|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Experience A World Apart
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe with Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Austria to the south and Slovakia in the east, which together with the Czech Republic constituted Czechoslovakia until 1992. The Czech Republic is one of the few countries in the world whose borders can be seen from satellite photographs.
The country is beautiful with many areas still virtually untouched and still living in another century. The Czechs love their nature because of its all year round variety with seasonal changes creating unique environment for all kinds of activities.
Mountain ranges surround the country on almost all sides with the lower Czech-Moravian highlands encircling the Bohemian basin with the highest mountain range, the Krkonose, creating a natural border with Poland. It is here that the highest mountain in the Czech Republic can be found, the Snezka, meaning snow, and it truly lives up to its name as it is snow-covered for more than half the year and is one of the most sought after regions for winter sports.
Some of Europe's largest rivers like the Elbe have their origins in the Czech Republic and the spas of West Bohemia have for centuries attracted visitors from all over Europe. 20,000 ponds and lakes, and more than 40 water reservoirs, offer many opportunities for fishing, and with one-third of the country full of lovely forests and meadows plenty of opportunity for hiking, walking, biking and horse riding.
Thanks to the suitable geological conditions there are plenty of mineral springs that have been used for curative purposes for more than 200 years. There are a number of preserved historical structures, most of them open to the public, and many town centres are well-preserved and have been renovated, such as the historical centre of Prague, Ceski Krumlov, Teli and Kutna Hora, which have been included in the list of world cultural and natural heritage of UNESCO.
The region of Bohemia is famous for the most beautiful crystal and was named by the Romans (Bohemium), derived from the name of the Celtic tribe that settled in what is now the modern Czech Republic. Spas have a long tradition in the Czech Republic. The largest and oldest Spas lay in West Bohemia in a so-called triangle, connecting Karlovy Vary, Marianski Lozni and Frantikovy Lozni.
Central Bohemia offers peaceful countryside, caves and attractive mountains. Prague, the capital and the heart of Bohemia honours the reputation of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, The Mother of Cities. Come and see historical monuments, hundreds of years old, and enjoy cultural experiences here.
Prague Castle, the largest castle in the world, was founded more than one thousand years ago and when strolling around Prague, you will thus come across rare and exquisite historical monuments. The old centre of Prague is recorded in the UNESCO List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites. Walk across Charles Bridge and touch the statue of John of Nepomuk, good fortune will then not leave you when strolling around the historical centre.
The Gothic St.Vitus Cathedral will amaze you with its grandeur, the astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall will remind you of the pulse of this capital city, and the Jewish Town bides the mysterious history of Jews in Prague stretching back many centuries.
The modern Petriin lookout tower, a loose copy of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, will allow you to view Prague from a height of 378 m above sea level. Prague also has many art exhibitions, and cycles of classical and popular music. It is also possible to visit the largest dance club in Central Europe, and lastly Prague is an important centre for business tourism with high quality infrastructure, accommodation and catering.
Central Bohemia has many historical and cultural centres, settlements and monuments. All of these gems can be reached quickly from Prague. The most impressive monument in Central Bohemia is without a doubt Karlstejn Castle which can be reached in only half and hour from Prague. Karlstejn was founded in 1348 and is the most remarkable Czech castle and one of the symbols of the Czech Kingdom.
Those who want to take a rest from the bustle of the cities and tourist centres can visit the Kokonsko Protected Landscape Area with its romantic scenery full of gorges and rocks, among which other monuments are hidden. Central Bohemia also offers an extensive karst area with underground complexes of caves.
"Czech Siberia" is the nickname for an area of hilly countryside a few km south of Prague where it is as cold as it would be located 200 mt higher because of its frequency of temperature inversion in winter.
Horse racing, fertile earth and old handicrafts you will come across all of this in East Bohemia. History has left its mark on the region in the many folk buildings, castles and chateaux. This region has folklore, traditional crafts and monuments from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Baroque and Art Nouveau, right through to modern architecture.
East Bohemia is a true centre for horses and horse lovers. Horses are a great attraction for the Czechs and foreign tourists The Velk Pardubick Steeplechase has been held in Pardubice for more than a hundred years, the oldest European and the second most difficult steeplechase in the world, with a circuit of around seven kilometres. You can also admire the horses in the important stud farm in Kladruby and in other locations around the region.
Letohrad is home to the largest museum of traditional handicrafts in the Czech republic. The Bouda Artillery Fort was established on the pattern of the Maginot Line and here you can view five military buildings which are inter-connected by several underground corridors and hall. Also do not forget to purchase some Pardubice gingerbread - delicious, and stop off and visit one of the charming castles and chateaux.
