The Czech Republic has a lot to offer – be it culture, beautiful châteaus, tasty food and drinks or captivating nature perfect for peaceful strolls. But what about those who appreciate slightly more exciting places such as mountains? If you are one of these people, then don’t worry – you can visit the fascinating Jeseníky Mountains. But you know what? Even if you are not that adventurous, Jeseníky might be perfect for you – instead of hiking you could relax in a spa and enjoy the local springs. There is something for everyone!
Mountains for the Adventurous
Jeseníky mountains are located in Moravia and Silesia at the border with Poland. They are divided into two subregions – the Nízký Jeseník Mountains and the Hrubý Jeseník Mountains. The highest mountain of Hrubý Jeseník is Praděd which is, with the altitude of 1491 meters, also the second-highest mountain in the Czech Republic. It’s not too much, compared to other European mountains, but if you are afraid that you are not physically fit enough to conquer it, there are Nízký Jeseník Mountains. Its highest mountain is Slunečná (which literally means “Sunny”, by the way) and it only has an altitude of 800 meters. On the other hand, you don’t really have to travel all the way to the top of Praděd on foot. You can use a car or a bus that will take you to Ovčárna and from there you’ll continue 3.5 kilometres by foot to the top. There you can see a tall TV tower which also doubles as a lookout tower, hotel and a restaurant – because who would not get hungry after climbing up a mountain, right?
By the way, the area of the Jeseníky Mountains is large so in this particular article I’ll focus on the area around the Praděd Mountain and the Jeseník district.
Spa for Those Who Like to Relax
From Praděd you can pretty easily get to Karlova studánka (Charles’ Spring), which is a lovely spa village. Now, when someone says “village”, most people imagine a practically deserted boring place, no matter the adjective you add. But Karlova studánka is not nearly as boring as it may seem.
The first time the village was ever mentioned in written sources was in 1554, albeit under a different name. It was renamed to “Karlova studánka” in 1803 in honour of Archduke Charles Ludwig, who defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Aspern-Essling. In the 18th century, a local doctor first discovered the beneficial effects of water from the springs near Karlova studánka, which began the spa chapter of the village’s story. Nowadays there are eight springs in total – many of them named after famous people such as prince Maxmilian – a son of Maria Theresa.
In the village there is a swimming pool complex with hydrotherapy and thermotherapy, gym and the Orlík fitness centre, two tennis courts (ice rink in winter). In winter you can also enjoy the 600-meter long ski slope. There are also many beautiful buildings such as, for example, the stately Silesian House or the houses Vlasta and Libuše.
If relaxing in the local spa is too boring for you and climbing up Praděd is not enough of an adventure, then you can visit the Sovinec castle located just 33 kilometres from Karlova studánka.
But if you’d like to visit a different spa, you should definitely go for Lázně Jeseník – it’s a town and a spa resort. There are 12 spa houses in total with the most famous of them being the Priessnitz house named after Vinzenz Priessnitz – the founder of the spa. He was born into a poor family and from the age of twelve, he had to take care of the family farm, his mother, sister and his blind father. How did a poor boy grow up to become a founder of the world-famous spa who treated, for example, the writer Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, you ask? Legend has it that he was inspired by a wounded doe coming to one of the local springs to wash the wound until it was completely healed. Priessnitz himself suffered numerous injuries, which he treated with cold compresses and water. One of these injuries was so serious that the doctor that was called declared them incurable – at best, Priessnitz would be crippled for life. But young Priessnitz didn’t give up and used cold compresses to heal his wounds and chair to straighten his broken ribs. The news of the miraculous recovery then spread throughout the region. He first began treating the animals of neighbours and later the inhabitants of Jeseník and the surrounding area. Over time, the news of his skills spread and he began to treat important citizens of Jeseník (then Frývaldov) and even Vienna. In 1822, he had his native house rebuilt into a brick building (the first in Jeseník) and placed a wooden washtub on the ground floor – thus the first hydrotherapy institute in the world was established.
