Brdy are hills in the Czech Republic, forming a long massif stretching for cca.60 km from Prague in the direction of southwest. The northern section of the Brdy is called "Hřebeny" and features one narrow ridge (highest elevation Písek - 690 m.). The Brdy proper starts south of the Litavka river gorge and consists of several major elevations connected into one plateau. The highest being "Tok" (864 m.), "Praha" (862 m.) or "Třemšín" (827 m.).
Most of the Brdy is covered by forest which make it one of the largest contiguously forested areas in the interior of the Czech republic. However, major sections of the massif have been declared closed military area and are largely banned to public.
The military area of Brdy has been a source of controversy for several decades.
The closed military area was declared shortly after emergence of Czechoslovakia to cater for needs of growing Czechoslovak armed forces in 1925. It has been expanded and well used by Third Reich military forces during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia during 1939-1945. It has been further used for intensive military exercises in post war era with some additional expansion in the southern sector.
Military use of the Brdy mountains gradually decreased after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 driven by military cost cutting and eventual professionalization in 2005. However, the closed military status of the central part persists.
Brdy mountains were in the focus of American negotiators attempting to settle a deal with Czech government to install a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missile defense radar system in this military area. The plans for missile defense had been reshaped in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration and Brdy had lost most of its strategic importance.
The Brdy mountains haven't seen any substantial developmenent for long decades since 1925. This lack of man-made changes kept the local flora & fauna undisturbed and flourishing. The national forestry company (České lesy) has been in charge of maintaining large parts of the mountains. It still holds in the central parts, while northern rig have seen restitution to the legal ownership.
There are several major roads running across the mountains, some of them exclusive to vehicles with valid military and forestry permits only.
There are few buildings remaining in these mountains, usually in lateral areas or highest points. Apart from several hunting lodges, used by prominent visitors-hunters and forestry workers, there are nine complexes of interest:
- A Cold War military bunker has been turned into an Atomic Weapons Museum.
- 194m tall broadcasting and transmitting tower Cukrak at the hill Cukrak (in proximity of Czech capital Prague)
- Skalka - baroque complex of chapel of Mary-Magdalene & monastery at the cliff above the town Mnisek pod Brdy
- Abandoned surface-to-air missile base "Klondajk" with three long range SAM launchers stretching at plateau over several square kilometers near town Dobris
- Geodetic tower at Studeny Vrch (638 m a.s.l.) near Hostomice pod Brdy, formerly used for military exercise, which is currently in ownership of Czech Tourist Club
- Radar complex of Czech air traffic control center at the hill Pisek 683 m a.s.l. near Jince
- Meteorological radar of CHMI at Praha mountain (862 m a.s.l.) scanning precipitation and rainfall over Bohemia and a part of European NEXRAD network
- Prototype of concrete bunker (type ) built in 1930's at one of the shooting grounds to test weapon efficiency and bunker design, which eventually acted in the Czech film The Elementary School
- Monument to significant local forester and administrator Gangloff near Tremsin pod Brdy.
Plans and potential
Several studies have been made on the future of Brdy mountains, with particular focus to keep its preserved natural status. This has been contradicted by the government plans to create a new US military installation with high security code in the military area. As of late 2008, press reports indicated that the radar site would be about two kilometres northeast of Mišov, approximately at government supporting the project and the local residents and the peace activist opposing it. Public opinion was divided and majority of Czechs were against it. This history is well recorded in a Czech "documentary comedy" Czech Peace (2010). In December 2014, Czech parliament passed a law terminating the military status of Brdy mountains, which will come into effect in January 2016. There is an ongoing dispute as the new legislation includes some new changes, namely border changes between Central Bohemian and Pilsen region, with Pilsen region being granted a significant portion of a currently Central Bohemian region territory.. A fierce public debate followed, with largely the media and the
- Daniela Lazarov (22 August 2013). "A top-secret bunker used by the Soviet army opens to the public". Radio Praha. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
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