Bohemian Paradise (Czech: Český ráj) is a Protected Area. It was declared in 1955 as the first nature reserve in the Czech Republic. At first it was 95 square kilometres in area; today it is almost 182. This area is in the north of Bohemia and north-eastward from the capital city Prague. Borders of this district are not given, but there are some towns which could demarcate rough borders, for example, Turnov, Jičín and Mnichovo Hradiště.
This piece of land is popular thanks to a beautiful and varied countryside. There are a lot of places which should be seen. People can go for a walk and admire many natural beauties; they can drive to many castles, chateaus, ruins, museums, and other sights.
One of the most recognizable elements of the Bohemian Paradise is the sandstone rock which many of the surrounding towns are constructed of. There are many rocks which have been shaped by wind, water, frost, erosion, and humans into unique and curious shapes. People can visit, for instance, Hrubé, Suché, Prachovské, and Klokočské rocks. In these rock towns, there are a lot of vantage points. Most of them are available for normal tourists, but some can be surmounted only by rock climbers.
Kozákov is the highest hill in the area. There are a tourist chalet and a lookout tower. From there, one can see gorgeous scenery with skydivers in the air. Kozákov was originally a volcano. Thus, it is a place where precious stones are found. The treatment of these gems has been connected with the history of the city of Turnov called “The heart of the Bohemian Paradise” for several centuries.
Other places to visit are the Bozkov dolomite caves which are famous thanks to the largest underground lake in the Czech Republic. The Podtrosecké valley is the next. It is situated below the ruin of the Trosky Castle, the symbol of the Bohemian Paradise, and known for a beautiful countryside with several ponds, e.g., Věžák, Nebák, Vidlák. Plakánek valley is often visited, too. It begins near the Kost Castle and ends in the settlement Rašovec. There is a cycle route which is very popular among cyclists and other tourists.
There are two significant castles — Trosky and Kost — but in the Bohemian Paradise there are more, for example, Sychrov Castle, Hrubý Rohozec Castle, Hrubá Skála Castle, and Humprecht Castle. There are many ruins, such as Frýdštejn Castle and Valdštejn Castle and some buildings built in a folk architecture, for instance, Dlaskův and Boučkův Estates. One big advantage of the Bohemian Paradise is that all these sights can be visited in a relative short time because of the short distances between them.
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