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Bohemian Paradise - Geopark protected by UNESCO

Turnov jewelry-garnets workshop, museum of precious stones, Sychrov castle, Trosky castle, Rovensko village.

Order Tour Code: C NN3
Tour availability: Tour available in summer season Tour available in winter season

The Bohemian Paradise is famous for its beautiful, otherworldly landscape. The area encompasses Turnov (jewelry-garnet workshops, museum of precious stones), the Kozakov hill where you can see a private pit and find your own semi precious stone, Trosky Castle with a great view, the Prachovske Rocks, Sychrov castle.

The extraordinary diversity of the landscape with characteristic sandstone rock towns, fauna and flora was the main reason for proclaming the region the first protected area in the then republic (1955). When considering the diversity of the landscape and the occurence of preserved and engangered biological species, deep forests as well as systems of ponds on water streams and surrounding small areas of wet ground with ecological systems are of big importance. The unique diversity of the relief is also made by characteristic volcanic effusions which form the dominants of the area
The Bohemian Paradise truly refl ects the historical development of the Bohemian basin. Travelling around the Bohemian Paradise you shouldn’t miss the symbol of this region, the castle Trosky. Moreover, you should see the castles Kost, Valdstejn or Hrubz Rohozec in the Turnov region, Humprecht in the Sobotka region, or the majestic castles Sychrov and Mnichovo Hradiste.
Albrecht of Vallenstein, a controversial personality of Czech history, played a significant role in the development of the Bohemian Paradise. A warrior, conqueror and looter on the one hand, an extraordinary builder, enlightened ruler and a rich patron on the other. Owing to this man, the baroque scenery of the Jicin region started to develop, with the town of Jicin becoming the architectural pearl of the Bohemian Paradise.
Apart from historic buildings, castles and chateaux, the Bohemian Paradise is also popular for its very specifi c vernacular architecture. The local half-timbered houses contribute greatly the picturesque atmosphere of the country.

It is the unmistakeable dominating point of Bohemian Paradise. It was the fortified castle built on two basaltic rocks in 1390 and the builders used the two to construct castle towers on them. The higher and slenderer tower named The Virgin and the lower and stockier was called The Hag. Dwelling quarters were built on the saddle between them. The castle became run down in the 17th century. Around 1840, an observation terrace was built , which is used by tourists.
The Castle Trosky is a unique construction being located on the most unusual rocky formation, on an extinct volcano, in a beautiful scenery of the Bohemian Paradise. The castle and the Trosky hill lie in the middle of the region formed at the Mesozoic era , i.e. 180 - 70 million years ago as the deposit of the cretaceous sea. After the sea recessed, the whole subbase indurated and various sandstone types were formed, a compact table several hundreds of metres high was created. Subsequently, the table was broken up by volcano activities in the Tertiary era, i.e. 70 to 30 million years ago, into massive and rock blocks, combined over each other in different ways. On some places, the snadstone blocks are penetrated by hot lava up to the surface, which created basalt cones rising high above the entire landscape, this is also the case of Trosky.
But the biggest curiosity of trosky is that a double volcanic rock from one core was formed , about one hundred metres far from each other. A similar, but single cone is in France, near a small city Le Puy.
Trosky played an important role at the time of the settlement of the region by Celts, i.e. 300 to 100 B.C., there was a Celtic sanctuary, or a place of sacrification of Celtic priesthoods-Druids.

