Located Northwest of Prague, Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) is also within Bohemia (obviously) and happens to be the oldest protected nature reserve in the Czech Republic

Located Northwest of Prague, Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) is also within Bohemia (obviously) and happens to be the oldest protected nature reserve in the Czech Republic. Stretching out about 70 square miles, the landscape is composed of limestone rock formations, picturesque fields, shady forests, and medieval castles.Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

The first time I heard “Bohemian” and “Czech Republic” paired together, I was slightly confused. Was I going to live in a country filled with hippy clothes and unconventional lifestyles? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Alas, no.

Bohemia is actually the name of the historical Western region of the Czech Republic:

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

It encompasses Prague, as well as all the surrounding cities and villages.

Located Northwest of Prague, Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) is also within Bohemia (obviously) and happens to be the oldest protected nature reserve in the Czech Republic. Stretching out about 70 square miles, the landscape is composed of limestone rock formations, picturesque fields, shady forests, and medieval castles.

Fortunately, CIEE recently organized a hike and guided tour through Bohemian Paradise for their Study Abroad students. As there were still spots open for the trip, CIEE extended the invitation to the Teach Abroad participants! My friend, Bethany, and I decided to join in. The hike would begin at the outskirts of the city of Turnov. From there, we would hike about 13 kilometers to the small town of Hrubá Skála.

We left Prague in a minivan on Saturday morning. The ride itself only took about 1.5 hours. After distributing water, snacks, and sandwiches (CIEE does not skimp out on the amount of food they provide), we departed from Turnov and began an immediate upward climb. At the top of hill was the Valdštejn Castle.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

Complete with a mini “Charles Bridge,” Valdštejn is considered the oldest castle in the Bohemian Paradise (construction began around 1260).

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

As the castle is perched on a hillside, you can see far into the surrounding fields and forests. You could also just make out the two towers of the Trosky Castle (the end goal of our hike). Yup, we had a long way to go.

After pretending to be the queens of the castle, we cut through a forest to reach our next viewpoint. Along the way, we went on a “scavenger hunt” to find old rock carvings:

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

Back in the day, apparently a lot of people were bored with living in the wilderness. To pass time, these “Children of the Forest” would go to make carvings in the limestone rocks.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

And to think that I can’t even make a basic person out of soft clay…

We then continued to the next viewpoint. This was probably my favorite part of the hike- the limestone rock formations.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

After seeing so many formations in Thailand, I have developed a soft spot for viewing these huge jutting rocks.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

At this point, it was lunch time and we stopped for some soup at a rest stop (perfect, because it was a slightly chilly day).

We then switched up the landscape and began hiking through fields and a forest with a lot of naked trunks.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

This part of the hike was very easy-going as it was mostly flat. Plus, the chilly weather worked in our favor and we essentially had the trail to ourselves.

Eventually though, the trail sloped uphill again and I was huffing and puffing by the time we reached Kopic farm. Here, we walked through a small village and enjoyed the company of a bunch sheep and goats that followed us (looking for food).

And finally, we were in Hrubá Skála and at Trosky Castle!

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

This castle consisted of two towers: The lower tower is known as “Baba” (the old woman) and the taller is referred to as “Panna” (the young virgin).

Story has it, the castle was once ruled by the Lord of Berg. This Lord had to leave on a mission and left his mother (Baba) and his daughter (Panna) in charge. However, the two were constantly arguing about how to rule and scheming against each other.

Bohemian Paradise - AMZ Newspaper

Each eventually took a castle tower to reside in. Meanwhile, the castle itself fell into ruins and its people deserted. The castle towers are named after the bickering women.

After, we went back to the base of the hill (on putty legs, mind you) and went to the nearest restaurant for drinks. From there, our van picked us up to go back to Prague.

While I did not spot any people sporting the Boho lifestyle on our trip, Bohemian Paradise proved to be tranquil region to explore. With its nature and history, it’s worth at least a day trip from Prague.