Czech Switzerland – Pravčická Gate, Chateau Sokolí Hnízdo (8 hours)
This symbol of the Czech Switzerland National Park is found in Northern Bohemia, near the village of Hřensko. Pravčická Gate is the largest natural rock bridge in Europe, with its dimensions of 16 metres in height, 7-8 metres in width and an arch spanning 26.5 metres. People rightly call it the pearl of this attractive area.
Pravčická Gate has attracted lovers of romantic natural surroundings through the ages. The first visitors were mainly artists who liked to portray the Gate in their works. The most famous international author of fairy-tales, Hans Christian Andersen, also visited this site. He too could not resist incorporating this natural wonder in his notes from his journeys. In the past, it was possible to climb on to the rock arch itself, which was a truly unique experience. However, since 1980 access to the rock bridge has been strictly forbidden. The acceleration of man-made erosion narrowed the rock almost one metre, so in order to preserve the sight for the next generation, such a step was deemed necessary. Near Pravčická Gate there are other viewpoints, each one offering a beautiful vista of the Czech and Saxon Switzerland.
Chateau Sokolí Hnízdo
An important part of Pravčická Gate is the Sokolí Hnízdo Chateau (Falcon’s Nest Chateau). The construction of this unusual Alpine-style building began in 1881 at the direction of the owner, Prince Edmund Clary-Aldringen. Sokolí Hnízdo was occupied a year later, its guests consisting of significant personages of the aristocracy. Today it houses a stylish restaurant with original walls and paintings, the Museum of the Czech Switzerland National Park and an Information Centre. In the first floor gallery, the photographs can be viewed by Julius Pufler – a great Nature lover and admirer of the local scenery.