The Czech Republic (Bohemia) does not cover an extensive area, but all the more surprising is its wide variety. One of its moste remarkable spots is the Bohemian Paradise. That´s the name given around 1970 by Czech guests in the Sedmihorky spa to the surrounding beautiful landscape formed by the charming nature. Gradually, this name has come to be used for the whole region between the towns of Jicin, Sobotka, mnichovo Hradiste, Kopanina, Zelezny Brod and Lomnice nad Popelkou.
In prehistoric times, the whole region was submerged by a Cretaceous sea. When the sea disappeared, substantial sediments remained, creating an extensive sandstone tableland. Subsequently, this table was divided into smaller parts by the activity of the forces coming from the interior of the earth. The repeated eruption of vlocanic minerals formed what was to become basaltic hills. Pictoresque valleys, fairy-tale shapes of sandstone rocks resembling towns emerged. Thus, the millions of years during which water, wind and other factors exetred their influence created this charming region.
After the first articulation of the Cretaceous tableland, bizarre rock towns were formed by permanent erosion.
The great variety of the nature of the whole Bohemian Paradise is also illustated by the communities of plants and by the animals that have found their home here. The sandstone is overgrown with mixed woods.
Although traces of settlement may alerady be found in prehistoric times, the medieval fortified castles, big or small chateaux and ecclesiastical buildings are the most expressive monuments, all this beeing supplement by ancient works of vernacular architecture and dozens of statues or reliefs sculpted from rocks.
No wonder that this are has attracted different kinds of artists.
Nature has given precious stones to the Bohemian Paradise. In prehistoric times, the Kozakov mountain erupted several times. The first lava eruption produced a melaphyre blanket, whereas the last one poured basalt towards the village Kozakov. In the basalt, semiprecious stones in the form of olive green crystals, called olivenite, may be found, while melaphyre carries jaspers, chalcedonies, amethysts, citrines, crystals, smoke-quartzes and the well-known Kozakov agates. Erosion scattered these coloured stones in the fields in the wide surroundings of Kozakov. The search for precious stones on KOzakov and its neighbourhood has its tradition, beginning in the 14th century. Green and red jaspers were mined above the village of Kozakov in the second half of the 16th century. The remains of two mining galleries are preserved there. Cutters in perhaps all the small villages round Kozakov cut agates sooner or later. Subsequently, a melaphyre quarry was opened near the village of Radostna on the southern slope of the mount KOzakov. Little agate stones of different sizes, comprised in this igneous rock, are still being cut and are favourite souvenirs of visitors to the Bohemian Paradise.

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Turnov town is the heart of the Bohemian Paradise.
The town of Turnov was founded in the mid-13th century on a headland above the Jizera river. In spite of all calamities (foreign troops burnet it down several times), crafts developed quickly here. The first glassworks for the production of "baked glass composites" , i.e. artificial precious stones made of glass, were set up here as early as in the 17th century. In the 16th century, various cutting workshops had already existed, adapting and cutting precious stones either local or imported. Trading in these precious stones flourished especially in the 18th and the 19th centuries, when they were exported worldwide. The tradition of production of jewels continues at Turnov. A local school of applied arts, alerady established in 1884 as the first of its kind in Europe, focuses on the treatment of stone and metals and the making of jewels.

Many visitors go to the Bohemian Paradise Museum, which , since 1866, has been collecting evidence of the natural riches of the Bohemian Paradise. The museum´s unique expositions show precious stones and jewels. The mineralogical varieties of the region and the four-hundred-years long tradition of precious stones cutting and goldsmith art in Turnov create the basis for the expert and research work exceeding the boundaries of the region and the country as well. In 2001 the Museum of the Bohemian Paradise was awarded for its activities the Annual Award of the Turnov town culture, Turnov pecka. In the same year the Museum was nominated by the EMYA European Commission to the “European Museum of the Year” award.

CZECH GARNETS WORKSHOP (booking ahead necessary)
After booking ahead it is possible to see the Czech garnets jewellry workshop - booking ahead necessary.

