Postcards from
North East Bohemia


Lhota. Having spent some time in Prague we rented a car and decided to explore parts of North East Bohemia. As it was a hot day we decided to go via Lhota; The lake was a former gravel pit and set in pine forests the margins were surrounded by gentle sloping sandy beaches. Just right for an outside temperature of 36 degrees!


We had a lovely time swimming here but we needed to get on and after a few hours we drove to our hotel in Sychrov.


Sychrov. Our comfortable aand modern hotel was right next door to the Chateau of Sychrov. In 1820 the castle was bought by the Rohan family, French aristocrats exiled by the French Revolution. The castle boasts a collection of around 250 portraits of the Rohans, related families, and French kings. It is the largest collection of French portrait paintings in Central Europe. Originally a small fort and then a baroque castle the building was considerably enlarged by successive members of the Rohan family until it became the romantic neogothic building that we see today. Surrounded by a large parkland laid out in the English style th chateau and it's grounds were well worth a visit
Český  ráj. Pronounced "chesky rye" and known as the Czech Paradise Český  ráj is an area of outrstanding beauty 90 kms north east of Prague. A dense network of hiking and cycling trails crisscross the thick forests to be found here and connect a long series of high, rocky outcrops and ridges, many of which are crowned with medieval cliff top castles that peer across the treetops to the distant plains.
Hrad Valdštejn. From Hrubá Skála we walked along the ridge trackway until we came to Hrad Valdštejn It is situated on three rock pinnacles and is considered to be the oldest castle of the Bohemian Paradise dating from 1260 to 1280.. The castle enters the stone bridge, decorated with Baroque statues of Czech patrons. 
Hrubá Skála. The castle is  situated on a steep sandstone cliff and dates from 1353 and was built by the Valdstejn family. It was devasted by both Saxon and Imperial troops during the thirty years war and rebuilt again in 1859 in a neo-gothic style. It now serves as a hotel. You can see the ruined hilltop castle of Trosky in the far distance
Trosky. We only had time to see this from afar. This ruined castle was built at the end of the 14th century on two steep basalt rocks and made Trosky virtually impregnable.. 
Jičín has a well-preserved historical center, built around a rectangular square with a regular Gothic street layout, remnants of fortifications and arcade Renaissance and Baroque houses. The biggest expansion of the town started in 1621 during the Thirty Years' War, when the town became a property of Albrecht von Wallenstein, who made it the center of his Duchy of Friedland and minted his own coins there.;He had the palace (locally known as Zámek, i.e. château) and the Church of St. James rebuilt completely in the North-Italian style and connected them via a roofed footbridge.

Kuks. On the slope of the River Elbe in Kuks, there used to be mineral springs. Starting in 1692 and finishing in 1722 , Count Franz Anton von Sporck had buillt a large Spa establishment comprising an octagonal Church of Holy Trinity, a hospital,theatre and other buildings in the Baroque style. The interiors and exteriors were all decorated with Baroque sculptures. Count Sporck died in 1738 and his heirs were not interested in maintaining the spa. A flood in 1740 destroyed most of the infrastructure and put the spa out of business.. The Hospital, Church, and Pharmacy buildings have been preserved, along with historic furnishings, and are considered masterpieces of the Baroque.

The whole site was most impressive and even managed to listen to a recital of medieval instruments in the church.. We finished our tour by spending some time in the beautiful herb gardens and then began the long walk back to the car.

Nachod. Nachod is a beautiful town close to the Polish border. We were staying at the Hotel U Beranka and I have put a picture on the right first of the castle because that was the view from our bedroom window and Stephany would keep on getting up and opening the window to take photographs as the light changed through the day.
Owners of the castle included kings John the Blind and George of Poděbrady. Over time the castle grew into a large fortress. Powerful and rich Smiřický family acquired the domain in 1544, and had the castle rebuilt into a comfortable Renaissance château. Following the thirty years war the castle came into the hands of an Italian family and the castle was remodelled in the Baroque style. In the castle there are various exhibits dating from the time of the thirty years war including two great money chests that used to belong to the Swedish army sacking the area.
Nové Město nad Metují . The town burnt down in 1526 and most of the houses in the square were then built according to a unified plan in 1526-1548 reflecting a Renaissance style.
We finished the tour of the town by visiting the castle.
Babiččino údolí. Or grandmother's valley was the inspiration for Božena Němcová's classic Babička (The Grandmother) written in 1855. We walked down the valley to the house featured in the book and memories of her mother reading it to her as a girl flooded back into Stephany's recollections. We then continued up the valley to take a picture of the stream passing the house and on the return we took a picture of the sculpture depicting the characters in the book.
Litomyšl  The dominant feature of Litomyšl is the monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568–1581. The brewery of the castle became the birth place of Bedřich Smetana in 1824. In the the elongated square below the castle is one of the largest in the Czech Republic and comprises a town hall of Gothic origin and a series of Renaissance and baroque houses, many with arcades and vaulted ground floor rooms. One of the most important of these is the House At the Knights (U Rytířů) with its lovely façade.
It wasn't long before we were both eating. And then onto some serious tourist activities with a visit to the castle.