks. The idea behind lay lines belongs to the archaeologist Alfred Watkins and although it sounds like a pseudoscience, I think it has some grounds when applied to mountain sites because smoke signal, a many thousands years old “telegraph”, used bonfires located on high places. Dobrá Voda can be seen from almost anywhere and as the area was inhabited since Stone Age by many tribes including Celtic Boii, such a use of this site was quite possible. But I will keep Celtic stories for my next photo trips. Stay in the air! :)
The photos were taken by me with a Canon EOS 400D camera.
Previous photo trip: Theresia's Valley in South Bohemia