The village of Dolanky is in the valley of the Jizera upstream, above the Hruby Rohozec castle. Dlask´s Farm, was constructed in 1716 is a two-storey building made of logs and having a built-on gallery giving on to the courtyard. Since its origin, the building has gone through numerous construction alterations, the largest ones were performed in 1794 and 1841. The farm consist of an independent urbanistic unit surrounded with beam rampart with two gates, the upper one, made of masonry and with a small wooden belfry, was constructed in 1794 and the lower one was made of wood. The residential part with adjoining agricultural premises is a one-storey timbered building. The cowsheds and stables, made of stone, were built in the same year as the upper gate.
The original lay-out of the house was extended in 1789 with a timbered room on the first floor which was turned into a “granny flat” in 1842. The richly folded gable and courtyard gallery with cut columns complement the construction unit. The timbered barn is the building that has been preserved from the original buildings in the courtyard. There is also the statue of Virgin Mary from the year 1784 and one-storey timbered granary which was relocated from Malý Rohozec in the 60s of the last century. It is closed in winter.

The Rovensko pod Troskami village has a 1630 wooden belfry with "rebel bells". The clappers of the three bells are turned upwards and put in motion by treading. They were turned upwards as a punishment for a rebellion against the forced reconversion of the inhabitants to catholicism.
The wooden belfry in Rovensko pod Troskami is the town\'s most important tourist attraction. It is situated outside the Church of St. Václav and was built in 1630. It is situated in the site of the original belfry, which was burnt down in a fire in 1619 during the Thirty Years War. The current belfry rests on an eight-sided foundation made of thick wooden logs and boards. The shingle roofing protects three bells unique in that they are clapper up when in the resting position and are propelled by pedals.
They are often referred to as rebel bells because they sounded the signal of the first peasants' uprising against feudal oppression of aristocrats and the church during the era of re-Catholisation in the region.
Rovensko pod Troskami is a village located south-east of Turnov in the direction of Jičín, west of Lomnice nad Popelkou. It lies at the confluence of Veselka and Václavka in the picturesque landscape of Český ráj. The first records of Rovensko date back to 1371. In the reign of Charles IV the tradition of precious stone and Bohemian garnet cutting began.
Several historical monuments have been preserved in the town. For example St. Wenceslas's Church, a wooden bell tower with reversed bells, several statues and a sculptural group and others. The dominant feature of Rovensko and the surrounding region is the ruin of Trosky Castle. Kozákov hill is located nearby. It is is known for the occurrence of semi-precious stones, in particular agates and amethysts.
The Humprecht Chateau was built in the 1666-68 period to an order by Jan Humprecht Černín of Chudenice; the design comes from a famous architect named Carlo Lugaro. The building used to be a hunting lodge. The chateau burnt out soon after it had been completed and was deserted for many years. The exterior is an interesting dominant feature of the region. At present, the interiors of the Humprecht Chateau are used for occasional exhibitions and concerts. In the middle of the building there is a 16 m high lounge. It is decorated with wall paintings inspired by the history of the Černín noble family.
The dining hall of the Humprecht Chateau is known for its special acoustic parameters: singing in this room echoes for 6-8 seconds.
The chateau is truly unique in terms of the architectonic construction. From the tower, accessible through the Mouse passage, there is a fabulous view of the region.

Valdstejn castle
Valdstejn castle is situated at the western edge of the Hruboskalsko rock formation. It was founded in the mid 13th century by the noble family of Markvartice, whose later successor was Albrecht of Vallenstein, the famous military leader. The castle was deserted in the 16th century. In the Baroque period it was a popular pilgrimage destination.
The premises have distinctive Romantic style features as well (19th century). There is an extremely valuable access bridge built of stone, decorated with Baroque sculptures. Another rarity is the Chapel of St John of Nepomuk with a portrait of John the Baptist.
The castle is the venue of regular cultural events, such as concerts, fencing shows, traditional fairs, theatre performances, etc.

