Czech Republic is very well connected to its neighbours, both geographically and culturally. Due to its position between Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia, most major cities of Central Europe like Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw or Budapest are literally just around the corner. Culturally these countries overlap and mingle, especially concerning the language roots, certain aspects of cuisine and a portion of the habits and customs.
The fact that Czech Republic has always been in the centre of significant events in European history doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer from its own history. As the home of ten million Czechs (just above the population of New York City), it has many hidden surprises awaiting anyone curious enough to look for them. You can find some facts and figures, but let’s look beyond that…
Czech people take great pride in their history, which is reflected in the name of our currency – the Czech Crown (Koruna Česká). It is a reminder of a former glory, of the times when Czech kings ruled over half of Europe. Those times may be gone, but the country still remembers. Even today, you can easily find over two thousand castles, mansions, manors, donjons, keeps and strongholds scattered throughout the land. On almost every peak and hill, hidden in the green and damp depths of conifer and broadleaf forests, these crumbled memories of the past remain.
A treasure for sightseers
The historic structures and ruins mentioned above are a true treasure for any nature lover willing to spend their weekend hiking, which is considered to be one of the many unofficial Czech national sports. By the way, the Czech Tourist Club dates back to the year 1888 and it provides probably the best-maintained system of trail-markings in Europe. The other sports include vacating all the major cities as soon as work gets out on Friday afternoon and laying siege to the woods for mushroom hunting, invading the countryside for biking, storming the rivers for kayaking, and basically any other outdoorsy sport activity that you can imagine.
Debris from bygone days
Some of the monuments that have not crumbled into romantic debris are so beautiful that the world takes notices. Twelve of them are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and surprisingly, only one of those is situated in Prague. Apart from these “official” marvels, there are many other locations just as charming that will allow you to experience the nostalgia of ages past. Just visit Máchovo jezero (Lake Macha) north of Prague, or the beautiful dam of Orlík with the chateau of the same name, and see for yourself.
Of mountains and wine cellars
Czech Republic is bordered by mountain ranges on three sides. The ever-changing and variable topography is one of the reasons (apart from prices, cuisine and temperament) that Bohemia is so frequently visited by the Dutch. These mountains are relatively low in altitude (the highest peak of our country, Sněžka, is just 1603 meters above sea level), but still ready to provide a challenge for mountain climbers and other enthusiasts who fancy a bit of thin air. Southern Moravia, one of the three regions that form the Czech Republic, is here for those who prefer to sit down with a nice glass of wine and a satisfying snack and just relax. All the aforementioned can be found in cosy wine cellars that provide shade and cover even in the most intense summer heat.
Perfect starting point
For anyone who wants to travel and see the countryside, Prague is a perfect starting point because it sits in the centre of everything. From there the country unveils itself, easily reachable by a vast network of trains and buses that can take you virtually anywhere if you have a car.
Don’t be afraid to explore
Because of its huge historical reservoir Czech Republic is also very fond of its fairy tales. Not only because of all the ghosts, spirits and wild things that still roam around in the haunted ruins at midnight, but because upon stepping into towns like Český Krumlov, Kutná Hora, Tábor or Kroměříž, you feel like you have crossed a magical boundary into the fairy tale world. And you should not be afraid to do so, since Czech Republic is, according to the Global Peace Index, the sixth safest country in the world.
Traditions, arts and other charms
All of these charms and wonders are just waiting for you to discover them, along with all the traditions and crafts that make every separate region stand out. Learn about the subtle art of puppet making and the famous Czech crystal glass, visit the fishing ponds of the south, ease your physical burdens in various thermal baths of the west, or gaze upon the beautiful romantic vistas of the northern mountain range. Plus all of it is quite cheap. Are you still hesitant to come?