Zlaté hory and Rejvíz
Another beautiful place in the Jeseníky Mountains is the town of Zlaté hory. It was the hometown of Heinrich Franz Boblig von Edelstadt, a lawyer and inquisitor, who led the witch trials in Northern Moravia (the town of Velké Losiny in particular) in the late 17th century. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that you can find many churches in this town. If you are not religious, then you can also visit the castle ruins of Edelštejn, Leuchtenštejn and Koberštejn, gold ore mills and the Biskupská kopa Hill with its lookout tower.
The most interesting part of the town is, however, Rejvíz with the eponymous national nature reserve. Rejvíz itself has only 65 inhabitants but it doesn’t make this place any less interesting. There are several houses in Rejvíz with preserved folk architecture from the 19th century and so in 2004, it was declared a town monument zone. Fans of nature will probably appreciate the national nature reserve of the same name more, though. It is a peat-bog that was formed about six to seven thousand years ago – at the end of the Ice Age. Its centre is Velké mechové jezírko (The Great Mossy Lake) with Malé mechové jezírko (The Small Mossy Lake) located nearby. Of course, you won’t get to swim in these lakes but both of these places are really beautiful and definitely worth visiting.
Caves and Rocks
Mountains are a pretty cold place but if you are still bothered by the sun, you might find a hideaway in one of the local caves – the Na Špičáku Caves and the Na Pomezí Caves that are both a part of the Jeseníky Karst. It should also be noted that Na Špičáku Caves are the oldest documented caves in Central Europe – the first time they were mentioned was in 1430 by Antonius Walle. These caves often served as shelters as evidenced by numerous inscriptions on the walls (the oldest one is from 1519). The Na Pomezí Caves are no less fascinating – there is the famous heart-shaped stalagmite that people can actually touch. According to a legend, everyone who touches it and makes a wish will see the wish come true.
Besides the caves, you can also visit the Venušiny misky Rocks (Venus’ bowls in English), which indeed look like bowls carved into rocks. Legend has it, they named Venus’ bowls after supernatural beings (Venus’ little people, Venusleute in German), who lived under the rocks and could only be seen after dark. These creatures used rock bowls for bathing, washing or cooking.
Little is it known, that waterfalls, too, can be found in the Czech Republic. While the tallest waterfall in the whole country is located in the Krkonoše Mountains, the second tallest waterfall is located in the Jeseníky mountains. It’s called Vysoký vodopád (the Tall Waterfall) and whoever named it was obviously not very good at naming things. Nowadays, the waterfall is 28 metres tall but in the past, it was even taller – before the massive landslide that occurred in 1880 and greatly cut it in size, Vysoký vodopád was 45 metres tall!
But Vysoký vodopád is not the only waterfall in the Jeseník region. If waterfalls are what you seek – and they are admittedly great places for taking photos – then good for you, because there are three more waterfalls located in this area! Those are the Skalní Potok Waterfalls, Divoký Důl Waterfalls, and Nýznerov Waterfalls.
One waterfall is also located in Karlova studánka mentioned in one of the previous paragraphs. This waterfall is 20 metres tall but completely artificial – it was built in the late 19th century for the needs of the local spa. Not too far from this artificial waterfall, you can find the Bílá Opava Waterfalls. They are only about 8 metres tall, though. Beautiful, nevertheless.
What Else to See in the Region
If you are particularly eager to explore the Jeseník District, you are lucky because there are many other interesting places that one can visit. There is, for example, the town of Javorník whose historic centre was declared a town monument zone. In this town you can also find the castle Jánský vrch – until 1945 it was the summer residence of the bishops and archbishops of Wrocław. Another beautiful town in the Jeseník region is Vidnava whose centre was also declared a city monument zone – in 1992, to be exact.
As I mentioned before, the Jeseníky Mountains is a large area that covers many sub-regions, towns, and villages. To learn more about the mountains and the places located there, keep an eye on this blog so you don’t miss any future Tips for Trips article!