One of the most beautiful castle in the Czech Republic.
It is open all over the year.
The history of the area, where the castle is situated, dates back to the 15th century. From this time there are records of a fort, which was the property of the Czech royal chamber. In its place a stone mansion house was built in the 16th century, and in the years 1690 – 1693 a smaller Baroque castle was constructed by the knighted Lamotts family of Frintropp. Members of this French aristocratic family can be classified as belonging to the category of officers who were being rewarded with lands confiscated from Czech aristocracy for their services to the Austrian Emperor during the Thirty Years´ War. In 1740 this estate was bought by František of Valdštejn of Mnichovo Hradiště family line. Since the Valdštejns resided in Mnichovo Hradiště, the castle of Sychrov ceased to be a permanent residence of lords. For almost 80 years no significant changes took place here, and the compound was used for farming purposes and for the accommodation of servants. This situation radically changed on August 30th 1820, when Duke Karel Alain Gabriel Rohan became the new owner of Sychrov and the Svijany estate. That year the 125-year era of the Rohans at Sychrov began, as well as the period of the castle´s greatest fame. The Rohan family originated in Brittany, where the oldest records relating to them can be traced back to as early as the year 951. Over the centuries their position strengthened until they ranked among the ten most influential aristocratic families in France, and as direct cousins of French kings also acquired the title of „Princes of Royal Blood". The family included several lines whose members held significant offices – military, political or clerical. After the French Revolution they left France and settled into the Austrian Monarchy. Contrary to other aristocratic escapees who were returning to France (during the reign of Napoleon I and mainly in the period of reaction – i.e. under Louis XVII and Charles X), the Rohans stayed in Bohemia, in spite of being later invited to return.

The main residence of the family was Sychrov, however, as a small, dilapidated Baroque castle, it did not satisfy the demands placed on the residence of Dukes and Princes. During the period under Duke Karel Alain Gabriel Rohan, a grand redevelopment in the Empire Style was performed (completed in 1834). Nevertheless, the construction development of the castle continued, particularly under Duke Kamil Joseph Idesbald Philip Rohan, during which time the current neo-Gothic look of Sychrov was being established. Due to the reconstruction in the romantic neo-Gothic style between 1847 – 1862, carried out according to the design of Bernard Grueber, a professor of the Art Academy, Sychrov is included among the most significant monuments of historical styles of the 19th century ( as are for example the castles of Hluboká nad Vltavou, Lednice and Hrádek u Nechanic …). All works were solely entrusted to domestic artists and craftsmen. Among these, a significant position was held by Petr Bušek, a woodcarver, who with his creative and artistic talent imparted a great artistic value and unrepeatable ambience to all the castle´s interiors. His work was complemented by the activities of a number of other great artists and craftsmen (sculptors Emanuel Max and Vincenc Smolík, upholsterer Ludvík Grein, joiner Petr König, blacksmith Jan Novák, ...). Duke Kamil Rohan paid specific attention to the Castle Park, designed in the English style, which during his life experienced an unprecedented boom and became a model for the establishment of many now important arboreta such as Průhonice and Konopiště. During this period, a rare harmonising of the castle exterior, interior, and the park was accomplished.

The end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s brought to the castle functional adaptations which not only partially changed the castle exterior ( various decorative neo-Gothic oriels and attics were removed, as was the plaster from the formerly plastered towers, which was replaced by rubble masonry…) but also its interior. In many rooms, Bušek´s lavish carvings (e.g. ceiling panelling in the staircase hall) and French embossed wallpapers made of pigskin were taken down. The neo-Gothic furnishing was being replaced by new, modern items.

After the end of World War II the castle was confiscated pursuant to Decree No. 12/1945 the Collection of Laws and became state property. At first it served as a collection point for confiscated property, and since May 1st 1950 it has been open to the public to a small extent. During the 70s the tour route expanded to the south wing and the corridor of the south annex with the Antonín Dvořák Memorial. Since the beginning of the nineties, an extensive reconstruction and restoration of castle exteriors, interiors, and the park have been under way, the object of which is to make the Castle of Sychrov look as close to its original form at the time of its biggest boom - i.e. its condition in the second half of the 19th century - as possible.

N from Prague
Trip - Bohemian Paradise:
It is an 8 hour round trip

Trip - Sychrov Castle only
It is a 5 hour round trip

Trip - Turnov (museum of precious stones, workshop of garnets)
It is a 5 hour round trip

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Last updated on Feb 27, 2011