The beautiful, natural scenery of the Hradec Kralove region is superb for cycling or walking. A charming region and one of historical relevance. Nature-lovers will enjoy the Orlice Mountains. The nature reserve of the mountains offers lovers of winter sports ideal conditions for downhill and cross-country skiing. The beautiful massif of the Adrspach-Teplice rocks has become popular among European film makers as a dramatic backdrop for their films.
In Josefov there is a military fortress more than two hundred years old and it is possible to visit an exceptional combination of underground corridors in this masterpiece of European fortress construction. This region is home to several chateaux, monuments and folklore, and traditional crafts are made here.
The Krkonove Mountains and Podkrkono region in the summer is perfect for cyclists and keen hikers, whilst in the winter it is perfect for winter sports fans and has a renowned ski centre. This is an unforgettable landscape with small bluish lakes in the middle of the mountains, mysterious marshlands and deep forests, sunny meadows and stunning views from the peaks of the highest mountains in the Czech Republic.
The mountainous region of Ceski Lipa and Jizera Mountains is famous for Czech glass which has been popular around the world as far back as the Middle Ages. Come and have a look how glass is made and purchase some of the unique, and beautiful glassware on sale. The region also offers the opportunity for sports and relaxation, summer and winter, and there are castes and chateaux, glass works, and well-preserved folk architecture.
The varied region of Northwest Bohemia has remarkable landscape and is especially made up of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park where there are nature trails and cycle paths that lead you through irresistibly beautiful countryside. The Pravice Gate is the largest natural stone gateway in Central Europe, and the natural gorges in the area around Hensko are also popular.
The area has the greatest number of healing mineral springs in the world. The city of Cheb, which is one of the oldest in Bohemia, offers visitors a monument preservation zone with historical buildings and folk architecture. Famous porcelain is also manufactured in this region.
You will find the most beautiful golfing locations in Europe, have a rest from water sports, fishing and swimming. Cycling or walking trips are popular here in summer. Exquisite scenery can be found in the Protected Landscape Area of Slavkovsky les, which is interspersed with several nature trails for tourists.
The source of the best beer in the world awaits you in the Plzen and Ceske les region, peaceful countryside of mountain ranges and also folk traditions and historical monuments. Take a real glass of Pilsner in the city of Pilsen, it will taste even better here! The region offers many charming historical buildings such as Baroque chateaux spread out over woody region with numerous bodies of water. In addition there is hiking, cycling or horse riding. Touch history at the Chodsko border area via folk traditions and monuments.
Allow yourself to be captivated by the rugged, untouched scenery of Sumava National Park. Sumava is an excellent place for hiking in the summer as well as for winter sports. One hundred and twenty kilometres of forests in the mountains, the most valuable part of which is not allowed to be touched by human hand, stretching out along the border of the Czech Republic and Germany. A natural landscape filled with glacial lakes, remains of ancient virgin forests and extensive marshland await you.
Sumava is a superb location for hiking in the summer. The elaborate network of well-marked tourist trails will lead you to the most untouched of scenery and provide you with views over the majestic outline of the mountain ridges. Among other things, Sumava can also offer you the possibility of visiting valuable historical monuments, above all folk chalets and the remnants of former sentry castles.
The magnificent town of Kutna Hora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is dominated by the castle. The prismatic Great Tower with the Chapel of the Holy Rood dominates the castle. The vaults are decorated by semi-precious stones,and above the altar there is a niche closed by golden bars, where the crown jewels and relics were placed. Other beautiful towns to visit are Olomouc and Krome, also Cheb, one of the most ancient towns in West Bohemia.
The picturesque region off South Bohemia will welcome you with scenery filled with countless fishponds, pine forests and extensive marshland, also charming towns and villages bearing testament to a rich and colourful history. The picturesque town of Ceske Krumlov's is situated some 180 km south of Prague and lies in a deep, meandering valley of the Vitava River in the very South of Bohemia, near the border with Austria.
The enlightenment and estates of the aristocratic families have left their mark on the unprecedented beauty of the cultural and historical wealth. Numerous chateaux and castles set into slight undulating countryside will not fail to delight you. Ceske Krumlov has seven hundred years of history and has more than 300 historical buildings.
Hola-ovice village dates from the 13th century and is considered a true pearl of the rustic Baroque style. Its 22 farmhouses, with painted Baroque gables in the front and gardens in the rear, are situated around a central pond. The village is a living monument to the rustic traditions, such as those we know from the Bartered Bride, perhaps the most famous Czech opera. The village served as a set for the film version.
Tel was founded in the 13th century and has a chateau, park and the square which is a unique complex of Renaissance and Baroque houses.
One of the most attractive places is Bohemian Paradise, part of which has become a UNESCO Geopark. Easily accessible from Prague it has been a tourist destination for almost two centuries and it has always attracted attention because of its dramatic appearance, provided particularly by its sandstone rock formations jutting out of its forests. Its wonderful scenery is made of medieval castles and ancient legends, all this will dazzle you with its mysterious romanticism. The local valleys and rivers are unforgettable, and it would be difficult to find more romantic little towns.
Zatec in northwest Bohemia, is renowned for the Saaz hops grown locally and used by breweries the world over to make the famed amber nectar, including Budweiser Budvar and Pilsner Urquell. Whist you are in the area visit the The Temple of Hops and Beer Museum, the oldest exhibition of its kind in the world.
Vysocina is a slightly harsh yet enchanting region, which is ideal for weekend trips thanks to its varied offer of tourist activities and it is easily accessible from Prague. The undulating countryside is filled with forests and meadows, fishponds and villages. Visit the town of Chot bo where you can taste the beer in the new brewery and also visit the early Baroque chateau with its spacious English-style park which is home to the city museum. Famous for its potato dishes you simply must try at least one of them when you are in the area.
The contrasts of the activities of man and nature make North Moravia and Silesia a distinct mixture of impressions and experiences. Allow the region to work its magic on you and animate your senses. The Jesenkiy and Beskydy Mountains provide you with a magnificent view over the countryside. In winter the mountainous area offers many routes for downhill and cross-country skiing.
There are numerous natural parks and protected landscapes where you will find rare plants and beautiful forests. At folklore celebrations the local people wear traditional, colourful costumes. Castles, chateaux, caves and karst formations, the region is home to them all.
East Moravia the best things on offer include the Spas, folk culture and monuments, as well as maybe a barge holiday. The Wallachian Mountains and the Hana Flatlands, Slovacko or the Zlin region all of these are landscapes of folk costumes, songs and celebrations, which you will be invited to by their hospitable and friendly inhabitants.
Visit the chateau in Kromski which is on the UNESCO list, the Wallachian Museum in Rosnov pod Radhotm for folk traditions such as buildings and open-air museum and ancient customs and crafts. The Skaln peak is popular location for free climbers, offering beautiful views over the countryside. Rent a barge on the Bat canal, a man-made canal sixty km in length and spend a relaxing holiday. Plenty of opportunities for golf, tennis, horse riding and Spa Luhaovice provides exclusive services in the field of wellness and relaxation breaks.
Southeast Moravia lies in the southeast part of the Czech Republic on the border of Austria and Slovenia and is a place with a particular and unique culture, especially the ethnographic region of Moravian Slovakia. In the centre is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno, famed for the Austerlitz Battle, the hist
The character of the local songs is totally unique and anyone who has ever experienced a cimbalom music performance must have fallen in love with the local region through the music. The warm climate, fertile lowlands, rivers and hard-working people, it is the king of wine making and folk traditions.
Spreading out to the north is Moravian Karst where there are many caves to be found. The Punka Caves offer a boat trip through the middle of the karst kingdom and Maccocha Abyss which is shrouded in legend.
The last tourist region of Znojemsko and Podyj also abounds in natural wealth Podyj National Park allows visitors to get to know its beauties on foot or by bike. The city of Znojmo will delight history lovers the Romanesque St. Catherine's Rotunda or the Znojmo Underground. Vranov Dam attracts visitors in the summer, and the chateau in Vranov nad Dyj and Botov Castle are to be found nearby.
As with every country one visits it is so important to sample the local cuisine. In the Czech Republic you will find a great variety of traditional dishes which are still extremely popular and tend to be high in calories. The most popular meats are chicken and pork followed by beef, usually served with some kind of sauce. Traditional roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut, the fruit filled dumplings or the apple strudel are simply dishes to die for.
The main course usually consists of soup such as potato, try the dill made from sour milk or beef soup with liver dumplings, served with meat and a side dish. Fish is not common, although trout or cod are sometimes served. Salmon and seafood are served in better restaurants and mackerel is a popular.
If you visit Vysoncina try the Shepherd's pie made with Czech blue cheese, chicken and oyster mushrooms, also their national speciality potato pancakes just delicious. If you visit during Shrovetide duck with ginger and white cabbage with a selection of bread dumplings will not disappoint you.
There is still much more to see and do in the beautiful country of the Czech Republic. This we hope has just given you a taste of what this gorgeous country has to offer. Come and see for yourself, maybe stay awhile, you will not be disappointed.